Publication Date



Anthropology, community, ethnicity, diaspora, Irish immigration, ethnic enclave, Roman Catholicism, parishes

Document Type



Celtic Studies | English Language and Literature | History


Anthropologists recognize social institutions, such as families, schools, marketplaces, and churches, to be integral to the survival of urban immigrant diasporas. Scholars such as Harold Mytum (1994), Michael Parker Pearson (1982), and Jörn Staecker (2000) view churchyard archaeology and the demographics of parishes as important tools in the study of historic corporate cultures and historic, transnational diasporas. This study addresses the corporate nature of foreign-born Irish immigrants arriving in Milwaukee, Wisconsin in the last decade of the nineteenth century (c.1890-1900). The homogeneity of residential patterning associated with this Irish diaspora was tested by analyzing the parish records of Saint Patrick’s Roman Catholic Church. The findings of this research project (t(194)=1.49, p < 0.05) identified a diminished degree of residential variance in the parish community until 1922 when the neighborhoods surrounding the church became residentially pluralized. The results of this study indicate that similar analyses in other ethnic communities both in Milwaukee and elsewhere could lead to a better understanding of the forces operating both for and against assimilation in early immigrant urban communities in the United States. It also suggests that the Celtic identity of the Irish in America was integrally linked to their communal organizations in important ways.