Early 20th century yearbook photo. 12 men and women in formal dress pose in a portrait style.

Talk: "The College Years of a Catholic Radical: Dorothy Day, University of Illinois Dropout"

Dorothy Day is considered one of the leading figures in 20th century American Catholicism. But in 1914, Day was just another freshman at the University of Illinois trying to find her place in the world. After two years, Day dropped out and headed to New York City, where she later co-founded the Catholic Worker Movement. Yet, those two years in Champaign-Urbana were transformative. Day wrote for the local paper, joined campus literary societies, devoured books in the campus library, and fell into fast and furious friendships with the campus literati. This talk illuminates Dorothy Day’s experiences as a UIUC student, their impact on her later work, and the legacy of Day’s presence on campus.

Presenter Nathan Tye is a doctoral candidate in History at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. His dissertation, The Ways of the Hobo: Transient Mobility and Culture in the United States, 1870s–1930s, explores the history of mobility and its intersections with gender, sexuality, class, and race within the lives of transient and casual laborers, better known as hobos, in the United States. Tye has previously published research on Dorothy Day at UIUC in America: The Jesuit Review of Faith and Culture.

This event is part of the Spurlock’s Third Thursday Series highlighting people, places, and events in University of Illinois history.

Courtesy of the University of Illinois Archives.

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For further information on this event, contact Beth Watkins at (217) 265-5485 or

To request disability-related accommodations for this event, please contact Brian Cudiamat at (217) 244-5586 or cudiamat@illinois.edu (email link).