The Butte Irish

Class and Ethnicity in an American Mining Town, 1875-1925
Author: David M. Emmons
The celebrated study of how Irish immigrants built a community in Butte, Montana
Paper – $32
eBook – $14.95
Publication Date
Paperback: 01/01/1990
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About the Book

The copper mines of Butte, Montana, attracted a flood of Irish immigrants who soon coalesced into a large and assertive community. David Emmons’ pioneering study of Irishness in America follows these people from their backgrounds in Ireland to their creation of a powerful ethnic community in Buttle. As he shows, the complex interplay of Irish nationalism with worker consciousness and the nature and hazards of work in the mines influenced Irish community building. Emmons shows how the stalwart supporters of groups like the Ancient Order of Hiberians marched and drilled for Irish freedom and identity. As Irish immigrants ran the town, the miners' union, and the largest mining companies, they had the power to use a tradition of ethnic cooperation to ensure safe and steady work--Irish mines taking care of Irish miners. Emmons’ analysis uses this backdrop to illuminate how Butte’s unique setting tested the seam between class consciousness and ethnicity.

About the Author

David M. Emmons, professor of history at the University of Montana, is the author of Garden in the Grasslands: The Boomer Literature of the Central Plains.

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"This is a very important book, perhaps one of the most important and best books ever written on Irish American workers. "--Journal of American History

"Brings a new level of sophistication to the field of American history. David Emmons has written an elegant account of a remarkable western community, and one of the most impressive studies of the postfamine Irish."--Journal of Economic History

"Emmons has untangled the threads of Irish-American nationalism, worker radicalism, class divisions within the Irish community, and the effect of a new generation of Irish immigrants on old Irish associational life. It is a masterful job.--Mary Murphy, Montana: Magazine of Western History


Winner of the 1990 Robert Athearn Award of the Western History Association and an Honorable Mention for the 1990 James S. Donnelly, Sr., Prize in History and the Social Sciences from the American Conference for Irish Studies