Religious History and Visual Culture

Colleen McDannell

Journal of American History, 94 (June 2007) 112–21

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Selected Farm Security Administration (fsa) photographs have become classic images in the American visual repertoire. Could an American history textbook exist that does not call on this file of public-domain photographs to illustrate depression-era suffering, dust bowl ecological disaster, or everyday life in the 1930s and 1940s? Now that the Library of Congress has digitized and made available on the World Wide Web over 160,000 black-and-white images and 1,600 color photographs, we can explore the richness of this national treasure even more fully. 1 The story of the file is well known: In 1935 the former economics professor Rexford Tugwell was appointed as director of the Resettlement Administration, later to become the Farm Security Administration. One of the “alphabet” agencies of Franklin D. Roosevelt’s New Deal, the fsa was charged with improving the condition of America’s farmers. Tugwell asked one of his former graduate students, Roy E. Stryker, to head a photographic project that would produce a visual record of the current state of agriculture and the government’s efforts to improve it. Stryker hired (and fired) men and women who were given cameras, shooting scripts that suggested topics of interest, background materials, and per diems and told to go out and take pictures. Of the hundreds they took, a very few were made into traveling exhibitions or reproduced in the print media. After World War II broke out, this “historical section” of the fsa was moved into the Office of War Information (owi) and Stryker resigned. Photographs continued to be made until 1944 when the fsa/owi file was deposited at the Library of Congress. Some of those who “made pictures” for Stryker continued to photograph and are now celebrated in the history of American photography: Walker Evans, Dorothea Lange, Gordon Parks. Others, of no less talent, include Jack Delano, Russell Lee, John Vachon, John Collier Jr., and Marion Post Wolcott. 2

As with any multiyear, multipersonality project, the goals of the historical section were continually shifting. In its early years, photographers were assigned to document the problems of rural America and New Deal solutions. The photographers also sought to make visually compelling photographs. In addition, Stryker hoped to make a record of “America,” which for him often meant small-town life. By the late thirties, the pressures of fascism and eventual war in Europe added the goal of propaganda to that of documentary. Photographers were sent off to cities to make pictures for books and government pamphlets. We also must not forget the random nature of photography. Pictures could be snapped for no reason at all. The outcome of those multiple intentions is a large collection of images of various quality, most of which have never been published or even widely seen.

When I began working on the fsa/owi file in the early 1990s, I had to go to Washington, D.C., to the Prints and Photographs Division of the Library of Congress, where part of the file had been developed, roughly categorized by subject, and put in large filing cabinets. Microfilm contained the photographs in “lots”—interpretive units of pictures often taken at one time by one photographer on one subject or region. In addition, there was written correspondence between Stryker and his photographers as well as miscellaneous scrapbooks and background information that had been saved and microfilmed. The staff at the Prints and Photographs Division was (and is) fantastic, but the work was very tedious and getting to D.C. expensive. Even more problematic was obtaining a physical copy of a photograph. While the cost was reasonable, it took months to get an acceptable copy. At one point, the fsa/owi negatives were moved away from the Washington area because of fears that the nitrate negatives would explode. At another, access to the storage area was stopped because of some mysterious mold. Delays in getting copies of the print meant delays in really looking at the photograph. Even when images became available online, it was impossible for me to see everything in the photograph; a good print was absolutely necessary. Consequently, I have great respect for scholars such as F. Jack Hurley and James Curtis, who produced their excellent work on the fsa photographs prior to digitization. Working with images includes a host of practical problems that need to be factored into the researching and writing process.

In recent years, art curators—not historians—have claimed a part of the fsa/owi file and presented selected pictures as great American art photography. Theirs is an art- historical assumption: photographs engage viewers directly and thus should be mediated by only a minimum of explanatory text. Exhibitions, such as “About Life: The Photographs of Dorothea Lange” at the J. Paul Getty Museum in Los Angeles, California (2002–2003), and “Half Past Autumn: The Art of Gordon Parks” organized by the Corcoran Gallery of Art in Washington D.C., (1997–1998), celebrate the creativity of the artist as an exceptional individual. In August 2006 the New York Times published a review of yet another exhibition of Walker Evans’s photographs.3 Even when fsa/owi photographs are used to construct an exhibition that examines a historical period, such as the Corcoran’s “Propaganda and Dreams: Photographing the 1930s in the ussr and the us” (1999), individual photographs are accompanied only by brief captions and the catalogs flesh out general historical themes. In the world of art museums and galleries, too many words distract one from letting the photograph speak for itself. Explaining who is in the photograph and what those subjects are doing misses the point entirely: a photograph is the mirror of the creativity and context of the photographer.

