HNO IRISH NEED APPLY": A MYTH OF VICTIMIZATION By Richard Jensen University of Illinois, Chicago Introduction The Irish American community harbors a deeply held belief that it was the victim of systematic job discrimination in America, and that the discrimination was done publicly in highly humiliating fashion through signs that announced "Help Wanted: No Irish Need Apply." This "NINA" slogan could have been a metaphor for their troubles-akin to tales that America was a "golden mountain" or had "streets paved with gold." But the Irish insist that the signs really existed and prove the existence of widespread discrimination and prejudice.' The fact that Irish vividly "remember" NINA signs is a curious historical puzzle. There are no contemporary or retrospective accounts of a specific sign at a specific location. No particular business enterprise is named as a culprit. No historian.i archivist, or museum curator has ever located one': no photo, graph or drawing exists." No other ethnic group complained about being singled out by comparable signs. Only Irish Catholics have reported seeing the sign in America-no Protestant, no Jew, no non, Irish Catholic has reported seeing one. This is especially strange since signs were primarily directed toward these others: the
Journal of Social History – Oxford University Press
Published: Jan 1, 2002
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