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A kaleidoscope of green: Irish American images from 1850-2007

ProQuest Dissertations and Theses, 2009
Dissertation
Author: Margaret E. L Howard
Abstract:
This dissertation focuses on images of Irish Americans as presented in various wood carvings, paintings, political cartoons, comics, film and contemporary children's picture books from 1850 through 2007. My hypothesis tests the validity of employing historical and contemporary images as acceptable identifiers of social and cultural assimilation. My research couples key historical, political and economic events of the Irish American experience with the imagery collected. My analysis compares these images to sociological theories of assimilation and multicultural measures of authenticity. My final assessment employs assimilation measurements and categorizes these images into four evolutionary stages- the Irish immigrant, the Irish American, the American Irish and the Irish of tomorrow. While images from this dissertation suggest assimilation in areas of cultural and social acculturation and civic engagement other areas of identification and behavioral/attitudinal reception show only partial assimilation. As example, American Irish have not only been able to maintain and strengthen many of their early Irish organizations and customs but they have enticed many non Irish to join in their cultural activities. As the Irish immigrant assimilated into Anglo conformity, available images reveal an American mosaic with a decidedly green tint.

Table of Contents Acknowledgements i Abstract ii Table of Contents iii Chapter I Introduction 1 Chapter II The Transformation of the Irish American 16 From Emigrant to Changeling Chapter III The Evolving Image-Irish American to 45 American Irish Chapter IV The American Irish-First American but 75 Always Irish Chapter V Irish American Images in Children's 124 Picture Books Chapter VI American Irish-Assimilation or Acculturation.... 162 Or Both? Figure Notes 202 Children's Book Story Summaries 209 Bibliography 231 iii

Chapter I Introduction It has been said that today's Irish American is more prideful of his heritage than the Irishman himself. On March 17th, 2009, parades were held across the United States and in at least 22 other countries, in celebration of Ireland and her patron saint, Saint Patrick. Thousands of participants took to 'the wearin' of the green,' attending or marching in parades and toasting the Irish with a glass of Guinness. For that special day everything is green, from beer to grade school cupcakes, and images of shamrocks, clay pipes, shillelaghs, and red haired leprechauns with derby or top hats, breeches and riding coats, are prevalent. The seeds for this style of international celebration of the Irish were not first sown in Ireland but were actually initiated by Irish Americans and their charitable soeieties— perhaps understandably. In 1841, Ireland's population had just reached over 8 million people; by 1881, 3.5 million of those people had immigrated to America. At that time, several urban cities had populations where half of the residents were of Irish descent.1 Those who emigrated from Ireland because of unbearable conditions—political oppression, economic limitations, abject poverty and hunger— never severed their roots. By 1900, there were more Irish born in the US than in Ireland. Today, 34 million Americans reported Irish ancestry in the 2000 US census.3 The Irish American immigrant 1 Oscar Handlin, A Pictorial History of Immigration. (New York: Crown Publishers, 1972) 112-113. 2 Christine Kinealy, A New History of Ireland. (Gloucestershire: Sutton Publishing Limited, 2004) 336. 3 '2000 US Census,' < www.anirishlife.com>. 24 April 2009. 1

