Jobs for irish immigrant women in the 1900s

Written by sara higley
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Jobs for irish immigrant women in the 1900s
Many Irish Immigrants came to America in search of a better life ( Images)

In the early 1900s, Irish immigrants were the second-largest group of immigrants travelling to America. Unlike other cultures, many Irish women came by themselves to start better lives. The Irish were one of the poorest nationalities, but had an advantage in obtaining jobs through their language. Unlike the language barrier faced by Germans, many Irish immigrants spoke English and were able to get jobs as indentured servants among other things.

Unskilled Factory Workers

Because of the poverty in Irish neighbourhoods, many Irish men, women and children were illiterate and unable to develop skills and trades, so were placed in factories working as unskilled labourers. The working conditions in these factories was not good, yet everyday thousands of Irish women went to work in these factories to provide for their families.


By the early 1900s, over 2 million Irish immigrants had come to the United States. 50 per cent of whom were women. Many of them single women who were trying to escape the hardship they faced at home in Ireland. The Irish immigrants during this time were predominantly Catholic and many single women became nuns once they reached America. Being a nun provided these women a stable life, while not having to work in the factories or as indentured servants.


Many Irish women came to America and received their teaching license in as little as two years. By the 1900s, the process was made more challenging: a teacher had to prove her proficiency in areas of study.

Indentured Servants

Poor Irish immigrants who could not afford the trip to America would serve as indentured servants for a number of years to pay for the cost of their voyage. After years of service, they would be allowed to leave and start their own families. Irish women who could not speak the language found themselves unable to find other jobs and often stayed on as indentured servants.

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