Bridgit's Iowa : the immigrant experience for Irish women in the hawkeye state, 1840-1900.
Burke- Smith, Bridgit.
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This thesis will study the importance of labor in the experience of Irish female immigrants in the nineteenth century. It will explore the effects of Irish women having the opportunity in America to earn wages and contribute to their household, a role almost nonexistent in post-famine Ireland. It will also heavily focus on domestic labor, examining how women were expected to do non-paid work in the United States regardless of their other duties. It will be argued that while women had the opportunity to earn a degree of economic independence in the United States, economic independence did not allow them to escape from imposed patriarchal assumptions about women’s traditional duties. The thesis will also look at Irish "whiteness" and argue that the labor of Irish women in America in paid domestic service was influential in the Irish climbing the ladder of American social success, a factor still often ignored by dominant historiographical discourse. The state of Iowa will provide a reference point for research, for Iowa’s rich Irish and labor history make it a prime context to study the immigrant experience of Irish women.
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