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Professor Richard Jensen is the by-now notorious author of a 2002 article claiming that No Irish Need Apply signs and ads were practically non-existent. Since the publication of 14 year old Rebecca Fried’s debunking of his article, Jensen has been striking out at Fried and at historians and bloggers who have publicized her essay.
This has been nowhere more apparent than exchanges he has had with other writers on-line. For example, when historian Phil Magness of George Mason University questioned some of Jensen’s writing, Jensen responded “Fried got it wrong. do you still believe her????”
A number of academics have told me that they expected Jensen to praise the work of a young student of history, acknowledge that because of the inadequacies of 2002 era search engines his research was skewed, and then move on.
I cannot look into the heart or the head of Dr. Jensen to explain the motive for his angry and over the top assault on Rebecca Fried’s work, but part of his resentment may have been disclosed in his response to one commenter on-line. The commenter praised Fried and said that had Jensen simply moved on no one would have taken much note of his earlier error. Jensen replied caustically that the commenter “thinks a kid is more reliable than a professor.”
To understand how irresponsible Professor Jensen has been, in his August 11 attack on bloggers who had covered Fried’s research, Jensen wrote that “Not a single one of these bloggers actually read her essay; they are all commenting on a misleading press release.” Since Jensen later singled me out as the blogger many others took their lead on the story from, I had to respond.
I had, of course, read Fried’s entire article. I cited hundreds of words from Fried’s article in my own July 19 blog post that appeared nowhere else, except in her original article. I was not working off a press release, but from her article in the Journal of Social History. It was only after being taken to task over the course of two days that Jensen finally gave up and admitted; “ok I believe that Pat Young read the Fried article.”
Jensen’s error may have been grounded in the fact that Fried’s article was slated to appear in the September issue of the scholarly journal. He seemed unaware that the journal posts articles long before they appear in print on its online platform. In fact, the article was published online, behind an academic paywall on, of all days, July 4, 2015.
Not only did I read the Fried article, but I and other bloggers linked to it. Professor Jensen’s internet skills appear not to have improved since 2002 since he obviously either did not follow the links provided or did not even read the blogs he was so quick to criticize. In fact, at the end of my blog post I wrote: “I encourage those with academic journal access to read Rebecca Fried’s entire article. It is compact, elegant, and well-researched. We can expect great things from this teenaged historian. She has already made a great contribution. Source: No Irish Need Deny: Evidence for the Historicity of NINA Restrictions in Advertisements and Signs by Rebecca Fried” I then gave the link.
The universality of Dr. Jensen’s claim that not a single one of the authors on the 4,000 web sites he claims retold the Fried story actually read her article parallels his claims that there were no, or almost no, signs or ads announcing No Irish Need Apply. Without bothering to do the research, Professor Jensen seems ever ready to make broad categorical conclusions.
Perhaps because Jensen was so wrong on Fried’s work as well as on whether bloggers had read her article, he decided to claim that in “his blog posting Young makes dozens of blunders large & small.” He does not actually offer “dozens of blunders” committed by me, but let’s examine the Top 2 of my “blunders.” Dr. Jensen quotes my statement that “Jensen’s article appeared in the Oxford Journal of Social History, and now the same journal has an article definitively debunking the Jensen Thesis that NINA signs did not exist. Incredibly, the new article was authored by a teenaged high schooler.” Jensen charged that I was discredited because I had “1) Wrong title for journal. 2) she enter high school next month.” I am not sure that even if I was wrong on these two things if you, gentle reader, would lose all faith in me, but I was not wrong.
Dr. Jensen identifies the first of my “errors” as the title of the journal he and Fried published in. The journal is Journal of Social History which is published by Oxford. If his attack on me is based on my referring to it in a blog as the Oxford Journal of Social History, then his defense of his flawed research through the discrediting of others is based on thin gruel indeed.
My next supposed error is my claim that Ms. Fried, who is 14, is a high school student. Dr. Jensen writes, and I quote verbatim, “2) she enter high school next month.” The article by Rebecca Fried was published on July 4, after Ms. Fried completed middle school. Here in New York we would refer to her as a high schooler at that point, even though, I suppose, something might happen that could prevent her from actually going to classes in September. However, in deference to Professor Jensen, and to lay this issue to rest, I concede that she was not yet finished with middle school when she submitted her essay to the Journal of Social History, even though she had finished when it was published. Accordingly, it can be argued that Professor Jensen was debunked by an 8th grader, as he points out, and not by a high schooler.
I do note that when the Journal itself is actually published in print in September she will be taking her 9th grade classes.
Jensen flings similarly extraneous charges of error at other writers on the controversy. He seems to hope that if he throws enough dirt, something will stick.