brought Ireland with him and would not let go. As the Irish immigrant assimilated into Anglo conformity, the American mosaic took on decidedly a green tint. Centuries of oppression, conquest and brutality laid the foundation for Ireland's mass exodus. Ireland's core foundation and heritage can be traced to the arrival of the Celts, an Indo European people, in 300 B.C. The culture of the Celts had centuries to seep into the Irish fabric of life. The Celtic language, a forerunner to Gaelic dialects, the Celtic King and warrior, the 'Tautha De Dannan', ring forts, religion and legends can be traced to this occupation. The Vikings followed in the last decades of the 8th century, A.D. to be ultimately overthrown by the Normans in the 12 century. Centuries of Kings followed as English (and later British) reign took many forms. Ireland was merely a source of income, a possession to be counted in assessing the English empire and consequently, Ireland did not advance as a country under English rule. The English focused on colonizing the smaller towns for trade, while maintaining Ireland's agrarian economy for their own benefit. They imposed subjugating rules and the Protestant religion on the Irish Catholic people. The Irish peasant survived by providing labor for others, returning home to rented land that could barely produce enough food for his family. In 1821 and then again in 1845, the potato crop failed because of blight. This basic food item was the staple of the Irish family diet. Without the potato crops to sustain his family, the tenant farmer family ultimately faced starvation and death. Emigration was the only path to survival.5 Significant Irish emigration to America began in 1820, rising dramatically in 1850. 4 Kinealy A New History of Ireland. 5 Christine Kinealy, A Death Dealing Famine-The Great Hunger in Ireland. (London: Pluto Press, 1997). 2

Those fleeing Ireland joined millions of other immigrants from European countries who came to America for social and economic relief. While many aspects of that migratory experience were similar, the Irish immigrant and the generations that followed never totally assimilated into the America lifestyle. Instead, these new Americans from Ireland and their descendants choose a hybrid form of nationalism, never releasing their pride and connection to their old homeland. Social historians can point to many events, historical, political and economic, that have helped to construct this evolving Irish American identity; yet the Arts—films, music and literature— have also played an important role in creating Irish American images. Over the past 150 years, a kaleidoscope of Irish American stereotypes has paraded before the American public. Frightening sketches of brutish apes, thugs, dimwitted servants, and crooked clergy have evolved into loveable parish priests, prize fighters, and policemen. This Irish American evolution continued to advance from everyman to nationally recognized film stars, writers and politicians, including the supreme politician—President of the United States. This dissertation will attempt to trace stages of assimilation of the Irish immigrant from 1850 to 2007 by examining an array of pictorial images of the Irish persona in America. Simply defined, 'assimilation' is the process whereby groups of one culture begin to blend with and into groups of another culture.6 My research will couple key historical, political and economical events of the Irish American immigrant experience in the 19 and 20 century with the imagery of political cartoons, film, and illustrations, in Irish-themed American children's picture books. 6 Milton Gordon, Assimilation in American Life. (New York: Oxford Press, 1964) 66-71. 3

The time period covered in this dissertation will focus image examination on Irish Catholic immigrants. While Irish immigrants claimed religious ties to both Protestant and Catholic faiths, between 1820 and 1860, 2/3rds of Irish immigrants identified with the Catholic religion.7 As reported by Timothy Meagher in his book The Columbia Guide to Irish American History, by the 1840s: The new Irish American was Catholic. Irish Protestants began melting away into the broader Protestant mainstream or, in fewer cases, vehemently distinguished themselves from the Catholic Irish, defining themselves as Scotch-Irish. The new Irish America was also embattled and militant; Irish Catholics would see themselves not just as different from Protestants but in competition with and fighting against all Protestants, Irish or otherwise.8 The review will culminate in a pictorial timeline of the Irish American persona over this past century. It is my contention that in discovering and recording the images of the Irish immigrant during this time period, four evolutionary stages will become identifiable: first, the 'Irish Immigrant,' the unskilled destitute who flooded into American cities, triggering images of the Irish as unwanted, despised, economic spoilers; next the 'Irish American,' the unskilled laborer who defiantly maintained Irish identity, customs and Catholicism in an American context; followed by the 'American Irish'—the assimilated community member five and six generations separated from his original immigrants— who identified first as an American but refused to release ties to the former Irish identity; and finally, a fabled image where everyone is 'Irish', with identifiers that focus less on reality and more on Irish whimsy and fantasy, although well leavened with Irish culture and history. 7 . 24 April 2009. 8 Timothy Meagher, The Columbia Guide to Irish American History. (New York: Columbia University Press, 2005) 56-57. 4

