Visit Your Local PBS Station PBS Home PBS Home Programs A-Z TV Schedules Watch Video Donate Shop PBS Search PBS
Destination America
US ImmigrationPersonal StoriesResourcesThe Program
Why do they come?When did they come?Take the quiz
When did they come?
1851-1860 Potato Famine

1861-1870 Land of Opportunity

1871-1880 Religious Freedom

1881-1890 The Age of Steam

1891-1900 Southern Italians

1900-1910 Russian Pogroms

European Emigration to the U.S. 1851 - 1860

Map depicting European emigration to the U.S. 1851-1860

Although the Irish potato blight receded in 1850, the effects of the famine continued to spur Irish emigration into the 20th century. Still facing poverty and disease, the Irish set out for America where they reunited with relatives who had fled at the height of the famine.

Background
Between 1845 and 1850, a devastating fungus destroyed Ireland's potato crop. During these years, starvation and related diseases claimed as many as a million lives, while perhaps twice that number of Irish immigrated — 500,000 of them to the United States, where they accounted for more than half of all immigrants in the 1840s. Between 1820 and 1975, 4.7 million Irish settled in America. In 2002, more than 34 million Americans considered themselves to be of Irish ancestry, making Irish Americans the country's second-largest ethnic group.

The Famine Irish picture

The "Famine Irish" represented the first major influx of Irish immigration into America.


Source: Destination America by Charles A. Wills


Sources: Busch-AP, German guide-Minnesota Historical Society-CORBIS, Fumigation-U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Russian pogrom-Bettmann-CORBIS, Ship-Bettman/CORBIS Book & Series: Destination America

©2005 Educational Broadcasting Corporation. All rights reserved. | PBS Privacy Policy | Created September 2005