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Old 13 July 2015, 10:26 AM
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Default No Irish Need Apply Ads Proven to Have Existed in U.S.

New research by a high school student proves No Irish Need Apply ads did exist.

For many years, the employment ad or sign indicating "No Irish Need Apply" had been part of the historical memory of discrimination against the Irish in America. In 2002, University of Illinois Professor Richard Jensen set out to disprove their existence. As recounted by Irish Central:

Jensen claimed that because his exhaustive search for any material or archival evidence of the NINA signs yielded only one result (pictured above), they were likely a myth, a figment of the collective Irish American imagination.

“The fact that Irish vividly ‘remember,’ NINA signs is a curious historical puzzle,” he stated.

“There are no contemporary or retrospective accounts of a specific sign at a specific location. No particular business enterprise is named as a culprit. No historian, archivist, or museum curator has ever located one; no photograph or drawing exists.”

But now, in a piece for the Oxford Journal of Social History – the same journal where Jensen published his findings – Rebecca A. Fried, a a high-school student at the Sidwell Friends school in Washington, DC,” has found overwhelming evidence that the NINA signs were very real and very prevalent.

In a wonderfully written and researched rebuttal, Fried challenges Jensen’s claim that “the NINA phenomenon is an ahistorical memory to be explained by ‘delu[sional]’ group psychology and ‘the political need to be bona-fide victims’ rather than by the fact of historic discrimination.”

Instead, she writes, “the documentary record better supports the earlier view that Irish-Americans have a communal recollection of NINA advertising because NINA advertising did, in fact, exist over a substantial period of United States history, sometimes on a fairly widespread basis.”


http://www.irishcentral.com/roots/hi...r-existed.html
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  #2  
Old 13 July 2015, 01:41 PM
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Nice job, Ms. Fried.
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Old 13 July 2015, 02:14 PM
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Read the comments: they include a discussion between Jensen and Fried (nothing verifying their identities but it seems to be on the level) which is interesting. It's a very polite discussion between the two, but I must say Jensen's logic seems questionable at best.
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  #4  
Old 13 July 2015, 03:49 PM
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Sounds a lot like Jensen has his own anti-Irish bias.

Even if there weren't any "no Irish" signs, the fact that Irish immigrants were discriminated against in 19th and early 20 Century America has been well documented on a variety of levels.
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Old 13 July 2015, 05:19 PM
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I see Jenson's logic as being that because so few NINA signs and advertisements were found, there wasn't much prejudice against the Irish. Since there wasn't much prejudice against the Irish, there aren't any NINA signs. Rather circular.

There has always been prejudice against the recent immigrants whether Irish, German, Polish or Norwegian. However, the prejudice doesn't seem to continue beyond the 2nd generation which has presumably learned English and doesn't speak with an accent. It continues though with those whose foreign background is evident by their appearance such as the Japanese or Chinese.
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Old 13 July 2015, 11:28 PM
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I think that how well the immigrants mingled with the rest of the population was also a factor, as was their economic status. Irish immigrants were often quite poor.
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Old 14 July 2015, 06:35 PM
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The Irish did have some advantages over many other immigrants, in that they already spoke English and they had a working knowledge of democracy and elections, so they were able to organize somewhat more effectively. On the other hand, as with many immigrants from Southern and Eastern Europe, their Catholicism was viewed with suspicion by many in the Protestant-dominated upper classes.

But this could backfire: in the 1884 Presidential election, a spokesman for the Republican candidate made a speech decrying the Democrats as the party of "Rum, Romanism, and Rebellion," and the backlash from Irish-American voters is largely believed to have given Grover Cleveland the edge in a very close race (he won New York state by less than 1000 votes). So yep, prejudice has always been around, but even then it could sometimes blow up in your face.
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Old 14 July 2015, 10:20 PM
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Pat, in the comments you mention finding more than 6 of these ads in the Brooklyn Eagle. It wouldn't be snopes unless somebody asked--do you have cites for those?
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Old 14 July 2015, 11:40 PM
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Jenson's response in the comments is brief and worth the read although it seems to be slightly condescending.

I think part of the problem is that no one has ever claimed that discrimination didn't exist. The question is to what extent. I have posts in my social media claiming that "more Irish were enslaved than Africans!" and, on the less-wacky side (but also wrong), books have been written claiming that Irish were considered non-white, just like 'negros' or 'colored' people. Maybe Jenson went a bit too far in his characterizations but I think his point stands: Although such discrimination was relatively common in Britain and Canada, it as much less so in the US. I think this research is a good reminder that that doesn't mean it didn't exist.
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Old 15 July 2015, 12:10 AM
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The way I see what Jensen is arguing is that he is looking at the very narrow issue of whether such signs were openly displayed in shop windows as part of help wanted signs. Fried found some examples, of which Jensen disputes the provenance or relevence of all but 2. Fried also found numerous examples of newspaper ads. Jensen disputes whether to assume there were many more than she found. Fried argues that the databases are incomplete, so the ones she found are a fraction of the true number.

