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Author: John T. Ridge

Publication Year: 2000

Journal Volume: 14

Article Reference: NYIHR-V14-05

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Employment for Women and the Irish Immigrant Girls Home

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Ireland, to make a journey of over four 1879 in Ireland marked the thousand five hundred miles alone. The NATIONAL LINE. LEarNer EVERY SATURDAY beginning of agricultural distress. A child said her mother was dead and her NEW YORK, QUEENSTOWN 2 LIVERPOOL,Ind EVERY WEDNESDAY, be NEW YORK AND LONDON, Direct. crop failure reminiscent of the time father deserted her and went to England T 1 of the Great Hunger brought near starvation tofour years ago. A month ago Rosie's cousin i+ many districts in Ireland. It seemed that within Marshall, Michigan, sent her tickets for el the Mining 1 .. NATIONAL LINE InC *LIVERPOOL LINE.*" LONDON LINE. each passing week the conflict between tenant passage to that place, and bound thence untI and landlord became all the more bitter. the brave little girl arrived in this city Mass to, poiseS, Newspapers on both sides of the Atlantic were with forty cents in her pocket. The Castle TE ar filled with news of rural demonstrations, acts of Garden authorities provided her with STEER RiAL MaN TOE S violence and the hint of revolution. For the bread and ham to eat on the train going roll. InTo 2 OT RoUTE E period between 1879 and October 1882 alone, westward and Rosie seems to be quite : Popes o EPTHE ANOVE RATES ARE SEGO COM • THAN MOST 10,677 families or 53,723 persons were evicted favorably impressed with the institutions EST U from Irish farm holdings.' of the country.' V. L MIEIUETEL.A o The p :///w..renoladlointmladese cha a Coals, tal Emigration reached almost fever pitch as In 1855, Castle Garden (formerly Castle young people, including many girls and women, Clinton), an old circular stone structure at New tried by any means to leave Ireland. In May, York's Battery, became the immigrant landing- 1882, the New York Irish American newspaper place for the port of New York. Run by the State published the following statement concerning Commission of Emigration, Castle Garden female emigrants: received 2,541,148 Irish immigrants up to its Illustration: In That a vast emigration of the class closure in May, 1890 and its replacement by a 1882, the National most exposed to those perils may be expectfederal facility at Ellis Island. The State Line was one of five steamship companies ed to take place from Ireland during the Emigration Commission in 1882 was racked by that brought immi-Summer that is now settling in, would be internal dissension, almost bankrupt, and on the grants from Ireland natural, from circumstances of the counverge of being forced to shut down Castle to New York. try; that it will take place is shown by the Garden. Moreover, a Senate committee investi-Courtesy of John Ridge. fact, stated in a published letter from Mr. gating its operations uncovered evidence of Vere Foster, that, on the mere announceinflated prices for the food sold to immigrants John Ridge is a former ment of his scheme of "assisted emigration" and a baggage handling business with high prices president of the New York for females he had, up to the 13th of April and big profits for its franchise owner. Scandal Irish History Roundtable "received upwards of twenty thousand and inefficiency meant that immigrants frequentwho currently is its vice president for local history. applications on behalf of girls from the ly failed to receive the help they needed.* He is the author of West of Ireland alone. numerous books and arti-The desperate conditions in Ireland resulted IRISH WOMEN AND THE LABOR BUREAU AT cles on the history of the Irish in New York, in extraordinary instances of very young girls CASTLE GARDEN including The Flatbush traveling from Ireland to America alone: One of the successes, however, of Castle Garden Irish; Sligo in New York; A red checked, blue-eyed little girl sat was the Labor Bureau, an office in the complex The St. Patrick's Day Parade in New' York and in Castle Garden on Monday and where young arrivals in need of a first job were Erin's Sons in Americamunched on a large sandwich while her matched with employers. In 1881 only 9% of the The Ancient Order of eyes kept guard upon a queer looking caremigrants leaving Ireland were over age thirty-five.5 Hibernians. pet-bag on the floor beside her. It was While only a minority of all the immigrant Rosie McEnnery, eight years of age, who arrivals coming to New York used the Labor ©2000. Published with the permission of John T. Ridge. set out from her home in County Cavan, Bureau, Irish and German immigrants were espe-Vol.14, 2000 PAGE 48 NEw YORK 1R15H HISTORY Month Wage cially likely to use its services. In 1877 10,314 individuals found jobs and of these the vast January $8.00 majority 9,817 or 95% were either German or February 8.00 Irish. The Irish alone accounted for 6,742 or March 10.00 65% of the total employed. Of the 5,362 males April 10.00 In sharp the Germans were better represented and num-May 10.50 bered 2,936 or 55% of the total while the Irish June 10.50 numbered 2,067 and composed 39%.6 10.50 July contrast Significantly different were the numbers for 10.00 August the female immigrants who found jobs at the September 10.00 Labor Bureau. In sharp contrast to the male October 9.00 to the male employment statistics, practically all the females November 8.00 who found jobs at Castle Garden were Irish. December 8.00 Only small portion of the non-Irish immigrant There was only one male occupation, farm employment females found employment through the Labor laborer, which similarly paid a on a monthly Bureau. Of the 4,952 women for which work basis."1 was secured, 4,675 were from Ireland and constituted 94% of the total. About 71% of all the PRIVATE CHARITIES AND THE ARRIVING statistics, female immigrants found work located in the IMMIGRANTS State of New York while New Jersey jobs at 25% Private charitable institutions established by the of the total accounted for most of the remainder.? New York Irish community were not adequate practically Whereas there were forty-two occupations in to the task of easing the burden of arriving which employment was found for men, there was immigrants. The best-known society, the Irish only one employment domestic service as Emigrant Society, used the money earned from all the females housekeepers, maids, cooks or the like which its large remittance transmittal business to was offered to women by the Labor Bureau.* Ireland to aid immigrants.