While that approach has its merits—and the support of major corporations that fund art exhibitions—it is of limited use to historians. It also has almost no connection to the original goals of the fsa’s historical section. When the fsa photographs were made into exhibitions to illustrate “sharecropping” or “small-town America” (and shipped for a fifty-cent rental fee), individual photographers were not named. For Stryker, the point was who or what was in the photograph. Informational materials that were sent along explained social or ecological problems, not the biography of the photographer. Stryker had little patience with the pretension of “artists” and justly predicted that if too much attention were paid to form rather than content, the whole point of documentation would be lost. Stryker’s attitude created a rocky relationship with Walker Evans and Dorothea Lange, but most of the men and women he hired went along with his notion that the creative artistry of the photographer needed to take a backseat to the subject. It is helpful, I believe, to return to this traditional and perhaps naïve way of using photographs. In addition to offering a mirror of photographers’ creativity and ideology, the fsa/owi photographs can be used to open up American history. By moving back and forth between what is in the photograph, who took it, and why it was taken, historians can construct new narratives of old stories. That approach cannot be undertaken with all photographs, but it can with many pictures from the fsa/owi file. Consequently, it behooves us to move beyond art-historical assumptions about this important collection of images and to develop fuller stories about the pictures.

As a historian of American religion, I found that the file transformed the way I understood the Christian communities of the thirties and forties. My first foray into the filing cabinets in the Prints and Photographs Division reading room was geared to finding illustrations of how people used religious objects and images in their homes. I looked through hundreds of photographs, searching for how people engaged with supernatural characters and their stories through the material world. Domestic interiors turned out to be showcases for this “material Christianity.”4 A photographer may have been trying to illustrate submarginal housing but ended up also illustrating how people used crucifixes, home altars, scripture mottoes, church calendars, prints of Bible characters and saints, and blessed palms. In addition, as the photographers traversed the country, they took pictures of churches, gospel trucks, Christian billboards, itinerant preachers, church picnics, religious rituals, and congregational leaders. They typically photographed ordinary religious expressions, but at times they were drawn to the unusual. In 1940, for instance, John Vachon photographed men at the House of David community in Benton Harbor, Michigan. Members of this communal Christian group, in addition to leaving their hair uncut and playing baseball, ran a summer resort for Jews.5

When I approached people who had worked with Stryker about my interest in religious expressions, I was consistently told that religious practices were not represented in the file: Stryker and the photographers were not religious and only photographed faith communities as a minor part of American culture. Indeed, when I looked at books that published fsa/owi photographs, only the rare country church appeared. Secondary literature about the thirties scarcely discussed religion, asserting it was an era of “spiritual depression” when church membership was in decline. At most, the nation was plagued by religious fanatics such as Father Charles Coughlin or Father Divine. “Normal” religious people had fallen into a deep sleep between the Scopes trial and their reawakening with the election of Jimmy Carter. 6

The America of the Great Depression era, however, was religious—even if there were strong secularizing trends in government, education, and culture. A decline in church membership did exist, but only among liberal and moderate Protestant denominations. Catholics, evangelical and Pentecostal congregations, and Latter-day Saints increased their numbers.7 New forms of media such as the radio and motion pictures brought piety into people’s lives, even if they never ventured into a church or synagogue. Roy Stryker’s father had been converted to evangelical Protestantism by a circuit-riding preacher. Although the son swore off Christianity as an adult, he admitted to having been influenced by the Social Gospel movement as a youth. While the photographers may have given up going to synagogue or church, their pictures reveal that they were drawn to the physical expressions of faith in the materially depressed parts of the country. Religion—it turned out—was not an etherealized set of ethical principles or vague supernatural beliefs, but a very material and creative entity that could be photographed. Religious people wore interesting clothing, they tacked up pictures of saints on newspapered walls, they baptized in streams, they burned copies of Mein Kampf at church rallies, and they decorated graves with paper flowers. The problem was not the lack of images, but the surfeit.

