Daniel A. Lord

Daniel A. Lord

Daniel Aloysius Lord, S.J. (23 April 1888 15 January 1955) was a prolific and popular American Catholic writer. His most influential work was possibly in drafting the 1930 Production Code for motion pictures.


Born in Chicago, Illinois, April 23, 1888, Daniel Lord attended local Catholic elementary and high school before attending S. Ignatius College. In 1909, then entered the Society of Jesus at St. Stanislaus Seminary in Florissant, Missouri. From this point forward, he lived in St. Louis, Missouri. He went on to receive an M.A. in Philosophy from St. Louis University, and taught English there from 1917-1920. He was ordained a priest in 1923.

In April 1924 Lord addressed 400 delegates of the second annual convention of the St. Louis Archdiocese Council of Catholic Women, where he spoke of the Church as an agency for breaking down provincialism.[1] That same year he was a Commencement speaker, giving the Baccalaureate sermon at Webster University in St. Louis.[2] He professed as a member of the Society of Jesus in 1925.

Lord became national director of the Sodality of Our Lady in 1926, also serving as editor of its magazine, The Queen's Work. A loose network of student-based charitable and devotional groups often headquartered at Jesuit educational institutions, it was labeled a dying organization before his involvement, but expanded quickly under Lord’s leadership. Lord drafted its theme song, For Christ the King, known to many mid-century American parochial school children. He also wrote, in 1941, the school song for Ursuline College in Louisville, Kentucky.[3]

Lord stepped down from editorship in 1948, but continued to write for the magazine for the remainder of his life, producing more than 90 books, over 300 pamphlets, and countless articles, plays, and songs.[4]"For a 30-year period in the last century, Rev. Daniel Lord, S.J. preached his down-to-earth spirituality by distributing dozens of pamphlets on family life, children, and marriage directly to the people in parish churches."[5]

Lord also staged musical pageants, among which was the "City of Freedom", held in Detroit in July 1951. He also produced a syndicated weekly column, Along the Way, as well as a regular youth feature for Our Sunday Visitor.[6]


In 1927, Lord served as one of six technical consultants, of various denominations, to Cecil B. DeMille for his silent film, King of Kings.[7] The advent of talkies alarmed him. "Silent smut had been bad," he would write in his autobiography, Played by Ear. "Vocal smut cried to the censors for vengeance."[8]

In 1929, he began work on the Production Code, a project envisioned by censor Martin Quigley, publisher of a Hollywood trade journal, and bolstered by Cardinal George Mundelein of the Archdiocese of Chicago. "Here was a chance to read morality and decency into mass recreation," Lord wrote. He aimed "to tie the Ten Commandments in with the newest and most widespread form of entertainment," aspiring to an ecumenical standard of decency, so that "the follower of any religion, or any man of decent feeling and conviction, would read it and instantly agree."

In 1930, Lord's draft of the Code was accepted by Will H. Hays and promulgated to the studios with only minor changes, but it lacked an enforcement mechanism, and Lord came to consider it a failure. It was only with the mid-1934 advent of the Production Code Administration headed by Joseph Breen that the Code became the law of Hollywood for more than 25 years.

In the 1930s and 1940s, Lord's writings touched on politics, seeking a Catholic middle ground between socialism and unfettered capitalism. He was a tireless advocate of racial fairness, and frequently engaged issues of economic justice,[6] Dare We Hate Jews was his response to anti-Semitism, attacking it as incompatible with Catholic teachings.[9]

In 1954 Lord was diagnosed with incurable lung cancer. He died at Saint John's Hospital, St. Louis on 15 January 1955.[10]

Works (partial)


Other pamphlets include: "You can't live that way",[15] The Call to Catholic Action, [16] and Our Part in the Mystical Body.



  1. "St. Louis Archdiocesan Council Holds Second Convention", National Catholic Welfare Conference Bulletin, Vol.VI, No.1, June 1924
  2. "Commencement Speakers", Webster University
  3. "Ursuline College", Ursuline Sisters of Louisville
  4. Endres, David J., "Dan Lord, Hollywood Priest", America, December 12, 2005
  5. Alexander S.J., Andy and Waldron, Maureen McCann. "Spirituality Online: Following Ignatius into the Global Town Square", National Jesuit News, June 2001
  6. 1 2 "Rev. Daniel Lord S.J. Papers", Georgetown University Special Collections Research Center
  7. Reid, John Howard. Big Screen Bible Lore, p.73, Lulu.com ISBN 9781304300300
  8. O'Morain, Padraig. "That’s Men: What to do on a date; and other vintage values", The Irish Times, August 26, 2014
  9. Doherty, Thomas. "Was Hollywood’s Famed Censor an Antisemite?", The Jewish Daily Forward, December 11, 2007
  10. "Prominent Priest Dies A Year After He Was Told of Doom". The San Bernardino County Sun. 16 January 1955. Retrieved 7 January 2016 via Newspapers.com.
  11. Finn, Francis James and Lord, Daniel A., Father Finn, S.J., the story of his life told by himself for his friends young and old, Benziger Bros., New York, 1929
  12. Lord, Daniel A., I can read ANYTHING!? All right! - then read THIS!, The Queen's Work, 1932
  13. Lord SJ, Daniel A., Confession is a Joy, The Queen's Work, 1933
  14. Lord, SJ, Daniel A., Fashionable Sin - A Modern Discussion of an Unpopular Subject, The Queen's Work, 1934
  15. Lord, Daniel A. You can't live that way, The Queen's Work, 1934
  16. Lord, Daniel A., The Call to Catholic Action, The Queen's Way, 1935

Further reading

External links

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