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Sister Mary Alice Chineworth

Nun and teacher Sister Mary Alice Chineworth was born on July 16, 1917 in Rock Island, Illinois. Her mother, Victoria, was German-American, while her father, Alexander, was the son of a former slave. A student of St. Joseph’s Catholic School in Rock Island from kindergarten through twelfth grade, Chineworth was inspired by the charity of the nuns who taught her. In 1936, after learning that her race prevented her from joining most religious orders, Chineworth took vows with the Order of the Oblate Sisters of Providence, the oldest religious organization for black women in America. Chineworth went on to earn her B.A. degree in English from Mount Mary College in Milwaukee, Wisconsin in 1952 as well as her M.A. degree in psychology and her Ph.D. degree in higher education from The Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C.

Chineworth dedicated her adult life to educating young people. For over thirty years, she taught in schools administered by her order, including St. Frances Academy, the school founded by the first members of the Oblates in 1828. In 1966, she became an administrator at Mount Providence Junior College, an Oblate community college, before serving as president from 1969 until the college closed three years later. In 1973, she began to hold higher-level positions within the Oblate administration, culminating in her appointment in 1989 to the position of superior general. She was a member of the National Black Sisters Conference, an association of African American nuns. In 1996, Chineworth edited Rise ’n’ Shine: Catholic Education and the African-American Community. In 2002, Chineworth was interviewed by Camille Cosby, a former Oblate student, for the National Visionary Leadership Project. Chineworth’s story was included in the 2004 book A Wealth of Wisdom: Legendary African American Elders Speak. In 2005, she accepted a $2 million donation from Camille Cosby to start a scholarship fund at the school.

Chineworth passed away on June 21, 2017 at age 99.

Accession Number

A2010.072

Sex

Female

Interview Date

7/12/2010

Last Name

Chineworth

Marital Status

Single

Middle Name

Alice

Occupation
Schools

St. Joseph’s High School

Mount Mary College

St. Ambrose University

Catholic University of America

First Name

Mary

Birth City, State, Country

Rock Island

HM ID

CHI01

Favorite Season

Summer

State

Illinois

Favorite Vacation Destination

Oregon Coast

Favorite Quote

None

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Maryland

Birth Date

7/16/1917

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Baltimore

Country

USA

Favorite Food

Butter Pecan Ice Cream

Death Date

6/21/2017

Short Description

Teacher and nun Sister Mary Alice Chineworth (1917 - 2017 ) was a member and former superior general of the Order of the Oblate Sisters of Providence, the oldest religious order for black women. An educator for more than thirty years, Chineworth was profiled in the book, "A Wealth of Wisdom: Legendary African American Elders Speak."

Employment

Oblate Sisters of Providence

Favorite Color

Blue

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DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Sister Mary Alice Chineworth's interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Sister Mary Alice Chineworth lists her favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Sister Mary Alice Chineworth describes her mother's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Sister Mary Alice Chineworth recalls her maternal ancestors' emigration to the United States

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Sister Mary Alice Chineworth remembers her mother's education

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Sister Mary Alice Chineworth talks about her maternal grandparents' arranged marriage

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Sister Mary Alice Chineworth describes her father's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Sister Mary Alice Chineworth remembers her paternal grandparents

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Sister Mary Alice Chineworth describes her father's upbringing

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Sister Mary Alice Chineworth recalls her paternal grandfather's occupations

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Sister Mary Alice Chineworth talks about her father's education and occupation

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Sister Mary Alice Chineworth recalls how her parents met

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Sister Mary Alice Chineworth describes her maternal grandparents' reaction to her parents' marriage

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Sister Mary Alice Chineworth recalls her family's relocation to Rock Island, Illinois

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Sister Mary Alice Chineworth remembers the industry in Rock Island, Illinois

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Sister Mary Alice Chineworth talks about her father's business in Rock Island, Illinois