The first two stages will reveal and examine derogatory images that eventually dissolve and evolve by the third stage through assimilation. In the fourth stage, a more ethereal image, reinforced in children's picture books, which seduces millions to claim an Irish connection (if only for day), is unique to the Irish experience. This dissertation will compare these pictorial stages of assimilation to the sociological analysis of behavioral stages of assimilation. The framework for this comparison will be based on the studies of American sociologist Milton Gordon (1964) and his seven dimensions of assimilation. The fourth stage will be assessed for its multicultural value and authenticity. Who are the Irish Americans of 2009? As an ethnic group, have they become synonymous with green pastures, leprechauns, St. Patrick's Day parades and a pint alongside corned beef and cabbage? Most people in Ireland recognize little, if anything, Irish in this peculiar American phenomenon and they are apt to be cynical, if not hostile, towards this Irish association. It is often dismissed as 'shamrockery', or nostalgia mixed in a green haze for economic gain. In the New Hibernia Review, Patrick O'Sullivan writes, "What are we to make of the weird and worrying representations of St. Patrick's Day on television? So much alcohol, so much stupidity." 9 Or are Irish Americans a unique gathering of immigrants whose common assimilation and unswerving love of their homeland caused them to develop a new form of quasi-nationalism? Perhaps the St. Patrick's Day parade is more of a celebration of that new unity with a nostalgic tip of the hat to the 'ole' homeland. In The Irish Diaspora in the United States, Lawrence McCaffrey wrote, "When the Irish came to 9 Patrick O'Sullivan, New Hibernia Review, vol. 7.1 (2003): 130-148. 5

the United States, they brought their townland, parish, county, regional and clan loyalties with them, but their common ghetto experience and the Anglo-American Protestant hatred contributed to the creation of a larger Irish identity."10 Did the Irish immigrant only become Irish when they came to America? The construction of the Irish American identity and the influence that pictures and images played in defining, and then improving, that perception are all relatively new conversations that have evolved over the past half century. Over the past several years, I have taken a number of courses on the history of Ireland, the Diaspora to American and Canada, the assimilation of the Irish immigrant, and the changing American perception of the Irish immigrant, including acts of racism and stereotyping. Class readings, including Lawrence McCaffrey's Texture of Irish America and The Irish Diaspora to the America, Noel Ignatiev's How the Irish Became White, Maureen Denzel's Erin's Daughters and Irish America: Coming into Clover-The Evolution of a People and Culture and Christine Kinealy's A Death Dealing Famine-A Great Hunger in Ireland, will provide the historical foundation for this pictorial analysis and review. The importance of caricature in projecting and swaying public opinion about the Irish is clearly presented in L. Perry Curtis' book Apes and Angel-The Irishman in Victorian Caricature, John and Selma Appel's Pat-Riots to Patriots - American Irish In Caricature and Comic Art, and the importance of imagery is presented in William Griffin's Portrait of the Irish in America and Oscar Handlin's A Pictorial History of Immigration. Additionally, both imagery and caricature are thoughtfully touched upon in Christine Kinealy's, A Death-Dealing Famine-The Great Hunger in Ireland. 10 Lawrence McCaffrey, Irish Diaspora in America. (Washington, D.C.: The Catholic University of America Press, 1984) 115. 6

