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Erin's Daughters in America: Irish Immigrant Women in the Nineteenth Century (The Johns Hopkins University Studies in Historical and Political Science) 1st Edition

3.8 out of 5 stars 10 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0801828720
ISBN-10: 0801828724
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Editorial Reviews

Review

The most sensitive treatment of Irish culture... [and] the most complete history we have of the Irish female experience.

(Labor History)

A vision of women with their own economic aspirations, actively engaged in the climb towards financial security.

(Women's Review of Books)

From the Back Cover

Described here are thousands of Irish women who saw in America the chance to utilize the energy, ambition, and ability that would otherwise have remained stifled by the poverty and social inflexibility of their native land.
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Product Details

  • Series: The Johns Hopkins University Studies in Historical and Political Science (Book 101)
  • Paperback: 208 pages
  • Publisher: Johns Hopkins University Press; 1 edition (November 1, 1983)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0801828724
  • ISBN-13: 978-0801828720
  • Product Dimensions: 5.9 x 0.5 x 9.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 10.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #710,240 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Although at first glance Diner's exhaustive study appears to be fraught with the political correctness and feminist biases that plague so many American academics, in reality _Erin's Daughters_ portrays the story of a gallant group that was able to overcome barriers of poverty, ignorance, and disease to succeed in a New World. The Irish women received no help from the government, from existing charities, or from the Catholic Church, but they were still able to reach the promised land of middle-class America due to their focus on economic goals. The women of Ireland carried their cultural values to America with them, playing a key role in the development of the greatest nation on earth. In order to understand this role, I urge you to read this book.
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While I don't agree with everything Ms. Dinar has to say, this is a very solid book and far from being a feminist interpretation, I found it as willing to blame Irish women as to excuse them.

As another reviewer pointed out, the second half is much stronger and it is fairly obvious that the writer is most comfortable once she has real numbers to theorize from.

The one quibble - due to when she wrote this book (1983), Ms. Dinar feels that schizophrenia is a reaction to upbringing and blames the high rate of schizophrenia in Irish males on their mothers. Since I'm fairly certain that the new research leads to a biological & inherited basis, this would be like blaming Tay Sachs on the fact that Jewish mothers made chicken soup. I think if she had the time a new look at this would update the book wonderfully and certainly make my review more positive.
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By A Customer on February 21, 2001
The second half of the book is clearly superior to the first half. The lack of hard data from prior to and immediately after the Famine seems to lead the author to some curious and questionable conclusions regarding the economic motivation of the Irish women in America. She repeatedly attributes late marriage and spinsterhood to the "traditional" cultural separation of Irish women and men along with the general lack of character of the Irish male. She fails to examine the profound impact of the Famine on women--watching their families and friends starve to death along with forced immigration--and their determination to prevent this from happening again. I found her theories rather determindly sexist.
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Prior to reading Erin's Daughters, I assumed that the Irish emigrated as families. After reading the book, I researched my family's history in a coal-mining town in northeast PA and found single Irish women working on isolated farms and for professionals as early as 1860. After further research, I learned that my great-grandmother (seen sitting in the photo) was the first of her family to emigrate to America. After her arrival, she sent for two brothers, one of whom was killed in the mines. (Her husband was killed in a roof fall in the mines.) A sister followed and worked as a domestic in Boston. I would never have imagined my great-grandmother as being the vanguard of her family before reading this book.
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In some ways, the book seems to present conflicting views. Women followed Catholic norms. That made them nominally obedient to husbands to the extent that they would serve men a hot meal and accept the warm leftovers. That sounds a lot like an Afghan village today, where women are reduced to eating scraps and becoming too anemic to safely bear the huge number of children that their circumstances demand. It seems that Irish women were able to carve out positions for themselves, while the men became involved in politics. It has been interesting to look at the women in my family, including some alcoholics, and better understand them.The Ayatollah's Suitcase
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