Signed Copy: The Forgotten Irish: Irish Immigrant Experiences in America
- By Damian Shiels
- Paperback: 288 pages
On the eve of the American Civil War, 1.6 million Irish-born people were living in the United States. Most of them had emigrated to the major industrialized cities of the northeast. New York alone was home to more than 200,000 Irish, one-quarter of the total population. As a result, thousands of Irish emigrants fought for the Union between 1861 and 1865.
Drawing from the National Archives’ widows and dependent pension records from the Civil War era, Damian Shiels has pieced together the stories of 35 Irish families whose lives were emblematic of the nature of the 19th-century Irish emigrant experience. These records often included letters and private correspondence between family members that revealed unparalleled accounts of their lives in both Ireland and America. The great cost of this valuable information comes from the death of a soldier or sailor. For these files to exist, the widows and dependents of deceased men had to apply for their pensions. From this sad starting point, we learn of the great sacrifice of these Irish-born immigrants and the stories of communities of immigrants in America and of their communities in Ireland.
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