A Labor Bureau report for 1882 stated that Previous to 1865 the Irish Emigrant Society who found the average salary for women who obtained jobs had disbursed its charitable donations on an indithrough their offices ranged from $8 to $10 a vidual basis. But in that year it was decided that month. The average pay for a male laborer was it would be more effective if the disbursements jobs at $1.00 to $1.50 day, while those who were were made to charitable institutions instead. One employed on a monthly basis had salaries that of these recipients, the Institution of Mercy, ranged between $7 and $15 month.? Houston Street, received $22, 450 between 1865 Castle Garden Although the Irish portion of the immigrant and the close of 1881 for the "protection and care arrivals in New York continued to drop almost bestowed on poor Irish girls.' The House of the invariably with each succeeding year in the 1880s Good Shepherd received $20,000 for "the prowere Irish. and succeeding years, the Irish continued to get a tection afforded young Irish girls and care large number of the jobs arranged by the Castle bestowed on the unfortunate of our race.' These Garden Labor Bureau. During the year 1881 two donations, plus the $7,083 sent to maintain places were found for 19,494 Irish out of the the Labor Bureau at Castle Garden, seem to have 49,745 immigrants of both sexes who gained been the extent of the donations that had some employment through the Bureau. The Irish comdirect effect in helping young immigrant girls. prised only 39% of the totaldrop of 26% The remaining expenditures of the Irish from 1877. Employment for women immigrants, Emigrant Society were distributed to a variety of however, continued to be dominated by the Irish. institutions caring for the poor, orphans, elderly And Irish women secured 8,363 (80%) of or sick. Additional donations were made for eduthe 10,462 places. Again, it was in domestic servcation and for "famine" relief in Ireland. The ice that women found jobs and at average wages total amount donated for all charities by the Irish which fluctuated according to the time of the Emigrant Society for the sixteen-year period was year:l° $144,433.12 Vol.14, 2000 NEW YORK 1R15H HISTORY PAGE 49 A typical criticism of the Irish Emigrant direction ofa Catholic priest because he would Society came in April, 1882 from the Irish be more effective as a representative of Ireland's American: most influential Christian denomination.

