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Erin Barr

Erin Barr

Graduate Student // History

Curriculum vitae

Office and Contact

Room: SCHM 403

Office hours: Via Zoom by appointment


BA - SUNY Potsdam
MA - Illinois State University


19th Century U.S. History, Immigration, Women's History

My research focuses on nineteenth century Irish immigration to the United States. More specifically, my work examines the ways gender and politics overlap with and are a part of the immigrant experience during this period. My dissertation argues that nineteenth century Irish Americans crafted, maintained, and participated in their own political culture. This political culture had its origins in Ireland and its long history of resistance to British rule, and was transplanted and grew within the Irish American community. Once in America, the American Irish continued in their efforts to bring about a more independent Ireland. From charitable relief and constitutional reform, to stoking revolution and supporting radical Irish Nationalism, the Irish in America continued to try and influence Ireland's future. However, they did so in their own ways, and within the context of their new lives in the United States. Moreover, Irish Americans simultaneously framed their struggle against the British as a direct parallel to that of the original thirteen states in the eighteenth century in order to gain favor for both the cause and their social positions within American society. Finally, my dissertation explores the roles of women within this political culture. Contrary to previous studies, I have found that Irish American women formed their own "sister" organizations alongside those set up by Irish American men and used their positions as the arbiters of hospitality and social graces to the advantage of the broader movement. 

My previous research has also explored the experiences of Irish immigrant women. My master's thesis, "Fortune Will Favor the Brave: Irish Immigrant Women in America, 1845 - 1890," examined the lives of Irish immigrant women from their own perspectives. I relied heavily on their personal letters and diaries, and I found that Irish American women lives more complex and varied lives than previously argued. Although their lives did indeed involve hard, sometimes backbreaking work, as well as deep homesickness, that was not the entirety of their experiences. They at times reveled in the increased liberty afforded to them by American culture, including greater freedom of movement, freedom of association, and freedom to marry whomsoever they chose regardless of background or lack of dowry. Thay also look great pride in earing their own income, especially in their ability to fund the living expenses, educations, and immigration of their family members who remained in Ireland. This more nuanced narrative reveals that further exploration of the role of gender in immigration is necessary in order to fully understand the history of Irish American immigration. 

Aside from my research, I also have taught a wide variety of American and World history courses at John A. Logan Community College, Franklin College of Indiana, and Purdue University. These courses include the United States History Survey, surveys of Western Civilization and Global History, and Women's History.