Noon Conversation: 'Dorothy Day and Social Justice' set for Thursday

Dr. Anne Klejment

Dr. Anne Klejment

University of St. Thomas history professor Dr. Anne Klejment will speak on “Dorothy Day and Social Justice” on Thursday, Feb. 24. Part of the UST Libraries’ Noon Conversation series, the event will be held from noon to 1 p.m. in the O’Shaughnessy Room of the O’Shaughnessy-Frey Library Center.

Klejment earned her Ph.D. in history at the State University of New York at Binghamton and has taught at UST since 1983. Her research and publication have focused on Catholics and nonviolence, the early liturgical movement, and Catholic publishing in the mid-20th century.

An interview with Klejment about Dorothy Day:

What drew you to study Dorothy Day so intently?

Dorothy Day

Dorothy Day

“I heard about Dorothy Day from my mom, whose high school classmate was one of the founders of the Rochester (New York) Catholic Worker. Her classmate’s son was also a draft resister during the Vietnam War. I was writing about Catholic protest against the Vietnam War and about nonviolent movements – focusing on Martin Luther King and the Berrigans – when I realized that I couldn’t understand Dan and Phil without understanding Dorothy Day. So I started reading, and the rest is history.” 

How long have you been researching her?

“I’ve been reading about her since the mid-'70s and I started serious research in the early '80s when, on the strength of a published bibliography on the Berrigans, I got a contract to compile a Dorothy Day-Catholic Worker bibliography and index. That was published in 1986 with my mom as co-author. Since then I’ve co-edited another book about Catholic Worker pacifism and have written several articles on Dorothy Day.”

Any favorite things about Dorothy Day that you have discovered?

  • Her love letters are phenomenal. They confirmed what I had suspected: Although she gave up Forster Batterham, the father of her child, because he would not marry her in either a civil or religious ceremony, they chastely loved each other until their deaths. What a struggle she had trying to convince him to marry her on the one hand and trying to leave him on the other because she knew how stubborn he was – a very powerful story.”
  • “Her life in 1917 as a young radical and protester against WWI and the actions of her radical friends against the war.”
  • “The complex and loving relationship of Day and her daughter Tamar.”
  • “Her emphasis on continuing conversion throughout your spiritual life.”

What were your favorite resources to use in researching her life?

“I love Bob Ellsberg’s books, which are compilations of her writings – By Little and By Little is a sampler of her published writings. All the Way to Heaven contains her letters to Forster. I particularly love The Duty of Delight: The Diaries of Dorothy Day, because it provides such an authentic view of her daily life and the challenges that she had to meet as the head of the Catholic Worker movement.”

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Everyone is welcome to bring a bag lunch to Noon Conversations; beverages and a light dessert will be provided.

For more information call Julie Kimlinger, (651) 962-5014.