Similarly, this thesis will build upon the foundation gained in graduate studies of children's literature. A timeline of the development and transformation of children's literature from the dismissive categorization of 'kiddie lit' to weighty acknowledgement through the introduction of a children's' literature section in the New York Times Book Review emphasizes the new importance and value placed on the stories for our youngest reader. Research books will include Beverly Clark's Kiddie Lit, Ellen Spitz's Inside Picture Books, and Temple & Martinez's Children's Books in Children's Hands. This section will touch upon multicultural education focusing on the current conversations on prejudice and stereotyping. Text for this section will include books such as Dana Fox's & Kathy Short's Stories Matter-The Complexity of Cultural Authenticity in Children's Literature and Walter Stephan's Reducing Prejudice and Stereotyping in Schools as well as online articles that focus on multiculturalism, many published by New Horizons for Learning, a leading-edge resource for educational change. Additional critical articles and commentaries will be identified and researched including a review and reading of relevant dissertations and master's thesis on this topic. Currently four dissertations have been identified: Paddy and the Republic, Popular Images of the American Irish, 1820-1860, Northwestern University, 1976, by Dale T. Knobel; Ireland, New York and the Irish Image in American Popular Culture, 1890- 1960, New York University, 1989, by Marion R. Casey; Spot the Hyphen? Representation of Immigrants and Members of Ethnic Groups in Illustrated Newspaper and Magazine Stories, 1880-1925, University of Maryland, College Park, 1999, by Barbara Orbach Natanson; and Telling Bridget's Tale of Hunger: Children's Literature of the Great Irish Famine, 2003, by Drew University's own Karen Hill McNamara. 7

Another informational source was a Master of Arts Thesis, Images of the Irish in the New and Old World: Before and After the Great Famine, University of Missouri, Kansas City, 2002, by Anne L. Broderick. These scholarly publications reviewed various aspects of pictorial and verbal imagery of the Irish American in specific historical time periods adding greatly to the information base from which this dissertation began and then expanded. The key pictorial research component of this dissertation will come from the detailed review of prints, many from wood carvings and canvas paintings that provided printed images of significant events for the Irish American. Prior to 1870, wood carvings were necessary to mass produce images in newspapers. These carvings were created through the cooperative work of several artisans. First, an artist would sketch a scene or image in reverse on a block of wood sized approximately 4x5 inches and then this drawing would be turned over to an expert engraver who often took ten to twelve hours to carve out the picture. Multiple scenes would take days to ready.11 By 1870, zincographs appeared; a process that allowed artists to draw on zinc plates that were then press-ready for newspaper production. By the 1880s, photography became the recognized medium that allowed for cost effective, fast, image reproduction. The stereotypical images to be reviewed are found in printed media—primarily period newspapers and magazines—that employed political cartoons as a means of visual commentary on the Irish. The impact of these political cartoons could be far reaching. William M. "Boss" Tweed, a constant target in political cartoons by Thomas Nast, once 11 Thomas Nast St. Hill, Thomas Nast Cartoons and Illustrations. (New York: Dover Publications, 1974) 1- 3. 12 Donald Dewey, The Art of 111 Will-The Story of American Political Cartoons. (New York: New York University Press, 2007) 20-21. 8

offered the artist $1000 to stop sketching him. Tweed reportedly commented to his cohorts, "Stop those damn pictures. I don't care so much what the papers write about me. 1 T My constituents can't read. But, damn it, they can see pictures." These publications include Harper's Magazine, Harper's Weekly, Frank Leslie's Illustrated News, Puck Magazine, and Judge Magazine, among others. In 1825, the four Harper Brothers founded a small printing business in New York City. Mirroring successes in England, the brothers began two publications, a magazine, Harper's Monthly, in 1850, and then a weekly newspaper, Harper's Weekly in 1857. In 1853, publisher and illustrator, Frank Leslie followed suit by publishing a Tuesday weekly known as the Frank Leslie's Illustrated Newspaper. By 1860, Harper's Weekly had reached a circulation rate of 200,000 while the Illustrated Newspaper was reaching another 67,000. In 1876, a new competitor entered, Puck Magazine. Puck was the creation of Joseph Keppler, a cartoonist for Frank Leslie's Illustrated Newspaper. This magazine initially came out as a German language weekly but in 1877 an English version also appeared. Puck was modeled after England's satirical Punch Magazine (a magazine notoriously anti-Irish).14 By 1880, Puck's circulation had hit 80,000 copies per week. Finally, in 1881, illustrator John Ames Mitchell created Judge Magazine, which he then followed with Life Magazine in 1883, both also focusing on satirical humor and political cartoons. 13 Stephen Hess and Sandy Northrop, Drawn & Quartered. The History of Political Cartoons. (Montgomery: Elliott & Clark, 1996) 8. 14 Discussions with Dr. William B. Rogers, Associate Dean, Caspersen School of Graduate Studies, Drew University, 23 April 2009. 9

