ON THIS DATE in 1879, sixteen-year-old Eliza Shirley hosted America’s first-ever Salvation Army meeting at a former chair factory in Philadelphia.
A Christian organization founded in England in 1865, the Salvation Army provides aid and shelter for the poor.
Only 12 people attended that first gathering, but the Salvation Army steadily gained followers in the U.S. and organizers soon opened a second hall in west Philadelphia.
Today, there are about 9,000 Salvation Army centers and units in the U.S., and the organization operates in more than 120 other countries.
The Eliza Shirley House in Philadelphia provides shelter and aid for the city’s abused, addicted, and displaced women.
Wendy G. Lawton published a children’s book in 2004 titled The Hallelujah Lass: A Story Based on the Life of Salvation Army Pioneer Eliza Shirley.