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Sister Mary Alice Chineworth recalls her mother's homemade sauerkraut

Tape: 2 Story: 9 - Sister Mary Alice Chineworth describes her earliest childhood memory

Tape: 2 Story: 10 - Sister Mary Alice Chineworth describes the sights, sounds and smells of her childhood

Tape: 2 Story: 11 - Sister Mary Alice Chineworth recalls encountering discrimination in her early education

Tape: 2 Story: 12 - Sister Mary Alice Chineworth describes her childhood home in Rock Island, Illinois

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Sister Mary Alice Chineworth lists her siblings

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Sister Mary Alice Chineworth describes her parents' personalities and whom she takes after

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Sister Mary Alice Chineworth recalls the black businesses in Rock Island, Illinois

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Sister Mary Alice Chineworth describes her high school experiences

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Sister Mary Alice Chineworth recalls her experience growing up biracial

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Sister Mary Alice Chineworth talks about her studies at St. Ambrose College in Davenport, Iowa

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Sister Mary Alice Chineworth recalls joining the Oblate Sisters of Providence

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Sister Mary Alice Chineworth describes the history of the Oblate Sisters of Providence

Tape: 3 Story: 9 - Sister Mary Alice Chineworth talks about Mother Mary Lange

Tape: 3 Story: 10 - Sister Mary Alice Chineworth describes the mission of the Oblate Sisters of Providence

Tape: 3 Story: 11 - Sister Mary Alice Chineworth remembers the Oblate Sisters of Providence's property

Tape: 3 Story: 12 - Sister Mary Alice Chineworth talks about discrimination in the Catholic church

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Sister Mary Alice Chineworth remembers her arrival at Saint Frances Church and Convent in Baltimore, Maryland

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Sister Mary Alice Chineworth recalls the racial demographics of the Oblate Sisters of Providence

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Sister Mary Alice Chineworth remembers her early teaching positions

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Sister Mary Alice Chineworth talks about African American religious orders

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Sister Mary Alice Chineworth describes her attire as a nun

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Sister Mary Alice Chineworth talks about her experience as a teacher

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Sister Mary Alice Chineworth recalls her teaching experience in the South

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Sister Mary Alice Chineworth talks about her brother's war experience

Tape: 4 Story: 9 - Sister Mary Alice Chineworth remembers her former students

Tape: 4 Story: 10 - Sister Mary Alice Chineworth describes her brother, Joseph Chineworth

Tape: 4 Story: 11 - Sister Mary Alice Chineworth recalls the integration of the Catholic orders, pt. 1

Tape: 4 Story: 12 - Sister Mary Alice Chineworth recalls the integration of the Catholic orders, pt. 2

Tape: 4 Story: 13 - Sister Mary Alice Chineworth talks about the Civil Rights Movement

Tape: 4 Story: 14 - Sister Mary Alice Chineworth recalls editing the magazine for the Oblate Sisters of Providence

Tape: 4 Story: 15 - Sister Mary Alice Chineworth remembers the construction of the Our Lady of Mount Providence in Baltimore, Maryland

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Sister Mary Alice Chineworth recalls her role at Mount Providence Junior College in Baltimore, Maryland

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Sister Mary Alice Chineworth talks about her involvement in the Civil Rights Movement

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Sister Mary Alice Chineworth describes her perspective as an African American nun

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Sister Mary Alice Chineworth recalls the National Black Sisters' Conference

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Sister Mary Alice Chineworth remembers Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.'s death

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Sister Mary Alice Chineworth talks about black liberation theology

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Sister Mary Alice Chineworth recalls closing Mount Providence College

Tape: 5 Story: 8 - Sister Mary Alice Chineworth remembers founding a child development center

Tape: 5 Story: 9 - Sister Mary Alice Chineworth recalls obtaining her Ph.D. degree from the Catholic University of America

Tape: 5 Story: 10 - Sister Mary Alice Chineworth remembers her election as superior general of the Oblate Sisters of Providence