These new six printed publications, known as the American Humor Magazines, initially dominated the media. The economic realities of media production forced publishers to find ways to increase patron interest and consequently circulation. Political cartoons were very popular with the public; they added spice to written commentary and could also be enjoyed by those with minimal reading skills. Political cartoonists were highly prized members of the publishing teams and their names became synonymous and often more recognizable than the publication they were employed by. These humor magazines engaged in constant raiding of one another for these prized staff members.16 Leading cartoonists of this period included Thomas Nast, first with Leslie's Illustrated Newspaper and then with Harper's Weekly; Joseph Keppler, initially with Leslie's Illustrated Newspaper and then starting his own publication, Puck; and Frederick Burr Opper, first with Leslie's Illustrated Newspaper and then with Puck; and Frank Beard with Judge. By 1895, comics or connected multi-panel stories revealing simple messages were introduced in newspapers and they were instantly popular with the readership. Newspaper editors urged their editorial cartoon artists to embrace this new artistic form. As a result, the harsh stereotypic image of the Irish immigrant slowly gave way to more endearing cartoon images and folksy stories with a "prevailing feeling of kids winking at any and all adult exertions."17 As example, in 1896, cartoonist Richard Outcault 15 Maurice Horn, ed. The World Encyclopedia of Cartoons. (New York: Chelsea House Publishers, 1980) 27-29. 16 Dewey 1-10. 17 Ibid. 39. 10

introduced his colored Sunday panel 'Hogan's Alley' which featured a toothless, hairless Irish boy in a yellow nightshirt—the 'Yellow Kid'. The 'Yellow Kid' shared his epiphanies of day to day life as a street urchin in the back streets of New York City. Legal entanglements after a 'raiding' attempt, allowed the strip to appear simultaneously in two leading newspapers, The World and The Journal, and popularity for 'Hogan's Alley' soared. The success of this comic strip was followed by another, 'Bringing Up Father' which depicted day to day antics and dreams of Irish immigrants Maggie and Jiggs and their thoroughly Americanized daughter, Nora. This dissertation will also review and discuss a wide variety of films and photographs that demonstrate a purposeful shifting and improvement of image of the American Irish. Early silent films focused on Paddy like characters or 'stage Irishmen', but presented these actors in silly humorous situations that allowed the viewer to good naturedly laugh at the misadventures. In 1901, everyone's favorite Irish immigrant, the 'Yellow Kid' got his own starring role in a series of slap stick comedy short films. By 1910, the film industry had addressed and softened several stereotypic images and associations. The politically-oriented Catholic Church and its savvy local priests were being transformed by Bing Crosby as Father Chuck O'Malley in Going My Way (1944), hard drinking criminals are made vulnerable by James Cagney in The Public Enemy (1931), and street fighters could succeed professionally and become God- fearing, family men as demonstrated by Russell Crowe in Cinderella Man (2005). In addition, a collection of approximately 25-30 contemporary children's picture books written in America and focusing on Irish themes have been selected for review. 11

