Becoming White: Irish Immigrants in the Nineteenth Century

  • David A. Gerber
  • Alan M. Kraut


The rise of ethnic groups out of successive waves of immigration in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries has not been the only or even the major source of social differentiation and at times fragmentation in American history. An even older source is race, which has been a most significant and abiding force in the structuring of society, politics, and economics and in the forming of American self-understanding since the beginnings of European settlement in North America. In sharp contrast to the voluntary immigrations that brought millions of Europeans to these shores, Africans, Native Americans, and Mexicans were incorporated into the population by force, through enslavement and conquest. Race has also been a factor in immigration itself. In a variety of ways specific to different groups, until well into the twentieth century, American law has restricted the entrance of Africans, Asians, and other non-European peoples into the United States and has limited opportunities for citizenship among those non-white immigrants.


Democratic Party European Immigrant White Supremacy Irish Immigrant White Supremacist 
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Suggestions for Further Reading

  1. David R. Roediger, Working Toward Whiteness: How America’s Immigrants Become White, The Strange Journey from Ellis Island to the Suburbs (New York: Basic Books, 2005).Google Scholar
  2. Ian Haney Lopez, White by Law:The Legal Construction of Race (New York: New York University Press, 1996).Google Scholar
  3. Jennifer Guglielmo and Salvatore Salerno, Are Italians White?: How Race Is Made in America (New York: Routledge, 2003).Google Scholar
  4. Karen Brodkin, How the Jews Became White People and What That Says about Race in America (New York: Routledge, 1998).Google Scholar
  5. Matthew Jacobson, Whiteness of A Different Color: European Immigrants and the Alchemy of Race (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1998).Google Scholar
  6. Noel Ignatiev, How the Irish Became White (New York: Routledge, 1995).Google Scholar

Copyright information

© David A. Gerber and Alan M. Kraut 2005

Authors and Affiliations

  • David A. Gerber
  • Alan M. Kraut

There are no affiliations available

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