Browse Exhibits (6 total)


Irish Immigrants Arriving in the US between 1840 to 1853.png

General Background of the experiences of the average Irish Immigrant, and how it affected what work they could find in the United States.

The Transcontinental Railroad


The History Channel- History of Us- Transcontinental Railroad


'An old man with long gray whiskers came through the cars selling popcorn, chewing gum and candy. "Hey!" said one of his customers. "I thought young boys were supposed to do your job."


"I was a boy when this train started."'

-- On A Slow Train Through Arkansas, Thomas W. Jackson, 1903.

Coal Mining


"Irish immigrants often entered the workforce at the bottom of the occupational ladder and took on the menial and dangerous jobs that were often avoided by other workers. Many Irish women became servants or domestic workers, while many Irish men labored in coal mines and built railroads and canals."

“Irish - Joining the Workforce - Immigration...- Classroom Presentation | Teacher Resources - Library of Congress.” Webpage. Accessed October 21, 2014.

Irish female labor


Irish female laborers, when coming to America faced a large set of challenges aquiring work, and disrcimination against Irish immigrants did not help matters. With the influx of Irish immigrants however, Irish women would go on to hold the majority of domestic service jobs.  Unmarried Irish women served as a crucial economic lifeline for family members who remained in Ireland, and it was common for Irish leaders in the US to discourage marriage among female immigrants, since it prevented them from earning wages outside the home.

Irish in the Civil War


There were many ethnic groups that fought in the civil war none as famous, or as respected, as the Irish. 140,000 Irish-born soldiers in the federal armies, 1/3 came from New York.[1] An all Irish brigade was formed in November 1861 that comprised of the 69th, 63rd, and 88th New York regiments which totaled around 4,000 troops. 70 or so would make it back to New York after Gettysburg unscathed,  after the decommissioning of the brigade following the New York riots. Irish immigrants joined the union army during the civil war for many reasons such as patriotism both for the US and Ireland, hopes that the US would aid Ireland in its quest for independence or Fenianism, and the hope to be treated as equal.

It is important to look at the jobs readily available for immigrants today as those same manual labor jobs are worked by recent immigrants mainly Hispanics. Many Hispanics join the army today due in large part to the DREAM Act or programs like it that gurantee citizenship after 8 years served in the armed forces. "Between 2001 and 2005 the number of Hispanics enlistd in the Army increased by 26 percent. There are nearly 213,965 Hispanic soldiers currently serving in the US armed forces. In 2010 Latinas made up 19 percent of all new enlistees, and serve more than latino men as Latinas make up 7% of veterans and Latinos make up 6%." 


Cardenas, Vanessa, and Sophia Kerby. "The State of Latinos in the United States." Center for American Progress. August 8, 2012. Accessed December 11, 2014.

About Us

 Welcome to our website!

The question our group wanted to answer was: what types of jobs were readily available to Irish immigrants in the mid to late 1800's. The argument we present is that the discrimination and religious persecution these Irish immigrants faced played a large role in the jobs they were able to aquire, and it also affected their treatment once in the workforce. We wanted to make sure to include the most relavent jobs that Irish immigrants held including domestic service, their role in the war, in the construction railroads, and also in coal mines. We thought by setting up these categories as such we could aquire a large contrast of insights about indvidual experiences, and also what role gender played in terms of the job types both genders held. Treatment of Irish immigrants has been something we are all aware of, and it is universally known that they suffered through harsh treatment from employers, and many other Americans. Our group wanted to understand more about exactly what kinds of obstacles they were up against, and how these hardships forced them to rise up and fight harder for the lives they wanted.

Group roles:

Molly Hamdan: I had the responsibility of looking into Irish female immigrants and needed to figure out what jobs were readily available to them, and also how prejudices againtst these women affected how they were treated once they had jobs.

Elizabeth Thompson: I tasked myself with looking into jobs that the Irish had on the Transcontinental Railroad and what the conditions were like and how prejudices in cities played a role in the employment of these immigrants.

Chris Leary: I had the responsibility of obtaining background information about Irish immigrants' journey to America, espeically in relation to the potato famine.

Karim Abdelnour: I had the responsibility to argue about the discrimination of the Irish immigrants labor in coal mines.

Matthew Paulino: I tasked myself with answering the jobs that were available to the Irish within the Military. More specifically I highlighted the Irish involvement in the civil war, and the many historical battles they took part in. 

Carlos Carreras-Soto: I hade the responsbility to help Chris add to the background section of the website. My part of the background consisted of the living situations for the Irish at the time.

About Us:

Elizabeth Thompson is a Junior at George Mason and is a Conflict Analysis and Resolution major.

Karim Abdelnour is a Junior at George Mason and is an Acounting major.

Matthew Paulino is a Senior at George Mason majoring in Global Affairs with a concentration in Global Governance. He worked on the civil war section, and was assisted by Karim who made the map.

Maliha Hamdan is an English Lit major and sophmore here at GMU, her responsibility for this project was looking into Irish female labor.

Chris Leary is a Junior at George Mason and is an Information Technology major.

Carlos Carreras-Soto is a Senior at George Mason and is a Sports Management major.