Urged by their mothers to pursue an education, the “one thing they can’t take away,” the American daughters of Irish-born mothers are the unsung heroines of Irish achievement in the United States. While immigrant mothers often became servants of the American rich, their educated daughters became servants of the poor in America’s public schools.
By the first decade of the twentieth century, Irish-American women were the largest single ethnic group among teachers in cities such as Boston, Chicago, and San Francisco. In an era when social mobility was measured almost exclusively by the success of men, the teacher-daughters of Irish born mothers led Irish America into the middle class. Professor Nolan will trace the evolution of this educational and occupational achievement across two generations of Irish women in the United States.
JANET NOLAN is professor emerita of Irish, Irish-American, and European history at Loyola University Chicago where she taught for almost a quarter of a century after receiving her PhD in history from the University of Connecticut. She has also just completed a year as an adjunct lecturer in European history at the University of Rhode Island. She is the author of two books, Ourselves Alone: Women and Irish Emigration, 1885-1920 (UP of KY, 1989) and Servants of the Poor: Teachers and Mobility in Ireland and Irish America (Notre Dame UP, 2004), as well as numerous essays, articles, and reviews. She has given invited lectures in Ireland, Northern Ireland, England, Switzerland, throughout the United States, and on television and radio in both the United States and Ireland. She now lives in Portsmouth, RI. We welcome Dr. Nolan for her first speaking engagement with the Museum.