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Immigration Project

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Immigration Project - Page Text Content

BC: 1. 2. 3. 4.

FC: Immigration Project | Sydney Hannan American History

1: My name is Molly O'Conner. This is a story about why my family left our country, Ireland, and our journey to America.

2: In the early 1800s, the population of Ireland was about five million. After about 40 years the population increased to about eight million. Many people lived in extreme poverty. In 1845 a fungus affected the vital potato crop in southern England, which soon spread to Ireland. With the failure of the potato crop, people began to die in the thousands either from hunger or disease. The lack of food caused almost two million people to die. Families felt they needed to move to find a place that provided a better life and future for their children. We are moving to America. | Ireland

4: What life was like on the Ship | We had to travel to America aboard a ship. Before boarding the ship we had to be examined by a doctor to make sure we were healthy. They would cut our hair and comb it out to make sure there were no lice on board. If we did get sick, we wouldn't be allowed off the ship in America. If you had a first or second class ticket, you would get a private room and good food. Most of the immigrants, us included, had a steerage class ticket which meant we would sleep and eat on the bottom level of the ship. It was really crowded and unsanitary down there. They fed us lukewarm soup, stringy beef, and boiled potatoes. The bunk beds were stacked three high. It takes from 40 days to 4 months to cross the Atlantic Ocean from Europe through violent storms and rough water. To pass the time we would play games like marbles and dominoes. If it was a nice day, we spent it on the deck. Some days my family would help the sailors out with the chores on the ship.

6: Once we arrived at Ellis Island, we had to be examined by a medical doctor again. If you weren't healthy, you would be sent back to Ireland. If you were healthy, you were allowed to get off to be processed. If you had a first or second class ticket, you could get off the ship, pass through the customs, and were free to go. However, if you had a third class or steerage ticket, it was a much longer process, up to five hours. After you passed the health exam, you saw the government inspector. He would check your papers and ask you questions to make sure you met the legal requirements to enter the United States. If you passed, then you got to move on to customs. It took a long time because of all the people waiting in line. | Arrival at Ellis Island

8: Living in New York City | We lived in a place called tenement housing. Tenement housing was built rapidly for the thousands of immigrants arriving daily. They were really intended for single families, however, many people crowded into these one room, tiny apartments. There was usually a small area behind the building for privies and water pumps. There was little ventilation, light or privacy in the apartments. Overcrowding was a huge problem. Often 10 to 12 people occupied one apartment. It was so overcrowded and unsanitary. The landlords didn't keep up with maintenance so it became very dirty and broken down.

10: Working in the U.S. | Finding work in America was difficult if you were Irish. First of all, with so many immigrants coming in, it was overwhelming for employers. Also, the Irish were primarily farmers and didn't know how to work in the industrialized cities. Many people had prejudices and didn't want to hire the Irish because they thought they were lazy and unskilled. Employers hung signs that said "NINA", which meant No Irish Need Apply. This made it really hard to find a job. The Irish did dangerous jobs like working in coal mines and building railroads for low wages that most people didn't want.

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  • By: Sydney H.
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  • Title: Immigration Project
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  • Published: over 5 years ago