Irish Immigrants In America

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Williams addresses how the Irish-American community made efforts to create or negotiate an image for themselves. By the 1910s, “according to [Thomas] Cripps, the trade papers, staffed heavily by Irish Americans, were on the lookout for ethnic slurs, going so far as to evaluate films with Irish themes for their appropriateness for Irish neighborhood theaters. These Irish reactions coincided with the onset of the decline in ethnic humor that…had been the dominant form of vaudeville comedy from 1875 to 1905” (Williams 1996, p. 201). Williams continues on to explain that the new urban Irish community were pushing strongly for respectability and upward mobility in sociopolitical spheres. The songs being written and produced after the turn of…show more content…
The sentiments held by those who were leaving Ireland influenced much of American popular music. Miller’s book exposes the history of the Irish immigrant as particularly dark. Many Irish immigrants struggled to make a home and get ahead in American society, forced to work in often-times life-threatening and low-paying jobs. Because of this, Irish immigrants and their children often lived in poverty. However, by the late 1800s, Irish-Americans and Irish immigrants were making progress in climbing the social ladder in America, and much of their success can be attributed to how they represented themselves through popular media. As Miller states, “by the early twentieth century Irish-America was a relatively mature and exceptionally diverse society, enjoying some real prosperity, far greater security than in 1850-70, and inordinate influence in politics and organized labor” (Miller 1985, p. 492). Also, the children of Irish immigrants had better access to education, which helped them to become more assimilated into the American culture. Regardless of this upward movement in American society, Irish-Americans still felt a disconnect with mainstream America and they still felt as if they were forced out of Ireland, even though some had never set foot on the island. Even with this progress in social structure, “as late as 1904, Irish-Americans still made up a disproportionately high percentage (11 percent) of the nation’s casual laborers” (Miller 1985, p. 499), confined to heavy labor jobs like plumbers, roofers, mining, and iron making. Some Irish-American men were able to get managerial jobs as foremen and pit bosses, as other immigrant populations arrived and took up the lower status
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