Read Erin's Daughters in America: Irish Immigrant Women in the Nineteenth Century by Hasia R. Diner Free Online
Book Title: Erin's Daughters in America: Irish Immigrant Women in the Nineteenth Century|
The author of the book: Hasia R. Diner
Format files: PDF
The size of the: 724 KB
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Reader ratings: 3.6
Edition: Johns Hopkins University Press
Date of issue: November 1st 1983
ISBN 13: 9780801828720
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I got this book as background reference material for a work in progress ("My Three Granddads"), hoping it would help me better understand the relationship between my Irish-English grandparents. There's a lot of interesting observations in this book; however, the tone throughout gives the feeling that the author couldn't quite make up her mind whether it should be primarily for an academic or a mainstream audience. As a result, it lacks enough appeal to either. There aren't enough details and there are too many quotations an paraphrases that seem cherry-picked to support a previous bias. Further, there is (as with many such books) there is a distinct lack of a final summary chapter. The author notes the existing depth of research into Irish-American history but it appears as if her hesitance to make a clear distinction between academic and mainstream appeal prevented her from adequately exploring this body of research. This is perhaps a function of time (the book was published in 1983, when computer analysis of quantitative data was limited to the tech-savvy and qualitative coding schemes were mostly done by hand).
Two points can be made now in hindsight:
1. It seems likely that Irish immigrant attitudes had a lasting effect on subsequent generations, meaning that the strict gender roles and spheres of influence within Irish-American families and communities were not restricted to first-generation members. The data and quotations in the book were the result of the author combining existing sources rather than conducting her own empirical research. Ethnographic studies of second- and third-generation families would have made her assertions more powerful and less stereotypical. I could certainly see the women=home chief and men=workplace attitude in my own grandparents' home, but many families would have to be included in a study for these results to have generalizability from city to city and neighborhood to neighborhood.
2. It seems likely that the Irish immigrants were not entirely unique in their gendered attitudes, even now. Small mention is made of other immigrant groups (Italian for example) but Asian and Latino groups are largely ignored in favor of European immigrants. Including groups of Mexican, Chinese, and Japanese immigrants would have again greatly strengthened the author's argument that Irish women immigrants were unique.
I regard this as a flawed but valuable culture study at the beginning of what we now call gender studies. It needs to be updated and expanded.
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