Creating the Safety Net

This photograph of a Sisters of the Holy Family children’s Day Home was displayed at the World’s Columbian Exposition in 1893.

This photograph of a Sisters of the Holy Family children’s Day Home was displayed at the World’s Columbian Exposition in 1893.

Gold Rush California was a chaotic, dynamic time. The state needed everything—hospitals, schools, orphanages, homes for the elderly, and other institutions of charity. While countless Forty-Niners swarmed into California in search of gold, Catholic sisters sought a different treasure—providing care for the poor and marginalized. In an era well before the welfare state, women religious attempted to provide social stability by creating a safety net.


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