THE NEW York Times has found that there was widespread prejudice against Irish emigrants in the US in the nineteenth century.
The newspaper found that job discrimination led to restrictions on what Irish emigrants could apply for – with many advertisements appearing in its classifieds section explicitly stating “No Irish need apply”.
One particular job advertisement, from November 10, 1855, advertised a position for “a young girl, 14 or 15 years old, either American or German, to take care of a young child. No Irish need apply.”
Different variations of the phrase were commonplace in The New York Times in the mid-nineteenth century.
“No Irish need apply” appeared in 29 advertisements run by the paper, while “Irish need not apply” turned up seven times.
Other examples include “No Irishmen need apply” and “Irishmen need not apply”, while other classifieds simply said “No Irish”.
While not explicitly excluding applicants from Ireland, there were also hundreds of advertisements seeking Protestant employees – which was effectively eliminating the possibility of an Irish Catholic applying.
The classifieds all come from the mid-1800s, when hundreds of thousands of Irish emigrants fled the harsh conditions of the Great Famine for a better life in America.
Anti-Irish and anti-Catholic sentiment was widespread among the white Angle-Saxon Protestant (WASP) upper class community in the US at the time.
The archive evidence seems to disprove a controversial paper by historian Professor Richard Jensen, who published No Irish Need Apply: A Myth of Victimisation in 2002.
"The overwhelming evidence is that such signs never existed," Prof Jensen wrote of the "No Irish need apply" adverts.