Creating “Bridget”: An analysis of the Irish immigrant woman’s identity in New York’s Gilded Age

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In the second half of the 19th century, the population of New York City boomed as immigrants poured in from the west of Ireland, southern and eastern Europe, and Asian nations. Among the Irish immigrants, particularly in the years between 1830 and 1910, there was a large percentage of young women from Gaeltacht (Irish-speaking) regions fleeing famine or seeking additional economic opportunity. Single young women in New York could develop new careers in domestic or factory work, and in the City’s constantly evolving population, personal conceptions of identity could be challenged and changed. In this dissertation, I analyze the contrasted social and cultural environments of the Irish homeland and North American domestic service life, through representations of young Irish women in music and other forms of media consumed in both work and leisure time.

Irish, Irish-American, Women, Gilded Age, Music, Theatre, Dance, Dance Hall Culture, Bridget, Cailin, Immigrant, Identity, Sheet Music