Tape: 5 Story: 11 - Sister Mary Alice Chineworth recalls editing 'Rise 'n' Shine: Catholic Education and the African American Community'

Tape: 5 Story: 12 - Sister Mary Alice Chineworth describes the challenges in recruiting nuns to the Oblate Sisters of Providence, pt. 1

Tape: 5 Story: 13 - Sister Mary Alice Chineworth describes the challenges in recruiting nuns to the Oblate Sisters of Providence, pt. 2

Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Sister Mary Alice Chineworth shares her hopes for the future of the religious orders

Tape: 6 Story: 2 - Sister Mary Alice Chineworth reflects upon her Catholic faith

Tape: 6 Story: 3 - Sister Mary Alice Chineworth reflects upon her life

Tape: 6 Story: 4 - Sister Mary Alice Chineworth describes her hopes and concerns for the African American community

Tape: 6 Story: 5 - Sister Mary Alice Chineworth reflects upon her legacy

Tape: 6 Story: 6 - Sister Mary Alice Chineworth talks about ecumenism

Tape: 6 Story: 7 - Sister Mary Alice Chineworth describes her family

Tape: 6 Story: 8 - Sister Mary Alice Chineworth describes how she would like to be remembered

Tape: 7 Story: 1 - Sister Mary Alice Chineworth narrates her photographs

DASession

1$1

DATape

4$3

DAStory

1$11

DATitle
Sister Mary Alice Chineworth remembers her arrival at Saint Frances Church and Convent in Baltimore, Maryland
Sister Mary Alice Chineworth remembers the Oblate Sisters of Providence's property
Transcript
So, well what was the experience like? I mean did you, I mean did the experience meet your expectations? I mean what, what was it like? Was it, was it a, too become involved in an order [Oblate Sisters of Providence]?$$You know, from the minute, I can still remember September 14, 1936, on Chase Street in Baltimore [Maryland], I had come by train, my, my father [Alexander Chineworth, Sr.] had gotten me a first class bedroom or whatever it is, he didn't want me to be Jim Crowed, he know that--he knew enough to do that, you know? He wasn't that naive about travel.$$Well I thought you did, didn't have a choice at a certain point and when you got to the South there they would--$$He knew I was going south of the Mason-Dixon Line, so he got me into a first class accommodation bedroom or whatever it is.$$Oh, so they couldn't segregate you if you were--?$$No.$$Okay.$$So I got that, I came in first class, I got off at B and O [Baltimore and Ohio Railroad] station, which was just a walking distance from the convent [Saint Frances Church and Convent, Baltimore, Maryland], but I didn't know that and I hailed a cab and the cab took me like around the block to the--and he said, "Are you entering the convent or the academy [Saint Frances Academy, Baltimore, Maryland]?" So I must have looked kind of youngish, I was wearing a suit that I had knitted, you know what knitting is? I knitted the whole suit, skirt and, and jacket, navy blue and the trim was red, I wore a red hat and I said I'm entering the convent, he said, "Oh, well this is where you get out." So I went in and rang the doorbell and the sister who opened the door had a big red birthmark on half her face, and I said, "Oh my, they took her in spite of that birthmark?" 'Cause I thought nuns had to be perfect, you know? So, she said, "Do you--I'm, just sit here and I'll get mother for you." I said, "Mother?" 'Cause we never had any mothers in the order that I was taught by [Sisters of Charity of the Blessed Virgin Mary], so I sat there obediently and along came mother and she had the whole half of her face was de- deformed by lupus and I said, maybe they have to have something wrong with your face to enter here, you know? Two out of two, so I sa- she said, "Now dear tell me your real name? First of all, tell me your real name." I said, "Innocence [HistoryMaker Sister Mary Alice Chineworth]." "I mean your baptismal name?" I said, "I'm baptized Innocence." Well she didn't believe it, anyway, it was legal, so she took me downstairs, they were eating supper, September 14th it was Monday, and it was the first day that they were back in school and in school, when we were in school, we used to have reading like in monasticism, they setup monastic tables, long tables and there was one person appointed to read from a lectern during the meal. So I saw her go up to the reader and tell her she