One series of photographs was particularly rich in expanding my understanding of Christian practices. In 1942 Jack Delano was photographing Chicago as a transportation hub. Early that spring, Stryker probably asked him to take pictures of African American life on the South Side for Negroes and the War. A seventy-two-page piece of propaganda generated by the Office of War Information, Negroes and the War aimed to encourage African Americans to support the war effort by portraying their accomplishments in the United States. Those accomplishments would be erased if a racist Adolf Hitler succeeded in his effort to enslave the world. “The war will decide,” the pamphlet repeated over and over, “whether Negro Americans will have the right to continue their march to freedom or will sink into slavery.” Since Negroes and the War was the first piece of war propaganda directed to the black population, the federal government conducted studies afterward to see if African Americans had gotten the intended message. They had not. Readers of the pamphlet could not see that Hitler’s hatred of the Jews was very different from white attitudes toward blacks in the United States. Yet, in spite of black suspicions about propaganda, the pamphlet was immensely popular in African American communities—everyone wanted a copy because of its amazing illustrations.8

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Figure 1. “Mass at a Negro Catholic church on the South Side. Chicago, Illinois.” March 1942.
Photo by Jack Delano. Courtesy Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division, fsa/owi Collection, LC-USW3-000138-D..
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Figure 2. “Negro nuns at a Negro Catholic church service on the South Side of Chicago, Illinois.” March 1942.
Photo by Jack Delano. Courtesy Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division, fsa/owi Collection, LC-USW3-000130-D.
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Figure 3. “Father Smith, colored pastor, conducting Mass at a Negro Catholic Church service on the South Side. Chicago, Illinois.” March 1942.
Photo by Jack Delano. Courtesy Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division, fsa/owi Collection, LC-USW3-000136-D.

Included in Negroes and the War were five images of “the Negro Church” taken from the fsa/owi file of photographs. Two of the illustrations might be considered typical representations of African American Christianity—the exterior of a southern church and an interior shot of a small group of men bowing their heads in prayer next to a man standing behind a pulpit. Simple churches, preaching, prayer—those images communicate, in an almost stereotyped way, the black church. The three other illustrations were more unusual. One shows a recessional outside “an Episcopal church in Chicago” where a trio of young men in vestments carry a cross and candles. The second, a “store front church in Washington, D.C.,” included statues of the Virgin Mary and of St. Martin de Porres. In the third (“Mass at a Negro Catholic church on the South Side”) young girls kneel in pews with folded hands. One girl holds a rosary and in the background, if you look closely, you can see three nuns (See figure 1). Those images are more complicated visually and in subject matter, and we might question why they were included in a piece of propaganda. An analysis of those photographs and others taken by fsa/owi photographers of these communities urges us to broaden our understanding of what constitutes “the Negro Church.”

The last “Negro Church” illustration in Negroes and the War was one photograph of many that Jack Delano took of three Catholic churches and one Episcopal church on Chicago’s South Side. All members of the congregations were African Americans. I have reproduced two of those photographs here, one of two Catholic sisters and the other of a Catholic priest. When I was asked to prepare this essay, I assumed that I knew where Delano had been photographing. In Picturing Faith I wrote about two Catholic parishes on the South Side that Delano specifically mentioned in the captions to his photographs, St. Elizabeth’s and Corpus Christi.9 I had visited both of those parishes in Chicago, congregations that are still vibrant faith communities and still predominantly African American. I assumed that the illustration of girls praying in Negroes and the War, which I included in Picturing Faith, was from St. Elizabeth’s. But almost immediately after beginning my research on the two photographs, I discovered that what I had written in Picturing Faith was wrong. I detail here how I recognized this error in order to provide a sense of how one moves between the photographer’s captions, what appears in a photograph, and archival research.

In eight of his nine captions for photographs of St. Elizabeth’s Church, Jack Delano wrote: “Sunday Mass at Saint Elizabeth’s Catholic church. All the pastors here are white with the exception of Father Smith. The congregation is entirely colored. Chicago, Illinois.” When Father Smith was pictured in nine other photographs, the captions read: “Father Smith, colored pastor, conducting Mass at a Negro Catholic church service on the South Side. Chicago, Illinois.” I knew from The Official Catholic Directory for 1942 (a national publication) that a Father Vincent Smith was an assistant priest at St. Elizabeth’s. If you looked at the photographs, however, it was obvious that the place where Father Smith was saying Mass was different from the one where the white priests were saying Mass. Notice the cinder blocks behind him, where the crucifix hangs from the wall (See figure 3). In other photographs of Father Smith saying Mass you can see that the “church” is practically windowless and has the kind of wooden ceiling you get in a basement. I knew from parish histories that the original St. Elizabeth’s Church burned in 1930 and that the congregation had made the parish’s two-story brick assembly hall into a church. Thus I concluded that Father Smith was probably saying Mass in the basement of the former assembly hall cum church. I also knew from the annual reports gathered by the Archdiocese of Chicago and kept in its archives that large numbers of African American adults were joining the black parishes. At St. Elizabeth’s 267 adults had been baptized as Catholics in 1936; 166 adults were baptized in 1941 and, although 1942 was a slow year (only 75), by 1943 the number had moved up to a respectable 158. Space was at a premium at St. Elizabeth’s, and so why not convert the basement into a worship space?10

