[Ads-l] "No Irish need apply" (UNCLASSIFIED)

George Thompson george.thompson at NYU.EDU
Mon Aug 3 16:44:07 UTC 2015

Looking at the Brooklyn Eagle only, through 1870, I see "no Irish need
apply" on March 29, 1860, and the day following; May 1, 1863, and the day
following;FFebruary 16, 1865; August 12, 1868, and the day
following;November 18, 1868, which specifically welcomes applications from
"German or colored"; and October 12, 1870.  Searching "irish need", I find
on January 22, 1869, and the day following, the advice "Irish need not
I also note notices that specify "A Protestant Woman" or "American
The advisory "no Irish need apply" appeared more frequently after 1870.

Searching my own notes from NYC newspapers, through 1870, it seems that I
didn't note that phrase in anything.
It was standard practice for the newspapers to label the perp in street
violence, robberies, family violence, &c. as Irish, whenever applicable,
often with an editorial comment deploring the prevalence of such crime
among the Irish.  When the Irish penchant for drunkenness, wife-beating,
&c. wasn't being deplored, it was a source of amusement, from the curious
way the Irish talked and behaved in general.  (At least one of us will
think of parallels in the treatment of another group in the newspapers,
indeed until recent memory.)

            There were several cases of complaints against husbands for
beating their wives, but the parties being Irish, the women kept away, as
usual, and the husbands were discharged.
            NY D Express, August 28, 1839, p. 2, col. 5

            A brutal, savage looking, uncouth Irishman, named Michael
McEntire [was arrested November 18 for riotous behavior and wife-beating].  The
Magistrate committed him for further examination, and to give an
opportunity for the witnesses of his rascality to appear against him.
            NY D Express, November 20, 1840, p. 2, col. 7

            David Conlin, a blathering Irishman, guilty of an assault and
battery on his wife.  ***

            NY D Express, August 3, 1842, p. 2, col. 5

            [crime statistics, March 1845-March 1846, for the upper part of
the city, by offense and national origin of the perp: U. S. male and
female, black and white; Ireland, male and female; elsewhere]
            N-Y D Tribune, May 1, 1846, p. 2, col. 5

            Dialogue at a Public Dinner at a Fashionable Hotel up Town.  [an
anecdote in dialog: an ignorant Irish waiter doesn't know what *pate de
foie gras* is]  Moral. -- At public dinners where the waiters are Irish,
there would be some advantage in having the bill of fare printed solely in
the Hibernian language.
            N-Y D Tribune, June 12, 1847, p. 2, col. 5

            OUR CITY AMUSEMENTS.  How the Mass of Our People Amuse
Themselves.  By the Strong-Minded Reporter for the New-York Times.  ["the
German portion of our population" makes "music one of their chief means of
amusement, and are strictly decent in their public pleasures"]  Those, on
the other hand, who delight in indelicate and indecent exhibitions, are
chiefly the lower class of Irish, and negroes.
            N-Y Times, December 3, 1858, p. 1   [the Times of this era was
hell-bent on Sabbath-keeping]


On Mon, Aug 3, 2015 at 10:06 AM, Mullins, Bill CIV (US) <
william.d.mullins18.civ at mail.mil> wrote:

> Jensen's original article is available here:
> http://tigger.uic.edu/~rjensen/no-irish.htm
> I can't find Fried's rebuttal article, except behind a (rather expensive)
> paywall:
> http://intl-jsh.oxfordjournals.org/content/early/2015/07/03/jsh.shv066.full
> (and, btw, Fried's title, "No Irish Need Deny", is great)
> Does anyone have contact info for Fried that I can ask her to send a copy?
> > -----Original Message-----
> > From: American Dialect Society [mailto:ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU] On
> Behalf Of Jesse Sheidlower
> > Sent: Sunday, August 02, 2015 12:20 PM
> > Subject: "No Irish need apply"
> >
> > ---------------------- Information from the mail header
> -----------------------
> > Sender:       American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
> > Poster:       Jesse Sheidlower <jester at PANIX.COM>
> > Subject:      "No Irish need apply"
> >
> -------------------------------------------------------------------------------
> >
> > Slightly off-topic, but interesting: In 2002, a professor published an
> article claiming that he could barely find any evidence for the supposed
> > notices reading "No Irish need apply", and that the notion that the
> Irish were thus discriminated against stemmed from a sense of
> > victimhood among modern Irish-Americans.
> >
> > A high-school student with better database-fu has no proved that, in
> fact, there were many such notices. The student's article is appearing
> > in a major journal.
> >
> >
> http://www.longislandwins.com/columns/detail/high_school_student_proves_professor_wrong_when_he_denied_no_irish_need_app
> >
> > Jesse Sheidlower
> >
> > ------------------------------------------------------------
> > The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org
> ------------------------------------------------------------
> The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

George A. Thompson
The Guy Who Still Looks Stuff Up in Books.
Author of A Documentary History of "The African Theatre", Northwestern
Univ. Pr., 1998..

The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

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