During the mid 19th century, large numbers of Irish citizens made the perilous journey to America with the the hopes of escaping poverty, famine, and oppression. As thousands of immigrants made Philadelphia their home, they were met with religious and ethnic prejudices. Moderated by Charlene Mires, professor of History at Rutgers-Camden, this panel of experts examines the challenges and issues faced by the Irish as they struggled to integrate into American society. The discussion will be followed by a short concert of traditional Irish music by John McGroary, Michael Boyce, and John Boyce of Blackthorn, and a reception courtesy of Paddy Rooney's pub.
Dr. William Watson is a professor of History at Immaculata University and Director of the Duffy's Cut Project. He's the author of numerous articles and worked on several books including: The Irish-Americans: The History and Culture of a People (forthcoming, ABC-Clio, November, 2014), The Ghosts of Duffy's Cut (Praeger, 2006), Tricolor and Crescent: France and the Islamic World, and The Collapse of Communism in the Soviet Union (Greenwood, 1998).
Zachary Schrag is a professor of history at George Mason University and the author of two books, The Great Society Subway: A History of the Washington Metro and Ethical Imperialism: Institutional Review Boards and the Social Sciences, 1965-2009, both published by the Johns Hopkins University Press. He is currently working on a narrative history of the Philadelphia riots of 1844.
Michael Johnson graduated summa cum laude from the University of Notre Dame in 2012 with a degree in History, United States concentration. While at Notre Dame he was a member of Phi Alpha Theta, the history national honor society, Phi Beta Kappa, a national academic honor society, and also served as a Gilder Lehrman History Scholar. His honors thesis “‘Be Patriots Because You Have a Country’: The Fenian Brotherhood and Irish-American Identity in Civil War-Era Philadelphia” received the University’s O’Hagan Award for best essay on Irish history. He is presently pursuing a Master’s Degree in History, United States concentration at Villanova University. His interests include nineteenth century United States History and the Civil War era, particularly questions of race, ethnicity, and identity. He is currently working with Dr. Judith Giesberg and two fellow students on a study of the Institute for Colored Youth, an elite school for African American children in nineteenth century Philadelphia.
James Kopaczewski graduated from St. Joseph’s University in 2013 with a B.A. in History and International Relations. While at St. Joseph’s, Jim was a member of Phi Alpha Theta and served as a Summer Scholar where he researched Irish immigration to the United States in the early 19th century. Following graduation, he switched sides in the Holy War and made the short move up Lancaster Avenue to Villanova. At Villanova, he is a second year M.A. student whose concentration is in United States History with an emphasis on the Civil War Era. He is also interested in the Union home front in the Civil War, masculinity in the 19th century, and Irish-American studies.
Charlene Mires is the Director of the Mid-Atlantic Regional Center for the Humanities and Professor of History at Rutgers-Camden, where she teaches courses in public, urban, and U.S. history. She is the author of Independence Hall in American Memory (University of Pennsylvania Press, 2002), which received the Philadelphia Athenaeum Literary Award; Capital of the World: The Race to Host the United Nations (NYU Press, 2013); as well as articles in The Pennsylvania Magazine of History and Biography, Pennsylvania History, The Public Historian, and other journals. As a journalist, she was a co-winner of the Pulitzer Prize for general local reporting awarded to the staff of the Fort Wayne (Ind.) News-Sentinel in 1983 for coverage of the floods that ravaged that city in 1982.