A look back: women’s pages and Father Tolton

By Joyce Duriga | Editor
Saturday, March 11, 2017

Patterns for women's dresses appeared in the Jan. 12, 1912 issue of the New World. (Chicago Catholic file photo)

Part of the fun of putting together features about what this newspaper has covered in the past 125 years is viewing old copies of the papers on microfilm at the archdiocese’s Joseph Cardinal Bernardin Archives and Records Center, 711 W. Monroe St.

While I was flipping through the issues from 1912 what caught my eye in the Jan. 12 edition were the women’s pages. I assumed they wouldn’t have anything for women back then. They paper also ran a few pages of items for children.

The women’s pages included things like recipes, suggestions for cleaning and repairing household items and advice columns like the one from this issue that addressed whether “two people of widely different social positions [should] marry.”

They also included clothing patterns like the ones pictured above. In this issue the patterns were for a “Chicago Costume” and a “Neat Work Apron.” The introduction to the apron description reads: “A large work apron that comes well over the waist is indispensable to the busy house wife.”

On that trip to the archives I also went looking for the obituary the New World ran for Father Augustus Tolton, the first identified black priest in the United States, for whom a cause for canonization was opened in 2010.

Born into slavery in Missouri, Father Tolton died in Chicago on July 9, 1897. He was 43. There was a severe heat wave in Chicago at the time and he died of heatstroke.

Here’s some of what ran in his obit: “Rev. Augustine Tolton, pastor of St. Monica’s ... Thirty-sixth and Dearborn streets was overcome with the heat Friday morning on Ellis avenue and Thirty-sixth street and died from the effects of the same Friday night at Mercy Hospital. Father Tolton had been spending the week in retreat at Kankakee with the pastors of the Archdiocese and was stricken while on his way home from the depot Friday morning.

“The remains lay in state all day Sunday in St. Monica’s Church where they were reviewed by thousands of Catholics from all parts of the city.”

His funeral was held at St. Monica’s and more than 100 priests concelebrated, the New World reported. They listed some of the priests in attendance.

The obit also gives a little of Father Tolton’s background (in the parlance of the time): “He was educated for the priesthood in the American College in Rome and was ordained about twelve years ago, having the honor of being the first colored priest in America. He came to the city about eight years ago, when after four years of hard work, he succeeded in building the handsome edifice that will stand as a monument to his untiring labor on behalf of the church of his adoption.”


  • augustus tolton
  • new world
  • canonization

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