doesn't have to read, she wanted me to be comfortable and I wouldn't have been comfortable at, had I heard reading, so she stopped. So then she gave me a place at table and they had meat, cold cuts, tomatoes and lettuce, I remember so well the whole, because it's the best supper, we had it the whole week, you know, I didn't know at that time, but I enjoyed the supper and I was excited and they introduced me to my companions who then, I was the last to enter because I didn't want to enter right away so I, I'd been to a party, September 8th was my entrance date and then my mother [Victoria Schlicker Chineworth] had taken me to a party in Indianapolis, Indiana and I didn't rush home so I was a week late. So all my companions had gotten here and they were settled you know? So I was a late comer and I thought that would keep me from saying, making my vows with rest of 'em, but they didn't penalize me for that eight days, those eight days. So, I had the most unique feeling as I walked through that gate, I'm home, I felt so at home and at peace, I cannot exp- it's--the only comparison with that is when I went to Madagascar, I just felt, this is it, I'm home and I cried when I left Madagascar, now I don't know whether it's, that's all imagination or not, but that's how I felt. Well that's how I felt when I entered the convent, I just felt so at home.$This is 1936, you joined this order [Oblate Sisters of Providence], now where did you join, in?--$$On Chase Street, which is in the inner city--$$He- here in Baltimore [Maryland] (simultaneous)?$$--(simultaneous) it's the old motherhouse.$$Here in Baltimore?$$Yeah, the old motherhouse was called Saint Frances Convent [Saint Frances Church and Convent, Baltimore, Maryland] and academy [Saint Frances Academy, Baltimore, Maryland], it, it, it really was a trifle thing 'cause at one time we had orphans, so it was an orphanage, too. But when I entered it was simply an academy and the convent, the motherhouse that was really very crowded with novices and students and sisters. So, when then got a chance to by this property out here in 1933, mother superior was approached by the lawyer, Mr. Galvin [ph.], he said, "Mother, there's a property out in (unclear) that you can't afford to miss and it's on sale for," I forget what amount, what amount it was, but it was more than Mother had. But eventually, it didn't sell, it was the Depression [Great Depression], so eventually it came down to such a low price that Mother said she couldn't afford not to buy it. So she had three bonds and in cashing in the three bonds, she had just enough to buy the property, forty-six acres, a couple of buildings were on it, a mansion, which burned down in 1946, electrical wiring and a barn and a couple of other buildings there. But, we couldn't build this house for ye- decades af- after that, you know, it just, we had ride out the depression. Then one day sister said to mother superior, "Mother I know how I can get you a million dollars." And she said, "How can you get a million dollars?" She said, "We'll make aprons and sell 'em for a dollar a piece, I'll make a million aprons and we'll have a million dollars." Mother said, "Go ahead." So, we sold, made and stitched and sold aprons for some years, we, we couldn't visit home, but we knew that if we took a sales at our home, like have a Avon [Avon Products Inc.] sale. That our parents would be glad to support that because we couldn't home, at home any other way, so we had all over the country, we had sales, and we financed the building of this place [Our Lady of Mount Providence, Baltimore, Maryland], it cost a million dollars to build it, now it would cost many million, you know, but in those days it cost only one million dollars, the ground was broken in '58 [1958], I believe it was, you know, my dates are, take all this with a grain of salt.$$Okay.$$But we moved in in 1960 [sic. 1961].$$Okay.$$I moved in with the first crowd.

Betty Gross

Betty Gross was born on October 24, 1914, in Rock Island, Illinois. She was one of seven children born to a homemaker mother and a father who worked as a plasterer. She graduated from Canton High School in Canton, Illinois, in 1933. Following graduation, Gross followed her older sister Catherine, who worked in Chicago's Provident Hospital, into the nursing profession.