Jensen's argument is overly narrow to get to the conclusion he is trying to support. His conclusion is that the belief that such help wanted signs were once prevalent is a myth created by an Irish song. But even if he's right that such signs were rare, the newspaper ads are another possible source of the belief, and they would back up the underlying point, which is that Irish immigrants were openly discriminated against in employment. So even if he's right about actual posted signs being rare, that still doesn't back up his theories or conclusions.

On the other hand, Fried didn't really prove that the posted signs were common. She makes, I think, a fairly convincing case that they might have been at least somewhat common, because the sentiment was expressed openly in classified ads, and signs are much much less likely to have been preserved. She also makes the point above--that actual ads (whether signs or classified ads) containing the NINA phrase are more likely to be the source of the belief than a popular song.
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Old 15 July 2015, 12:40 AM
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I don’t think Jensen was ever suggesting that the idea was invented by the song. The point is that the signs were more prevalent elsewhere (which he has never denied) and that the inspiration for the song could have from those areas. This research suggests it may have been more plausible than Jensen thought but it doesn’t show that it’s more likely.

Jensen’s point was that the collective memory of the ads (especially generations after they became very uncommon) may have been from the song rather than actual ads, which we know for a fact has happened in many UL cases.
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Old 15 July 2015, 03:41 AM
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I meant the belief that they were common here in the US. And Fried's work shows that the collective memory could also have been influenced by actual signs and classified ads.
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  #13  
Old 16 July 2015, 07:31 AM
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Read This! I knew this looked familiar!

Here's an earlier thread about the subject.
Quote:
Originally Posted by thorny locust View Post
Nice job, Ms. Fried.
Ditto!

Brian
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Old 16 July 2015, 12:32 PM
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Interesting thread, BrianB.

I find it very odd that there was a discussion about whether such language was only used for women's jobs, with a fairly strong implication in the discussion that it only mattered if the ads/signs were for men's jobs; and nobody in the thread at the time seemed to object that even if it was true that the ads were aimed at women, that shouldn't make them less important or less justifiably memorable than if they were aimed at men.
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Old 17 July 2015, 11:13 PM
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That discussion was based on something in Jensen's paper, not some argument that prejudice against women is okay.

At any rate, Jensen's initial claim was that there were some ads in the US that used No Irish Need Apply, but that memories of signs that said that are a myth created by a song. Fried found evidence of one such sign (which is impressive research) but the article makes it sound as though Jensen denied that there were ever any ads in papers that included that disclaimer.
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Old 17 July 2015, 11:24 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by crocoduck_hunter View Post
I think that how well the immigrants mingled with the rest of the population was also a factor, as was their economic status. Irish immigrants were often quite poor.
Worse* yet, they were often quite Catholic, which may have been considered a barrier to mingling with WASP society.

*From the perspective of an anti-Catholic bigot.
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Old 18 July 2015, 07:45 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ASL View Post
Worse* yet, they were often quite Catholic, which may have been considered a barrier to mingling with WASP society.

*From the perspective of an anti-Catholic bigot.
That is an aspect of US history that I am always flabbergasted that so many people don't know, or choose to ignore. If the US is a "Christian" nation then the founding fathers were damn well aware that the greatest threat to a Christian practicing their religion as they see fit wasn't Muslim or Jews or Buddhists or ... (gasp) Atheists it was other Christians. The separation of church and state was, on a practical level, really to keep one Christian sect from telling another Christian sect how to practice Christianity. The Irish Catholics were of course Christians who were (in part) immigrating to escape persecution by other Christians. In the US they were then often discriminated against by other Christians. The same for the Quakers and a dozen other Christian sects.

So if you are a Christian in the US the last thing you want is the gov't protecting Christianity since chances are the Christianity being protected won't be your version.

Last edited by jimmy101_again; 18 July 2015 at 07:47 PM. Reason: added 2nd paragraph
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Old 19 July 2015, 12:51 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jimmy101_again View Post
if you are a Christian in the US the last thing you want is the gov't protecting Christianity since chances are the Christianity being protected won't be your version.
If you are a religious person anywhere in the world the last thing you want is the government protecting any specific religion because religions schism -- so even if it's your specific religion at the moment, sooner or later, chances are that it won't be.



(Well, I suppose it's not quite the last thing you want. The minute I or somebody else says something like that, I always start thinking of things that would be worse. Nevertheless the overall sense of the statement holds.)
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Old 21 July 2015, 06:01 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jimmy101_again View Post
...the greatest threat to a Christian practicing their religion as they see fit ...was other Christians.
To provide another perspective, I've met many an Evangelical who fervently believes that Roman Catholics are not Christian. In some Baptist groups (and likely others, but I am aware of the Baptists), RC people are pseudo-Christian and can lead people astray, thus they need to be converted.
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  #20  
Old 21 July 2015, 06:17 AM
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I've met a few Evangelicals who think that Roman Catholics are atheists.

Granted, their definition of atheist appeared to be "anyone who isn't an Evangelical."
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