We must state again, as we did some-She boldly issued a challenge: STEAMSHIPS. time ago, that we have no fault with the The scandals daily being revealed in useful exchange business which the Societyconnection with Castle Garden are White Star Line carries on, or the very charitable uses to bad enough, but worse lies outside.

UNITED STATES AND ROYAL MAIL STRANERS which it applies the profits resulting there Seeing that it is a present hopeless to get BETWEEN QUEENSTOWN, LIVERPOOL AND NEW YORK EVERY WEEK. from, but what we do say is the Society was the steamship companies to exert them-Germanie, Britannie, Adriatio.

Celtic, Baltie, Republio. never established to make money for chariselves, I have decided, if I can get others UNSURPASSED FOR SAFETY. COMFORT AND SPEED table institutions, no matter how worthy, to work with me, on going myself to STEERAGE FROM THE OLD COUNTRY, 830. and that it does notprotect the Irish emi-New York to endeavor to get on foot PROM NEW FORK, $28. And do not Carry Cattle, Sheep Pigs. grants arriving in this port in the manner some house for the protection of women.

The accommodation for Cabin and Stcerage passengers cannot t excelled.advantages, combined with th regularity of their rapid paanges intended by the good men who had it But will they put all the work on the n al weathers, have earned for these steamers i Word-wide reputation. incorporated....13 shoulders of a woman? 15 Breerage from the Old Country, $91. From New York, $28. The Irish American also reported in 1882 Charlotte O'Brien felt that the causes of Drafts payable on demand everywhere in Ireland, au reduced rates.

Correspondence Invited, Responsible persona that, when six-hundred Irish girls (the oldest, male and female emigration were different: lesiring t agents for the sale of drafts and tickets, should address, twenty-three) were landed that same week from I think political causes and lack of R. J. CORTIS, Agent, Broadway.

V. ALDRIDGE, the S.S. City of Montreal, there was no one to work and distress have much to do with 19 Court Street, Agent for Brooklyn.

JOHN' B. MORGAN, meet or help them. The paper predicted similar the male emigration. Not so with females. Broadway, Agent for Williamsburg, J. W: DONELAN, Cor. Ere and 9th St., Agent for Jersey City. situations awaited thousands more who would I believe the women come to America • LAGERGREN, General Western Agent, Chicago. soon arrive "in an extraordinary era in the historypartly because so many of their friends are JOHN J. MCCORMAC, Smithfeld SL., CUSHING & FOX, 4318 Butler St., Pittabarg, Pa. of the Irish exodus."14 here, partly because of the wages here, the JOHN COLLINS, Wayne Co. Savings Bank. greater probability of good marriage; BOURKE BROS. 900 Main 8t., Springield,: A VOICE IN IRELAND FOR FEMALE EMIGRANTS and, beyond everything else because of In Ireland there was one voice calling attention to the love of adventure.16 INMAN LINE UNITED STATES MALL STEAMERS the plight of Irish emigrants, especially female •AILING WEEKLY BETWEEN emigrants. Charlotte O'Brien was the daughter PRIME MOVERS FOR AN IMMIGRANT GIRLS eW York, Queenstown and Liverpool. of William Smith O'Brien, an Irish patriot well HOME CITY OF BERLIN. known as one of the '48ers who brought Ireland The prime mover in America for the CITY OF RICHMOND. CITY OF CHESTER.CITYCHICAGO.CITY OF PARIS. CABIN PANSAGE, $80 & $100. INTERMEDIATE, to the brink of revolution. Charlotte O'Brien wasestablishment of an Irish immigrant girls 80, SPBERAGE, $28. PREPAID, $21. Steerage Passengera are :carried o same deck ha herself a gifted writer and poetess whose contrithe cabin, and the sleeping rooms being enclosed, hon home in New York came not from New contain a limited number of bertha la, are well lighted, warmed, and thoroughly ventilated. Marbutions to the Dublin Nation made her almost as Yorkers but from the Chicago-based Irish red couples are berthed by themselves 5ingle men and women In separate rooms, + atrons in attendfamous as her father. In 1881 she had won by her Catholic Colonization Society and the ance for females and children. Ample space vided for partaking meals and ; nading.. The bill of fare Includ an abandant supply of cooked' pen and voice an improvement in shipboard conwestern Roman Catholic bishops. By provisions served out by the 4'ompany's stewarda, For passage tickets or drafts apply to ditions in steerage class on the British steamships, June, 1882, the organization had com-The Inman Steamship Company (Limited), 81 andBroadwAy, New York. but she quickly turned her attention to condimitted itself morally and financially to a E tO JORX C. HEXDERION & SON, 344 Fulton St.