Photographs of children and women religious led me to the large and flourishing allblack schools taught by Catholic sisters. The seventeen Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament at St. Elizabeth’s school taught over 900 elementary school pupils. St. Elizabeth’s parish even ran a high school, the only Catholic high school in Chicago that accepted African American students. The sisters who ran the schools belonged to an order founded in 1891 by Katherine Drexel (now a canonized saint). From a prominent Philadelphian family, Drexel organized white Catholic women to work with African Americans and Native Americans. Such teachers would expect their students—even if they or their parents were not Catholic—to go to Mass. In Picturing Faith I concluded that even though Delano simply captioned the photographs “Negro Catholic church service,” the schoolgirls, nuns, and priest were from St. Elizabeth’s.

The first indication that I had made a mistake came when I sent the photograph of the two sisters to Stephanie Morris, archivist at the motherhouse of the Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament. I asked her to help me identify the two sisters in the picture. She informed me that they were not Blessed Sacrament sisters, but Oblate Sisters of Providence whose motherhouse was in Baltimore. I immediately logged on to one of my favorite Web sites, that of a company that markets nun dolls in traditional habits. Yes, I had missed the small curve in the bandeau that caused the veil to dip slightly, a curve the Blessed Sacrament sisters did not have on their habits. A quick call (and then an e-mail with the e-photo) to Sharon Knecht, the archivist for the Oblate Sisters of Providence, confirmed that they were indeed Oblates, five of whom had been sent as teachers to yet a third black Catholic church on Chicago’s South Side, Holy Name of Mary Church.11

The Oblate Sisters of Providence were established in 1828 by Mary Elizabeth Lange (1780s[?]–1882), an Afro-Caribbean, and Father James Joubert (1777–1843), a Frenchman who, like Lange, had lived in Haiti, Cuba, and then the United States. The pair founded the first congregation of women religious exclusively for women of African descent. Mother Mary Lange and several other African American women had opened “the Baltimore School for Colored Girls,” and in 1850 it was renamed St. Frances Academy. St. Frances Academy is the oldest continuously operating school for black Catholic children in the United States and still educates children in Baltimore. 12 Archivist Sharon Knecht showed the e-photograph to some of the retired sisters at the motherhouse and checked the 1942 assignments for Chicago. The sisters recognized the women in the photographs reproduced here: On the right is Sister Claude Hudlin, the superior of the Oblates teaching at Holy Name of Mary. Sister Claude also taught seventh and eighth grades. On the left is Sister Juliana Brent, who taught third and fourth grades. The other three sisters (whom you cannot see in this photograph, but who appear in others Delano made) are Sister Providentia Pollard, Sister Chotilde Smith, and Sister Anthony Garnier. Sister Juliana (on the left) left the order in 1963 but her biological sister, Katherine, was also an Oblate and still lives at the motherhouse in Baltimore.

The five sisters came to Holy Name of Mary in 1941 only a year after the parish had been established. As Irish immigrants left the area when African Americans arrived from the South, George Cardinal Mundelein (1872–1939) created “colored” parishes exclusively for African Americans. While his action followed the pattern of establishing national parishes for individual ethnic groups, black Catholics were also discriminated against in white parishes. They had to sit in the back of the church, and black Catholics (including black sisters) took communion last. Holy Name of Mary parish was carved out of four other parishes after a group of African American women agitated, demanding that the archdiocese establish a black parish in the Morgan Park neighborhood of the South Side.13

When Delano arrived at this “Negro Catholic Church” two years after its establishment, it had already built a school. Father Smith was saying Mass in the basement of the school. Throughout the twentieth century, Catholic parishes often built their schools first, celebrating Mass and administering the other sacraments in the basement or community hall until they could finance a church. The Official Catholic Directory for 1942 indicated that at Holy Name of Mary parish, the sisters taught 110 children; a year later they taught 175. For nearly thirty years parishioners attended Mass in the school’s basement in order to keep their school running. In 1970, when the congregation finished the new church, it was the first black parish in Chicago to build its own church rather than getting a handme- down from a white congregation. The Oblates taught school and catechism classes for public school children through 2002, when the last sisters retired.14

