Irish American Voluntary Organizations

Irish American Voluntary Organizations

Irish American Voluntary Organizations

Irish American Voluntary Organizations

Synopsis

"This book represents a laudable contribution to American ethnic studies. . . . [It] provides an excellent guide to some seventy bodies." Special Libraries

Excerpt

The entries in this book are in themselves evidence of the continual existence of Irish American organizations for almost two and one-half centuries. The first groups to appear on the scene were the fraternal-charitable organizations composed largely of well-to-do Irish immigrants, most of whom were Protestants, not Catholics. The first of these, the Charitable Irish Society, was formed in Boston in 1737. Some decades later the Society of the Friendly Sons of St. Patrick for the Relief of Emigrants from Ireland (Philadelphia), the Society of the Friendly Sons of St. Patrick in the City of New York, the Hibernian Society of Charleston, South Carolina, the Hibernian Society of Baltimore, and the Hibernian Society of Savannah were established. These organizations not only gave their members the opportunity to socialize with their fellow Irishmen, they also provided charity to less fortunate Irishmen. Although in their early years these organizations played prominent roles in the Irish communities in their respective cities, as the nineteenth century advanced and new groups arose to meet the multiplicity of spiritual, emotional, and material needs of Irish immigrants and their children, and as the membership of these organizations continued to remain rather exclusive, some of them tended to move to the peripheries of their Irish communities. Yet their very survival to the present day is proof that they have continued to serve a meaningful purpose.

Many of the organizations formed in the nineteenth century mirrored the concern of these earlier groups for the less fortunate. Immigrant aid societies usually existed for a time at least in most places with any significant Irish settlement. The most prominent of these was the Irish Emigrant Society of New York, formed in 1841. Such societies seemed to mushroom during the years of the Great Famine; the Irish Emigrant Society of Detroit and the Hibernian Benevolent Emigrant Society of Chicago are typical of some of them.

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