Brookfyn. tions in ports like Queenstown where emigrants New York immigrant home. At a meeting L H. PALMER, $ OldHouse, Boston, G. A. FAULK, 105 South Fourth S., Philadelphia F. C. BROWN, 39 South Clark Street, Chicago, were often victims of a criminal class who cheat-of bishops of the New York Province the J. J. McCORNICE, Smithield St., Pittaburgh ed, robbed and exploited them. She established a idea was endorsed, and Bishop Ryan of lodging for emigrants in Queenstown and began Buffalo, another western colonization advoa crusade to establish similar institutions in cate, called on Cardinal McCloskey to secure his American ports. Through letters to the Chicago help. The New York Cardinal chose one of his Illustration: In Tribune and correspondence with the leaders of own clergy, Father John J. Riordan, who had 1883, ads for the the [rish Catholic Colonization Society, an been serving at St. Bernard's Church on West Inman Line promorganization dedicated to establishing farm Fourteenth Street, as the first director. Together ised women in steercolonies of Irish in the western states, she argued Bishop Ryan and Father Riordan visited Castle age separate quarters with matrons in for a home to be established for immigrants in Garden where they were at first discouraged until attendance. cities like New York. Although Protestant she they met with William Connolly of the Labor Courtesy of John felt that such an institution had to be under the Bureau who convinced them of the pressing need Ridge.