These books will be used as a type of crystal ball to suggest how future adults may perceive the Irish American identity. Each book will be read carefully with close attention being paid to the Irish dimension of the story, including stereotyping of characters, landscape and Irish fantasy. In reviewing the kaleidoscope of images presented in these various formats, several questions will be asked. What attribute is being suggested by this image? Are the illustrations an accurate portrayal of behavior associated with Irish Americans? Do the images presented connect to political or historical events of that time period? What emotional associations are evoked by the images? What impressions are left? What reactions may be elicited by this image? What story is told by these images of the Irish assimilation in America? The final analysis will present a pictorial timeline of Irish American images categorizing the identity evolution into four phases; the Irish immigrant, the Irish American, the American Irish and the Irish image of tomorrow. The first three phases will be compared to identified phases of assimilation. The fourth phase, the Irish of tomorrow, will be found in contemporary children's picture books as they will play a foundational role in suggesting the Irish American image of the future. In this Introduction, I have set out the challenge of my dissertation to consider aspects and images of Irish immigrants in America from 1850 to current day children's' books, as available in 2007. My hypothesis is that while stages of assimilation are generally measured by social behavior, pictorial images can also be employed as measurable milestones. A review of these images in both a historical and contemporary 12

context will show that negative stereotyping can be recast and prejudicial attitudes softened as interpersonal connections develop. In this study, I will contend that through images, three separate assimilation stages of the Irish immigrant can be identified: Irish immigrants; Irish American; and American Irish. Initial Irish immigrant images mirrored the public's fear of the massive influx of immigrants that threatened their well being. By the late 1880s - 1890s, the images of Irish Americans evolved concurrent with social and political events that acknowledged early stages of assimilation. In the 20th century, cartoons and films helped to recast the public's image of the Irish, but complete assimilation did not occur as the American Irish continued to steadfastly retain an Irish connection. Instead of blending inconspicuously into the melting pot, the Irish turned the liquid green. By tracing these images as presented in the various mediums of wood carvings and drawings, political cartoons, film photographs, and children's picture books, I will be able to offer a pictorial measurement of this assimilation. In Chapter Two, I will present in some detail a historic review of the Irish American image, beginning with the wood engravings of desperate humans fleeing starvation and political tyranny to political cartoons of apelike creatures as they settle in America. In Chapter Three, this historic review will continue, as Irish Americans become more vested in the American culture evolving from uncouth 'Paddys and Bridgets' to images of respectable policemen, secretaries, laborers, Civil War soldiers and union organizers. Irish American social and political gains are mirrored in improved artistic depictions. In Chapter Four, I will present a review of images in popular cartoon strips, such as 'Happy Hooligan' and 'Bringing Up Father,' and in film beginning with the silent movies 13

of the late 1800s to early 1920s, to the romantic images of John Wayne and Maureen O'Hara, the endearing parish priest, Bing Crosby as Father Jerry, and modern day Irish fighter, Jimmy Braddock, in Cinderella Man. I will examine these American Irish images and the messages they suggest to see if the process of assimilation appears to be underway. In Chapter Five, I will consider how the American Irish culture is represented in contemporary children's picture book imagery. I will review my primary research on Irish themed children's picture books from America, focusing on three areas. First, aspects of the story will be analyzed, including overall story theme, the presentation of Irish characters, beliefs, custom and language as well as historical context or settings. Second, the pictures or illustrations accompanying the story will be examined, including artistic presentation, pictorial symbols unique to the Irish, and colors chosen to set the illustrative tone. Third, a review of the background of the author and illustrator will be examined for an Irish connection. Finally, I will suggest that reviewing images of the Irish and Irish Americans in American children's picture books provides us with a glimpse of the visual associations that will be preset in the minds of our youngest readers. This foundational framework will become a filter that these children will subconsciously employ as they experience and judge social and historical interactions related to Ireland, the Irish, and Irish Americans. In my final section, Chapter Six, I will examine the short lull of Irish images of the mid-1900s and then focus on the revival of interest in ancestral history and what these current images suggest of the assimilation of the Irish in America. My conclusion will present a brief summary of several sociological theories of assimilation tracing early 14

concepts of the 'melting pot' as described by Hector St. Jean de Crevecoeur, to the four stages of assimilation identified by Robert Parks, and concluding with a description of Milton Gordon's seven stage measurement grid. I will employ Gordon's assessment tool in my analysis of the various images presented in this dissertation, noting points of image transition, acculturation and assimilation. Based on this measurement, a determination / will be provided on the completion of various assimilation stages. I will then examine the value and authenticity of the images and stories of Ireland, the Irish and Irish Americans as presented in current children's picture books by employing Jennifer J. Higgins educational assessment tool for multicultural children's literature. My conclusion will summarize the validity of employing historical and contemporary images as acceptable identifiers of social and cultural assimilation. 15

