Monday, 20 October 2014

Books glorious (emigration) books

The (mostly) Irish migration and history section of my library.
For her Worldwide Genealogy post earlier this month, Tessa Keogh wrote about a Baker’s Dozen of Genealogy/Family History Books. In a Google+ discussion, Tessa gave me the green light to appropriate her idea and write about the books that are among my own “Top of the Pops”. So this month my post is about my favourite books on migration, especially Irish migration to Australia, a topic near and dear to my heart. I hope some of these will be new to you and offer you some great reading opportunities. Don’t make the mistake of thinking they only apply to Australia as much of the information/research can also be applied to research elsewhere. Either way, it gives a better understanding of where our Irish ancestors’ migration fits into the bigger picture.  

Dr Richard Reid is one of Australia’s foremost Irish, and military, historians as well as a speaker on
Unlock the Past Cruises. If you have Irish ancestry in Australia you absolutely must get your hands on this book: buy it or borrow it from the library or a friend, if they’ll let it go. Based on Richard’s PhD thesis it is an analysis of the Irish migration to Australia in its peak period, revealing the nuances within that movement. I first read it as a thesis and was thrilled when he published the book…from my point of view it’s research gold! I wrote a review on it soon after it was published and it is worth reading even by non-Australian researchers who have Irish ancestry or an interest in migration history.
Richard Reid is also co-author or contributor to a couple of small collaborative publications for which the content vastly outweighs their slight appearance.
Visible women : female immigrants in colonial Australia. Richards, E (ed), ANU, Canberra, 1995
Poor Australian immigrants in the nineteenth century. Richards, E (ed), ANU, Canberra, 1991
Neglected sources for the history of Australian immigration.  Richards E; Reid, R; Fitzpatrick, D, ANU, Canberra, 1989.

Life and Death in the Age of Sail: the passage to AustraliaHaines, R, UNSW Press, Sydney, 2003.

I find both these books by Dr Robin Haines to provide an invaluable understanding of the background to our ancestral families’ migration. It would be interesting for north American readers to compare and contrast the management of migration to Australia with that to the America. Aimed primarily at the academic readership they offer many insights for family historians. Sharon from Strong Foundations blog has recently reviewed the latter book.

Ireland’s New Worlds: Immigrants, Politics and Society in the United States and Australia 1815-1922. Campbell, M. The University of Wisconsin Press, Madison Wisconsin 2008.

Now readily available on Kindle as an ebook, or electronically if you have university access, this is an excellent book for its cross-comparison between two Irish migration streams and how their experiences differed. Definitely worth reading by Irish historians in both hemispheres.

Atlas of the Great Irish Famine. Crowley, J; Smyth WJ; Murphy M (eds), Cork University Press, Cork, 2012.
This comprehensive study of the Famine’s impact is excellent but I find its weight a deterrent to settling down to read it. I rather wish they’d issued it in two parts or alternatively that it was available as an ebook or two ebooks.

Mapping the Great Irish FamineKennedy L, Ell P S,  Crawford, E M, Clarkson L, (eds), Four Courts Press, Dublin, 1999.

I have had this book for some time. More spatial geography in relation to the Famine allowing a focus on townland or barony in comparison across census returns. I used it for a long time before the Atlas was published.

Oceans of Consolation: personal accounts of Irish migration to Australia. Fitzpatrick, D. Melbourne University Press, Melbourne 1995.

Enjoyable and insightful this book of rare letters between emigrants and their families in Ireland opens a precious window into how early emigrants responded to their new country. Although focused on Australian emigrants, the stories would still interest readers from elsewhere in the Irish diaspora. This is one of my favourite reference books. I referred to it in this post a while ago.

Richard Griffith and His Valuations of Ireland. Reilly, J R. Clearfield Company, Inc, 2000

A book no Irish researcher should be without. There’s so much more to the townland pages which we see when we search the valuations. Reilly explains what those cryptic annotations mean in terms of your family research. If you can’t get your hands on the book, this summary article will help.

The End of Hidden Ireland. Scally R J. Oxford University Press, Oxford, 1996.

The story of the residents of the Ballykilcline townland after they are dispossessed from the land. Scally has done a remarkable job of bringing them into the light and demonstrated possible strategies for those interested in One Place Studies.

Migration in Irish History, 1607 – 2007. Fitzgerald, P and Lambkin, B.  Palgrave Macmillan, Hampshire, 2008

I confess that I have yet to launch myself into this book but I offer it here because it addresses Irish migration across the centuries rather than the narrow timeframe we tend to focus on as family historians.

Have you read any or all of these books? What do you think of them? Would you recommend them to others?

PS Apologies for the weird formatting...I'm a wordpress blogger and sometimes Blogger defeats me.


  1. That green colour is a challenge for this person who has used Blogger for a long time. Sometimes I go in and change the html and remove all instances of white but it is a painstaking process. Perhaps we could ask Julie if we could have a white background.

    As soon as I saw the books in your first image I just knew who the author of this post would be. Thanks for sharing this list, I'm ashamed to say I only own Farewell my children.

    1. Ladies, I have looked at changing the background colour to white, but it upsets the previously published posts, but how about this.

      If you are copying and pasting from Wordpress or elsewhere insert the text into blog then hit the button that has a Tx on it (second in on the right) that removes the formating. See if that helps, otherwise the grey cells will see what else we can do apart from fiddling with 300 blog posts!

  2. Julie thanks for the Tx tip. Will keep that in mind next time. If it doesn't work I'll just live with the consequences :)

  3. Jill, I'm glad I'm predictable but also that I've offered a former librarian some new choices ;) If you must read one, choose Oceans of Consolation...I'm sure all of us with Irish ancestors wish we had letters like those, jUlie, please don't worry about the formatting - my risk if I insist on copying and pasting and will try your tip.

  4. Wow - some great additions to my reading list! Since I work on a one-name study, I am sure there are Keoughs, Keoghs, Koughs, and Kehoes in Australia! Not enough time in the day, but one day I will get there.

  5. Thanks, Pauleen, these are some great reading suggestions! I'm beginning to think I live in a library. Is it possible to have too many books?

  6. Frances and Tessa, thanks for your comments...hope Santa brought you some of these books :) The question of "too many" is one we all ponder :)


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World Wide Genealogy Team