Meanwhile, Jensen’s nastiness apparently has inspired many researchers to look for additional examples of No Irish Need Apply in the U.S.
Researcher Liam Hogan has posted a list of 269 No Irish Need Apply ads from newspapers alone. While Dr. Jensen claimed, for example, that there were only a few such ads in Chicago, Hogan has identified 97 from that city alone.
I found several previously unrecognized references to the ads. The Leisure Hour Monthly from 1871 said that it is “common in advertisements for servants in New York, as in London, to append “No Irish Need Apply.” These words grate rather harshly on the ear, in a land where all are supposed to be ‘free and equal.’ ” Barry Popik found another use of the phrase in The New Monthly Magazine from 1836 describing a visit to New York; “Advertisements frequently run in these terms: ‘Wanted, so and so.—No Irish need apply.’”
Even one of our greatest 19th Century authors cites to No Irish Need Apply. In Mark Twain’s book Roughing It, he describes a character as being “down on” Catholics; “His word was, No Irish need apply,” Twain wrote.
A newspaper essay by the author of Little Women came to light through Dr. Jensen himself; “The Servant-Girl Problem: How Louisa M. Alcott Solves It.” In the article, Alcott says she fired her Irish maid because of “the faults of her race.” She instead writes that “for a month I did do the work myself, looking about meantime for help. “No Irish need apply,” was my answer to the halfdozen girls who…did come to take the place.”
In spite of all the evidence to the contrary, Jensen still says loudly and abusively that the memory of discrimination against the Irish in the 19th Century through No Irish Need Apply signs and ads is a myth. He insists that we need to listen to the professor and not the 8th grader or the evidence that she has brought to light.
The Immigrants’ Civil War is a series that examines the role of immigrants in our bloodiest war. Articles will appear twice monthly between 2011 and 2017. Here are the articles we have published so far:
1. Immigrant America on the Eve of the Civil War – Take a swing around the United States and see where immigrants were coming from and where they were living in 1861.
2. 1848: The Year that Created Immigrant America – Revolutions in Europe, famine and oppression in Ireland, and the end of the Mexican War made 1848 a key year in American immigration history.
3. Carl Schurz: From German Radical to American Abolitionist– A teenaged revolutionary of 1848, Carl Schurz brought his passion for equality with him to America.
4. Immigrant Leader Carl Schurz Tells Lincoln to Stand Firm Against Slavery.
5. …And the War Came to Immigrant America -The impact of the firing on Fort Sumter on America’s immigrants
6. The Rabbi Who Seceded From the South
7. The Fighting 69th-Irish New York Declares War
8. The Germans Save St. Louis for the Union
9. New York’s Irish Rush to Save Washington
10. Immigrant Day Laborers Help Build the First Fort to Protect Washington-The Fighting 69th use their construction skills.