Chapter II The Transformation of the Irish American *.-' - •"-"' '-'.-^ "-*•»•-;? ^S^^l?~'\^^\.'.~^<' From Irish Emigrant, 185518 -Figure 1 The Irish Emigrant is portrayed in an 1855 British pamphlet as a bare footed hoy, certainly impoverished, but strong and healthy, able to care for himself in America and ready to make his fortune in his new home. 19 To Irish Changeling, 1883iy -Figure 2 In contrast is W. A. Rogers's 1883 cartoon, 'On Uncle Sam's Doorstep' that portrays the Irish immigrant as an unwanted, 'enfant terrible', delivered to the doorstep of America for adoption. The ugly infant, half naked, screaming and needy, has all the earmarks of a difficult baby that will no doubt grow up to be a troublesome child and then, adult. 18Figure 1: William D. Griffin, A Portrait of the Irish in America. (New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1981)52. 19 Figure 2: W.A. Rogers, 'On Uncle Sam's Doorstep.' Harpers Weekly, 23 June 1883. 16

These dramatically different images bring to mind European folk tales of the changeling as the Irish emigrant transforms almost overnight from a desirable addition to the American melting pot to an unmanageable subhuman, not worthy of assimilation. Tracing the images of the Irish American from the 1850s through today provides one with a pictorial history of the Irish American struggle to first simply survive in America and then to achieve economic, social and political status. Early images from 1850 present Irish emigrants as perhaps impoverished but otherwise healthy individuals who would be able to work hard and succeed in America. These images changed from the 1860s through the early 1890s, as newspapers and magazines reflected the prevailing negative American perspective of the Irish immigrant through harsh illustrations and cartoons of drunken Paddys, brawling Micks, haughty yet unsophisticated Bridgets, and Tammany Hall crooks. By the end of the 19l century, the negative image had begun to fade as the second and third generation were born and educated in America. The Irish American community rose economically and socially. Images of the fighting Mick turned into images of protectors such as the Fighting 69th—an entirely Irish regiment from New York in the Civil War—, local policemen, and firemen. In the early decades of the 20th century, the Irish American gained additional respect through the Arts—film, music and dance—as this media form offered a more endearing image that acknowledged human shortcomings but rebrands the Irish American as genial, self-effacing, and talented. Today, contemporary Irish American children's picture books are nearly void of early stereotypes and negative images and instead celebrate Irish Americans, their customs, beliefs and heritage. 17

Full document contains 328 pages
Abstract: This dissertation focuses on images of Irish Americans as presented in various wood carvings, paintings, political cartoons, comics, film and contemporary children's picture books from 1850 through 2007. My hypothesis tests the validity of employing historical and contemporary images as acceptable identifiers of social and cultural assimilation. My research couples key historical, political and economic events of the Irish American experience with the imagery collected. My analysis compares these images to sociological theories of assimilation and multicultural measures of authenticity. My final assessment employs assimilation measurements and categorizes these images into four evolutionary stages- the Irish immigrant, the Irish American, the American Irish and the Irish of tomorrow. While images from this dissertation suggest assimilation in areas of cultural and social acculturation and civic engagement other areas of identification and behavioral/attitudinal reception show only partial assimilation. As example, American Irish have not only been able to maintain and strengthen many of their early Irish organizations and customs but they have enticed many non Irish to join in their cultural activities. As the Irish immigrant assimilated into Anglo conformity, available images reveal an American mosaic with a decidedly green tint.