Immigrants of the Irish Famine (1845-1855)

Carol Groneman, John Jay College of Criminal Justice, CUNY
CUNY, Graduate Center

Historian Carol Groneman, whose dissertation grounds the scholarship of ASHP’s documentary “The Five Points: New York’s Irish Working Class in the 1850s,” looks at what happened when immigrants of the Irish famine came to the United States (1845-1855):

  • How were they perceived?
  • What institutions were built from their participation?
  • What meaning might we extract from their experience?
  • How does their experience resonate for today’s immigrants?

Groneman uses historical visual evidence and select primary sources such as census data to unpack the profound impact Irish immigration had on society. Different from the wave of Irish immigrants who came at the turn of the nineteenth-century, the Irish famine group swelled urban centers such as Boston, Chicago, and New York, and established Irish-American identity through the development of ethnic neighborhoods, the Democratic Party, parochial schools, and labor organizations.