Vol.14, 2000 PAGE 50 NEW YORK 1RISH HISTORY for such a mission. Father Riordan observed: channeled. The bulk of this cooperation came I was not long at Castle Garden before from the St. Vincent de Paul Society whose it became apparent that there was a great agents in various cities like Chicago, St. Louis, work to be done. Every other day brought Omaha, Kansas City, Denver and St. Paul, its shiploads of immigrants who, after they arranged to meet the immigrant train arrivals. Up passed through the hands of the registrato May, 1884, the arriving immigrant girls were tion clerks took their places in the Labor domiciled in "respectable" boarding houses in the Bureau to wait for employment. Where vicinity of Castle Garden, but in that month a were they to go at night if an employer did temporary home was rented at 7 Broadway and a not turn up in the meanwhile? Their only "Mrs. Boyle,' formerly matron for the Labor alternative hitherto had been to go indis-Bureau, was installed to care for the guests. No criminately with the first lodging house charge was ever made, and some nights up to keeper who got possession of them. For any 160 girls were accommodated the majority for one acquainted with the life of a great city, one night, but some for three or four nights. it is unnecessary to dwell on the dangers to After a trip to Ireland to discourage "reckless" virtuous young girls and unsophisticated emigration, Father Riordan made the rounds to young men were thus exposed. It is imposthe stronger "Irish Catholic" parishes of sible to exaggerate these dangers. Many a Manhattan and preached the cause of the new young woman has been ruined for life on home. Twenty-one churches contributed $9,305 these occasions; and many a young man in a few weeks and together with parishes in has had his whole career wrecked at the Yonkers and Wilimantic, Connecticut, and a outset, by the associations and circumnumber of private donations the total reached stances among which he has there been $12,500. By December, 1885, a heavily mortthrown. Moreover the trials to be faced by gaged building at 7 State Street was purchased penniless emigrants appealed forcibly to and become the first home in America for thoucommiseration; charity had a most noble sands of future women immigrants. It was an and useful field here, I have found the instant success and lead influential individuals advancement of a railroad fare to point like Father Edward McGlynn to comment 'it is a where employment had been offered, wonder that the work was not begun before."18 enough to start many an immigrant on the road to success. The condition of immi-EMPLOYMENT-AN ALLEGORY FOR IRELAND'S grants who have had to wait weeks, as is TROUBLES? often the case, especially during the winter, Arranging employment for Irish immigrant girls before receiving an offer of employment, was viewed as not just an economic necessity, but and have spent all their little means on as a means to save the innocent from falling into their support in the meantime, was the hands of questionable characters. One exampitiable in the extreme. From what fate ple which Father Riordan cited served almost as God alone knows, have men and women an allegory for Ireland's troubles: in such a plight been rescued by the timely A single instance will be sufficient to bestowal of a night's lodging, and a meal show the nature of the work which the that at least stayed the pangs of hunger.7 Mission is accomplishing almost daily for The Mission of Our Lady of the Rosary for their protection. Two attractive Irish girls the Protection of Irish Immigrant Girls, as the arrived at Castle garden recently. I noticed home was officially known, started off slowly in the marked attentions two young the last half of 1883. Father Riordan made a trip Englishmen paid them, and upon inquirto western cities to firm up contacts with the Irish ing where they were going they replied to Catholic Colonization Society (whose annual one Philadelphia. asked where they intended thousand dollar donation was critical in those to stay the night in New York, and they early years) and to create : network of cooperatinformed me that two Englishmen were ing societies to which immigrant girls could be going to provide them with accommoda-Vol.14, 2000 NEW YORK 1R1SH HISTORY PAGE 51 tions at a hotel. My suspicions being aroused I prevailed on the girls to come to References the Home. After attending to their reli- 1 Irish Nation, December 22, 1882 gious duties in the evening, they informed 2 Irish American, May 6, 1882 me that they had deceived me at the 3 Irish American, September 30, 1882 Garden as to their destination, that they had no friends in this country, and had 4 New York Herald, May 3, 1882, Irish American, decided to go to Philadelphia with their December 16, 1882 ship acquaintances who promised to pro- 5 Irish American, April 15, 1882 vide them with situations there. I lost no time in procuring them employment in 6 Irish World, March 2, 1878 this city the next morning. Shortly after 7 Irish World, March 2, 1878 they left the home the two Englishmen called with two officers of the ship, and 8 Irish World, March 2, 1878 were most persistent in their efforts to dis- 9 Irish American, March 11, 1882 cover their address, which of course, I refused to furnish. This is sufficient to 10 Irish World, March 11, 1882 show the importance in having such a 11 Irish World, March 11, 1882 mission at Castle Garden." Father Riordan shortly before his death in 12 Irish Nation, April 8, 1882 2887 summarized the accomplishments of those 13 Irish American, April 15, 1882 first years: During the brief period which the mis- 14 Irish American, April 15, 1882 Zion has been in operation it has been the 15 Catholic Review, February 17, 1883 means of guiding thousands of immigrant 16 Irish American, November 25, 1882 girls into the employment of Christian families. Its beneficent influence has been 17 Catholic Review, December 12, 1885 felt all over the country, and is acknowl- 18 Catholic Review, May 23, 1885 edged with gratitude in the communications from every part of the nation.20 19 Irish World, February 19, 1887 20 Trish American, February 5, 1887 TP Illustration: The Irish Immigrant Girl Home at the turn of the century Photo as reproduced in centennial publication of the Church of Our Lady of the Rosary. Courtesy of John Ridge.

Vol.14, 2000