11. Carl Schurz Meets With Lincoln To Arm the Germans
12. Immigrants Rush to Join the Union Army-Why?– The reasons immigrants gave for enlisting early in the war.
13. Why the Germans Fought for the Union?
14. Why Did the Irish Fight When They Were So Despised?
15. The “Sons of Garibaldi” Join the Union Army
16. The Irish Tigers From Louisiana
17. Immigrant Regiments on Opposite Banks of Bull Run -The Fighting 69th and the Louisiana Tigers
18. The St. Louis Germans Set Out To Free Missouri
19. Wilson’s Creek Drowns Immigrant Dream of Free Missouri
20. English-Only in 1861: No Germans Need Apply
21. After Bull Run: Mutineers, Scapegoats, and the Dead
22. St. Louis Germans Revived by Missouri Emancipation Proclamation
23. Jews Fight the Ban on Rabbis as Chaplains
24. Lincoln Dashes German Immigrants Hopes for Emancipation
25. When Hatred of Immigrants Stopped the Washington Monument from Being Built
26. Inside the Mind of a Know Nothing
27. The Evolution of the Know Nothings
28. The Know Nothings Launch a Civil War Against Immigrant America
29. The Know Nothings: From Triumph to Collapse
30. The Lasting Impact of the Know Nothings on Immigrant America.
31. Lincoln, the Know Nothings, and Immigrant America.
32. Irish Green and Black America: Race on the Edge of Civil War.
33. The Democratic Party and the Racial Consciousness of Irish Immigrants Before the Civil War
34. The Confederates Move Against Latino New Mexico
35. Nuevomexicanos Rally As Confederates Move Towards Santa Fe—But For Which Side?
36. The Confederate Army in New Mexico Strikes at Valverde
37. The Swedish Immigrant Who Saved the U.S. Navy
38. The Confederates Capture Santa Fe and Plot Extermination
39. A German Regiment Fights for “Freedom and Justice” at Shiloh-The 32nd Indiana under Col. August Willich.
40. The Know Nothing Colonel and the Irish Soldier Confronting slavery and bigotry.
41. Did Immigrants Hand New Orleans Over to the Union Army?
42. Did New Orleans’ Immigrants See Union Soldiers As Occupiers or Liberators?
43. Union Leader Ben Butler Seeks Support in New Orleans-When General Ben Butler took command in New Orleans in 1862, it was a Union outpost surrounded by Confederates. Butler drew on his experience as a pro-immigrant politician to win over the city’s Irish and Germans.
44. Union General Ben Butler Leverages Immigrant Politics in New Orleans
45. Thomas Meager: The Man Who Created the Irish Brigade
46. Thomas Meagher: The Irish Rebel Joins the Union Army
47. Recruiting the Irish Brigade-Creating the Irish American
48. Cross Keys: A German Regiment’s Annihilation in the Shenandoah Valley
49. The Irish Brigade Moves Towards Richmond-The Irish brigade in the Peninsula Campaign from March 17 to June 2, 1862.
50. Peninsula Emancipation: Irish Soldiers Take Steps on the Road to Freedom-The Irish Brigade and Irish soldiers from Boston free slaves along the march to Richmond.
51. Slaves Immigrate from the Confederacy to the United States During the Peninsula Campaign
52. The Irish 9th Massachusetts Cut Off During the Seven Days Battles
53. Union Defeat and an Irish Medal of Honor at the End of the Seven Days
54. Making Immigrant Soldiers into Citizens-Congress changed the immigration laws to meet the needs of a nation at war.
55. Carl Schurz: To Win the Civil War End Slavery
56. Carl Schurz: From Civilian to General in One Day
57. Did Anti-German Bigotry Help Cause Second Bull Run Defeat?
58. Immigrant Soldiers Chasing Lee Into Maryland
59. Scottish Highlanders Battle at South Mountain
60. Emancipation 150: “All men are created equal, black and white”– A German immigrant reacts to the Emancipation Proclamation