From 1940 until 1942, Gross worked as staff nurse at Provident Hospital. In 1942, she took a break to continue her education at Howard University in Washington, D.C. She received her degree from Howard University in sociology with a minor in psychology in 1946. In 1951, she received her B.S. in nursing from Loyola University and in 1957, earned an M.S. from DePaul University.

For thirty-one years at Provident Hospital, she worked her way up from staff nurse to the director of Nursing and Nursing Education. During her long career, Gross helped establish two allergy clinics, one at Provident and the other at Howard University's Freedmen Hospital. In 1977, she left Provident and became a lecturer at Chicago State University.

Gross served eight years as a member of the Illinois Nurses Association Board of Directors. She has been a member of Zonta International since 1968, and a member of the Alpha Gamma Pi Honorary Sorority since 1964. Gross passed away in 2005.

Accession Number

A2002.101

Sex

Female

Interview Date

7/15/2002

Last Name

Gross

Middle Name

W.

Organizations
Schools

Canton High School

Provident Hospital School of Nursing

Loyola University Chicago

DePaul University

Howard University

First Name

Betty

Birth City, State, Country

Rock Island

HM ID

GRO01

Favorite Season

All Seasons

State

Illinois

Favorite Vacation Destination

Cruises

Favorite Quote

Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Illinois

Birth Date

10/24/1914

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Chicago

Country

USA

Favorite Food

Greens

Death Date

5/16/2005

Short Description

Nursing education administrator and nurse Betty Gross (1914 - 2005 ) was the former director of the Provident Hospital School of Nursing in Chicago, Illinois. During her long career, Gross helped establish two allergy clinics, one at Provident and the other at Howard University's Freedmen Hospital. In 1977, she left Provident and became a lecturer at Chicago State University.

Employment

Provident Hospital

Chicago State University

Favorite Color

Black

DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Betty Gross interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Betty Gross's favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Betty Gross talks about her father's background, part 1

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Betty Gross talks about her father's background, part 2

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Betty Gross talks about her mother's background

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Betty Gross discusses her siblings

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Betty Gross remembers her childhood home and community, part 1

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Betty Gross remembers her childhood home and community, part 2

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Betty Gross recalls past school teachers

Tape: 1 Story: 10 - Betty Gross explains her early interest in nursing

Tape: 1 Story: 11 - Betty Gross tells of Provident Hospital's history

Tape: 1 Story: 12 - Betty Gross gives an overview of her training at nursing school

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Betty Gross talks about her transition from Provident Hospital to Howard University

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Betty Gross explains meeting and marrying her husband

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Betty Gross talks about her religious participation

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Betty Gross details her successes as Director of Nursing at Provident Hospital

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Betty Gross shares her encounters with racism in the medical field

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Betty Gross describes the support she received from the employees of Provident Hospital

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Betty Gross explains Provident Hospital's significance in the black community

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Betty Gross remembers members of the Provident Hospital Nursing School Committee

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Betty Gross discusses some of her famous patients at Provident Hospital

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Betty Gross talks about black patrons visiting Provident Hospital

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Betty Gross remembers physicians from Provident Hospital, part 1

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Betty Gross recalls organizations she's been affilliated with, part 1

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Betty Gross remembers physicians from Provident Hospital, part 2

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Betty Gross recalls organizations she's been affilliated with, part 2

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Betty Gross talks about Provident Hospital's emergency room

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Betty Gross comments on the current state of the medical industry

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Betty Gross talks about her public image as a nurse

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Betty Gross remembers a compliment from the Joint Commission on Accreditation of Hospitals

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Betty Gross shares thoughts on integrated and segregated hospitals

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Betty Gross explains how she was a trendsetter in the nursing field

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - How Betty Gross would like to be remembered

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Betty Gross discusses her family's involvement in her ife