An introduction to my family genealogy story.
|During the industrial expansion of the 1880’s in the United States, cheap labor was in high demand. The Irish were fleeing the economic depression and famine in their own country. Though the Irish immigrants were willing and ready to work, they often did not speak English very well and would have to learn while working. Some employers offered classes in English and the communities offered Americanization events to further acclimate the Irish to the American way of life. These events included parades, patriotic presentations, and citizenship classes. This was all in an effort to bring the community together with common values.
However, there was a persistent amount of discrimination against the Irish worker. For one, the Irish brought their own religious issues to America, as some were Protestant and others were Catholic. The division between these two beliefs resulted in fighting and self imposed segregation of families into Protestant and Catholic neighborhoods in America. So the Irish were known for fighting, and would often bathe their problems in alcohol. This reputation preceded them to better paying positions and often a job posting would state that “No Irish need apply!”
The standard of living in Ireland was so poor that the Irish immigrant was willing to live in much poorer conditions than most Americans were accustomed to. They could make due living as entire families in an attic, basement, or a few shared rooms. It may have been fine to start out living in those crowded conditions, however, the low wages offered to the Irish offered no way to work out of poor living conditions. This further segregated the Irish immigrant from the established Americans of other immigrant backgrounds.