Why did Jack Delano travel to Holy Name of Mary Church, ten miles southwest of the more extensively photographed St. Elizabeth’s? Why did he photograph “pastor” “Father Smith” and then fail to note the name of the church he was photographing? Why would Delano focus on that priest and not on the parish community? I can only speculate, and those speculations must always be open to revision. As a nonobservant Jew, Delano probably did not realize that a Catholic church has only one pastor. “Father Smith, Negro pastor” was actually Father Vincent Smith, assistant priest at St. Elizabeth’s, who most likely was just helping out on a busy Sunday at Holy Name of Mary parish, which had only one priest. Delano must have known, however, that a black priest was a rarity and worth traveling to photograph. If Negroes and the War was to illustrate the accomplishment of black Americans, who was a better subject for a photograph than Chicago’s only African American Catholic priest?

The significance of this photograph lies, not in the hand gestures or vestments, but in the individual pictured. Vincent Smith was born in 1894 in Lebanon, Kentucky, the twelfth of thirteen children. His parents were Catholics, and he served as a valet and chauffeur for the bishop of Covington, Kentucky, before signing up to fight in World War I. It was in war-torn France that he decided to become a priest. In 1921 Smith joined the “junior seminary” of the Society of the Divine Word. The order had recently established a segregated seminary in Mississippi because one of its goals was to minister to African Americans. The twenty-seven-year-old veteran started in what was basically a religious high school and studied for thirteen years before he was ordained along with three other African American men. Between 1886 (when the first African American was ordained a priest) and 1934 (when Father Smith was ordained) only fourteen black men had received holy orders in the United States.15

At the age of forty, Father Smith accepted his first pastoral assignment in Lafayette, Louisiana. His religious order soon recognized his exceptional oratorical skills and booked Father Smith into a nationwide preaching circuit. He conducted missions (Catholic revivals) throughout the country until he came to St. Elizabeth’s in fall 1940. For the next eight years, Father Smith served as an assistant priest in parishes, worked in the Midwest Clergy Conference, acted as an army chaplain during the war, and eventually became pastor of Our Lady of the Divine Shepherd Church in Trenton, New Jersey. After serving there for five years, he left the Divine Word order and became a contemplative Trappist. In 1952, a year after taking his final vows with that community and being appointed novice master at the new Genesee Monastery in upstate New York, Father Smith died. His commitment to Catholicism, while shaped by racism, had a depth and creativity that cannot be underestimated.

In representing religious behavior, the pictures from the late thirties and early forties bring us into the lives of Americans in unexpected ways. While we might be familiar with the rise of the Nation of Islam in such places as Chicago, the attraction of urban African Americans to liturgical denominations has yet to be fully explored. The Farm Security Administration photographers are rightly known for their gritty portrayal of the Great Depression, but they also made photographs for government war propaganda. In doing so they uncovered aspects of black church life that historians have overlooked. The fsa/ owi file of photographs provides evidence of flourishing Catholic and Episcopal communities, but only historical research can show the growth of those communities and reveal the stories of individuals who became members. Catholic religious orders, such as the Divine Word missionaries and the Oblate Sisters of Providence, have extensive archives and helpful archivists. In general, religious congregations are long-lived, and even storefront churches have senior members whose memories can be stimulated by pictures. The fsa/ owi photographs have justly been analyzed and displayed for their aesthetic quality and their ability to reveal the stunning creativity of their makers. They have also been assembled to illustrate life in a particular city or state. However, the faces in the pictures are not merely anonymous individuals who provide “forms” for the creative photographers or act as postcards for bygone days. Historians must use both their visual and archival interpretative skills to bring to life their stories and set them within a larger social context.

Colleen McDannell is the Sterling M. McMurrin Professor of Religious Studies and professor of history at the University of Utah.

Readers may contact McDannell at Colleen.McD [at] Utah [dot] edu.

1 The main page for the Farm Security Administration/Office of War Information (fsa/owi) photographs is “America from the Great Depression to World War II: Black-and-White Photographs from the fsa/owi, 1935–1945,” Library of Congress: American Memory,

2 See James Curtis, Mind’s Eye, Mind’s Truth: fsa Photography Reconsidered (Philadelphia, 1989); and F. Jack Hurley, Portrait of a Decade: Roy Stryker and the Development of Documentary Photography in the Thirties (Baton Rouge, 1972).