61. The Irish Brigade at Antietam
62. Private Peter Welsh Joins the Irish Brigade
63. Preliminaries to Emancipation: Race, the Irish, and Lincoln
64. The Politics of Emancipation: Lincoln Suffers Defeat
65. Carl Schurz Blames Lincoln for Defeat
66. The Irish Brigade and Virginia’s Civilians Black and White
67. The Irish Brigade and the Firing of General McClellan
68. General Grant Expells the Jews
69. The Irish Brigade Moves Towards Its Destruction At Fredericksburg.
70. Fredericksburg: The Worst Day in the Young Life of Private McCarter of the Irish Brigade
71. Forever Free: Emancipation New Year Day 1863
72. Private William McCarter of the Irish Brigade Hospitalized After Fredericksburg
73. The Immigrant Women That Nursed Private McCarter After Fredericksburg
74. Nursing Nuns of the Civil War
75. The Biases Behind Grant’s Order Expelling the Jews
76. The Jewish Community Reacts to Grant’s Expulsion Order
77. Lincoln Overturns Grant’s Order Against the Jews
78. Irish Families Learn of the Slaughter at Fredericksburg
79. Requiem for the Irish Brigade
80. St. Patrick’s Day in the Irish Brigade
81. Student Asks: Why Don’t We Learn More About Immigrants in the Civil War?
82. Missouri’s German Unionists: From Defeat to Uncertain Victory
83. Missouri Germans Contest Leadership of Unionist Cause
84. German Leader Franz Sigel’s Victory Earns a Powerful Enemy
85. Immigrant Unionists Marching Towards Pea Ridge
86. German Immigrants at the Battle of Pea Ridge: Opening Moves
87. Pea Ridge: The German Unionists Outflanked
88. German Immigrants at the Battle of Pea Ridge
89. The Organization of the “German” XI Corps
90. The Irish Brigade on the Road to Chancellorsville
91. The “German” XI Corps on the Eve of Chancellorsville
92. The “Germans Run Away” at Chancellorsville
93. The New York Times, the Germans, and the Anatomy of a Scapegoat at Chancellorsville
94. An Irish Soldier Between Chancellorsville and Gettysburg
95. Lee’s Army Moves Towards Gettysburg: Black Refugees Flee
96. Iron Brigade Immigrants Arrive at Gettysburg
97. Iron Brigade Immigrants Go Into Battle the First Day at Gettysburg
98. The “German” XI Corps at Gettysburg July 1, 1863
99. An Irish Colonel and the Defense of Little Round Top on the Second Day at Gettysburg
100. A Prayer Before Death for the Irish Brigade at Gettysburg: July 2, 1863
101. The Irish Regiment that Ended “Pickett’s Charge”: July 3, 1863
102. Five Points on the Edge of the Draft Riots
103. Before the Draft Riots: The Cultivation of Division
104. The New York Draft Riots Begin
105. Convulsion of Violence: The First Day of the New York Draft Riots
106. The Draft Riots End in a Sea of Blood-July 14-15, 1863.
107. Pat Cleburne: The Irish Confederate and the Know Nothings
108. Killing Pat Cleburne: Know Nothing Violence
109. Pat Cleburne: Arresting a General, Becoming a General
110. The Immigrant Story Behind “Twelve Years a Slave”
111. A German Immigrant Woman’s Gettysburg Address
112. Pat Cleburne: The Irish Confederate’s Emancipation Proclamation
113. Pat Cleburne: The South Can’t Use Black Soldiers Without Ending Slavery
114. The Suppression of Pat Cleburne’s Emancipation Proposal
115. An Irish Immigrant Colonel’s Warnings Ignored at Chickamauga
116. An Immigrant Colonel’s Fighting Retreat at Chickamauga
117. August Willich: German Socialist at Chickamauga
118. Hans Heg:at Chickamauga: Norwegian Commander on the Eve of Battle
119. Ivan and Nadine Turchin: Russian Revolutionary Aristocrats at Chickamauga
120. German Immigrants Pinned Down at Chickamauga
121. Hans Heg: To Die for His Adopted Country at Chickamauga
122. Patrick Guiney: An Irish Colonel on the Edge of the Wilderness
123. Immigrants March Out of The Wilderness and Into a Wicked Hail of Gunfire
124. Peter Welsh in the Irish Brigade’s Purgatory at Spotsylvania
125. Peter Welsh: What Sacrifice Must the Immigrant Make for His Adopted Land?
126. A Second Irish Brigade’s Catastrophe at a Forgotten Fight Near Fredericksburg
127. An Irish Man and a French Woman Between Spotsylvania and Cold Harbor
128. Two Irish Brigades Swept Away by a Hurricane from Hell at Cold Harbor
129. Petersburg: The Start of a Ten Month Siege that Devoured Men and Disabled the Irish Brigade
130. A Volcano in Virginia: The Battle of the Crater
131. 1864 Election: The Immigrant Voter & Abraham Lincoln
132. August Belmont: The German Jewish Immigrant Who Led the Opposition to Lincoln’s 1864 Reelection
133. Lincoln and the Superiority of the “Negro” over the Irish
134. Lincoln’s Germans and the Election of 1864
135. Lincoln’s German Lawyer Comes Out Swinging in the Election of 1864
136. Lincoln Wins the Election of 1864 With Immigrant Votes
137. American Refugee Camp in Civil War Kentucky Destroyed by Union Soldiers
138. Kentucky Civil War Refugee Camp Reborn and Reconstructed After Expulsions
139. Immigrant German “Hamburgers” Tormented and Captured at Petersburg
140. German General Weitzel and His African Canadians at Petersburg
141. Irish Regiment at the Beginning of the End of the Confederacy at Five Forks
142. Richmond Burning: The German Immigrant and Black Troops Who Saved the City
143. Appomattox: The Capture of a Confederate Army & the Fall from Grace of an Immigrant General
144. Lincoln Assassinated: John Wilkes Booth’s Immigrant Conspirators
145. Immigrants Hunt Lincoln’s Killers and Help Capture the Confederate President
146. Lincoln’s Murder and the New York Irish American
147. Lincoln’s Funeral in Immigrant New York
148. German General Carl Schurz Begins His Investigation of the Post-War South
149. Carl Schurz Warned That a “System of Terrorism” Was Taking Hold in the Post-War South in 1865
150. Immigrants in the Union Navy: Minorities in the Majority
151. How Immigrants Were Recruited into the United States Navy
152. African Canadian Sailors in the Union Navy
153. High School Student Proves Professor Wrong When He Denied “No Irish Need Apply” Signs Existed
154. The Fallout from No Irish Need Apply Article Spreads Worldwide
155. No Irish Need Apply Professor Gets into a Fight With Our Blogger Pat Young Over Louisa May Alcott
156. Professor Behind No Irish Need Apply Denial May Have Revealed Motive for Attacking 14 Year Old Historian
157. A Scottish Socialist and a German General Work to Help Slaves Become Freedpeople-Robert Dale Owen, Carl Schurz and the founding of the Freedmen’s Bureau.