Abstract

Abstract:

Richard Jensen has forcefully argued that the absence of evidence supporting the Irish-American community’s historical memory of “no Irish need apply” restrictions in advertisements and signs suggests that these “NINA” publications, and particularly those directed to men as opposed to female domestics, did not occur to any appreciable extent in American history. Jensen argues that the NINA memory requires explanation as a psychological phenomenon rather than a historical one. This article surveys additional evidence from the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries documenting the publication of NINA-restricted solicitations directed to men. It shows that there were many such advertisements and signs, and argues that a variety of lines of evidence support the conclusion that such publications were sometimes common in some places during the nineteenth century. The article also surveys evidence relevant to several of Jensen’s subsidiary arguments, including lawsuits involving NINA publications, NINA restrictions in housing solicitations, Irish-American responses to NINA advertisements, and the use of NINA advertisements in Confederate propaganda. The article concludes that Jensen’s thesis about the highly limited extent of NINA postings requires revision, and that the earlier view of historians generally accepting the widespread reality of the NINA phenomenon is better supported by the currently available evidence.

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Additional Information

ISSN
1527-1897
Print ISSN
0022-4529
Pages
pp. 829-852
Launched on MUSE
2016-08-11
Open Access
No
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