3 Michael Kimmelman, “Walker Evans. Or Is It,?” New York Times, Aug. 25, 2006,

4 Colleen McDannell, Material Christianity: Religion and Popular Culture in America (New Haven, 1995).

5 On religion and the world of the fsa/owi photographers, see Colleen McDannell, Picturing Faith: Photography and the Great Depression (New Haven, 2004). The best way of locating a series of fsa/owi photographs is to use the keyword search function on the American Memory fsa/owi site. (See n. 1 above.) Once a specific photograph is located, you can move backward and forward in the image groups to find similar pictures that were not captioned. For instance, “Vachon Benton Harbor House David” pulls up twelve photographs.

6 The “spiritual depression thesis” was first argued in 1960 by the church historian Robert T. Handy, an American Baptist and professor at Union Theological Seminary in New York City. See Robert T. Handy, “The American Religious Depression, 1925–1935,” Church History, 29 (March 1960), 3–16. Handy based his assessment on sociological surveys, including those summarized in Robert S. Lynd and Helen Merrell Lynd, Middletown in Transition: A Study in Cultural Conflicts (New York, 1937). Those conclusions have been challenged by almost every historian of American religion who works on groups other than liberal Protestants. For astute analysis of the Lynds’ work, see Richard Wightman Fox, “Epitaph for Middletown: Robert S. Lynd and the Analysis of Consumer Culture,” in The Culture of Consumption: Critical Essays in American History, 1880–1980 ed. Richard Wightman Fox and T. J. Jackson Lears (New York, 1983), 101–41.

7 On challenges to the spiritual depression thesis by historians of American religion, see Colleen McDannell, “Christianity in the United States during the Inter-War Years,” in Cambridge History of Christianity, vol. IX: World Christianities, c. 1914–c. 2000, ed. Hugh McLeod (Cambridge, Eng., 2006), 236–51.

8 United States Office of War Information, Negroes and the War (Washington, 1942), n.p. On the purposes and reception of Negroes and the War, see Barbara Diane Savage, Broadcasting Freedom: Radio, War, and the Politics of Race, 1938–1948 (Chapel Hill, 1999), 125–35.

9 On the construction of “the” black church and the importance of liturgical Christianity in urban African American communities, see McDannell, Picturing Faith, 197–265.

10 The Official Catholic Directory, vol. XXX (New York, 1942). Another photograph with the cinder blocks is: Jack Delano, “At a Negro Catholic Church service on the South Side. Chicago, Illinois,” March 1942, photographs, LCUSW3-000141-D, fsa-owi Collection (Prints and Photographs Division, Library of Congress, Washington, D.C.); for the ceiling, see Jack Delano, “Father Smith, colored pastor, conducting Mass. . . . ,” March 1942, photograph, LC-USW3-000132-D, ibid. To locate individual photographs by their Library of Congress (lc) number, see “P&POnline Catalog—Searching fsa-owi Black-and-White Negatives,” Library of Congress: Prints and Photographs Division, McDannell, Picturing Faith, 248–55, 298–99.

11 See “Blessings Nun Dolls,” Blessings Expressions of Faith, I exchanged e-mails with Sharon Knecht in Sept. 2006.

12 See Oblate Sisters of Providence: Providing Education and Service to All, See also Diane Batts Morrow, Persons of Color and Religious at the Same Time: The Oblate Sisters of Providence, 1828–1860 (Chapel Hill, 2002).

13 On the treatment of African American sisters, see Morrow, Persons of Color and Religious at the Same Time. On race and Chicago’s Catholics, see John T. McGreevy, Parish Boundaries: The Catholic Encounter with Race in the Twentieth-Century Urban North (Chicago, 1996); and Edward R. Kantowicz, Corporation Sole: Cardinal Mundelein and Chicago Catholicism (Notre Dame, 1983). On the establishment of Holy Name of Mary parish, see Suellen Hoy, Good Hearts: Catholic Sisters in Chicago’s Past (Champaign, 2006), 197.

14 I talked with Rev. James Flynn, pastor of Holy Name of Mary Church, by telephone, Sept. 9, 2006. See also the home page of the parish: Holy Name of Mary Roman Catholic Church,

15 For a fuller description of Father Vincent Smith, see McDannell, Picturing Faith, 252–55. Materials to construct this summary were provided by Gerald F. Garry, S.V.D., archivist for the Society of the Divine Word. On the society, see “Who We Ae,” Divine Word Missionaries,

Colleen McDannell, “Religious History and Visual Culture,” Journal of American History, 94 (June 2007) 112–21.