LEWISBURG, Pa. - President Brian C. Mitchell's book, The Paddy Camps: The Irish of Lowell, 1821-61, has been released in a paperback edition by the University of Illinois Press.
Lowell, Mass. occupies a significant place in American history. The first planned industrial city and an early leader in the textile industry, Lowell is often studied in the context of American labor, economic, and industrializing history.
Lowell is also Mitchell's birthplace. His fascination with the history of his hometown and the role of immigrants in its history led to his writing The Paddy Camp. The initial printing of the book was so successful that the hardcover version sold out.
The Paddy Camps weaves together the concerns of immigration, labor, and social history. The book demonstrates how the Irish community in Lowell overcame adversity to develop strong religious institutions, an increased political presence, and a sense of common traditions. Mitchell described his book as "speaking directly to the evolution of American cities and the role immigrants have played in shaping them."
Mitchell traces the Irish immigration from the pre-famine era through the immigration boom of the mid 1840s. The growing Irish population of Lowell served as a source of cheap labor for local textile mill owners. Displaced by cheaper labor, other workers blamed the Irish for job losses and added to their plight through repression and segregation.
Noted civil war historian Kenneth Stampp said, "With the historian it is an article of faith that knowledge of the past is a key to understanding the present."
For those looking to understand the role immigration has plays in shaping modern day America, Mitchell said in the new preface to his book, "Nineteenth century Lowell is a lesson for those who seek to understand twenty-first-century Houston, Detroit, Denver, or Miami… The specific histories, periods of growth and impact of world events differ in detail, but the stories of accommodation and assimilation have distinct parallels even if the process and outcomes differ."
Copies of the book can be obtained through booksellers online and nationwide or from the Bucknell University Bookstore.
Posted May 8, 2006