The most frequently searched topic that brings visitors to The Irish in America is emigrant letters, those rich and rare sources of historical and genealogical information. Over the next week I will explore some internet resources available to those interested in the often elusive emigrant letter.
The Historical Society of Pennsylvania is home to the Curtis Family Collection. The Curtis family emigrated to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania from Mountmellick, Queen’s County in waves, from the mid-1830s to the mid-1840s. The collection includes letters from Ireland to Philadelphia, as well as from Philadelphia to Ireland. Click here to read theses fascinating letters. This link will take you to the Historical Society of Pennsylvania’s website and a listing of the letters – once there simply click on the links to open each letter.
Also included in the Curtis Family Collection are several historical documents, including a membership certification to the Saint Patrick’s Beneficial Society of Philadelphia and citizenship papers. Click here to view all items.
The Historical Society of Pennsylvania has a few other items related to Irish emigration on their website. The words to eight immigrant ballads are posted, as well as examples of missing emigrant listings found in the Catholic Herald newspaper.
These resources were put together for an education course on ethnic history and settlement of Pennsylvania. It is an excellent way of teaching this topic using primary sources preserved in their archive. The collection provides tremendous insight into the lives of Famine-era emigrants to the United States. Many thanks to the Historical Society of Pennsylvania!
Check out this great book by Kerby Miller and Patricia Mulholland Miller titled Journey of Hope: The Story of Irish Immigration to America. The book utilizes emigrant letters to tell the story of Irish immigrants and includes many photographs. It is an “interactive book” containing copies of handwritten letters and other reproduced ephemera central to the immigration journey.