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COLLECTION Identifier: MC 407

Models for movers oral history project records, 1986-1990


Tapes and transcripts of interviews, legal agreements, photographs, etc., of íde O'Carroll, a founder of Irish Women in Boston, founder of Trasna na dTonnta--Across the Waves, and a consultant to film, television, and radio documentaries on Ireland.


  • 1986-1990

Access Restrictions:

Access. Collection is open for research. An appointment is necessary to use any audiovisual material.

Conditions Governing Use

Copyright. Copyright in the records created by Ide O'Carroll as well as copyright in other papers in the collection may be held by their authors, or the authors' heirs or assigns.

Copying. Papers may be copied in accordance with the library's usual procedures.


.83 linear feet ((2 file boxes) plus 3 folders of photographs, 30 audiotapes, 5 videotapes)
The files in Series I are arranged in three main alphabetical sequences, one for each of the three waves of emigration from Ireland in the twentieth century: 1920s, 1950s, and 1980s; there are a few interviews with women who emigrated in other decades. They contain íde B. O'Carroll's correspondence with immigrant women, papers based on Models for Movers she presented at conferences, original and edited transcripts, and interviewee addresses and telephone numbers. The last will enable future researchers to contact most of these women. Some interviewees, however, especially "illegal/undocumented" 1980s immigrants, wish to remain anonymous; their transcripts have been copied and identifying information removed on the copies. The original transcripts are closed to research until 1 January 2040 for 1950s immigrants, and 2060 for 1980s immigrants.

Series II includes legal agreements and other project files, various related videotapes, and other documents pertaining to recent Irish women immigrants.


íde B. O'Carroll was born in Tullamore, County Offaly, Ireland, and taught in Cork for a number of years before moving to Boston, Mass., in 1986. A founder of the Irish Women in Boston group, she also set up a media collective, Trasna na dTonnta/Across the Waves, and has been a consultant for film, television, and radio documentaries on Ireland. With an M.A. in history from Northeastern University (1989), she was a doctoral student at Harvard Graduate School of Education when she donated this collection. Her master's thesis consisted of a history of Irish women immigrants and relied heavily on a number of oral histories, most conducted in the Boston area. This work was revised and published as Models for Movers: Irish Women's Emigration to America (Dublin: Attic Press, 1990).

Models for Movers focused on three waves of emigration from Ireland in the twentieth century: 1920s, 1950s, and 1980s. The study concerned the question of choice: why some Irish women chose to emigrate to the U.S.A. rather than remain in Ireland, or move to Britain. The thesis of the study is that Irish women, half consciously, half unconsciously, rejected an Irish society that was oppressive to women and chose to move to the U.S.A., where they would have greater independence and control over their lives. Many of the interviews therefore contain information on life in Ireland as well as in the U.S.A.

These women availed themselves of the unique pattern of female chain migration, by which a female relative or friend in America aided the immigrant with money for passage and offered support and work on arrival. This pattern had been established by Irish women in the nineteenth century, who encouraged and often financed one another's move to the U.S.A.

Oral histories are a central source for any understanding of Irish immigrant history. These immigrant women seemed to have little time to sit and write, and seldom saw the value of writing about their "ordinary" lives. Theirs is primarily an oral history, passed from generation to generation, or as it is expressed in the Gaelic, "o ghlun go ghlun" (from knee to knee). Over a four year period (1986 1990), íO'C made contact with many Irish immigrants. Only after extensive preliminary discussions were certain individuals interviewed; this decision was made because of limited time. Listening copies of unrestricted interviews are available to researchers. The taped interviews were later transcribed; some were edited, remaining as true to the original source as possible. None of the transcripts was proofread.


The collection is arranged in two series:
  1. I. Individual Irish women
  2. II. Administrative and general

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Accession number: 91-M14

These records of her oral history project were given to the Schlesinger Library by Ide O'Carroll in January 1991.


  1. Box 1: 1-55
  2. Box 2: 56-108

Processing Information

Processed: July 1991

By: íde B. O'Carroll
Link to catalog
O'Carroll, Ide. Models for movers oral history project records, 1986-1990: A Finding Aid
Arthur and Elizabeth Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America

Repository Details

Part of the Schlesinger Library, Radcliffe Institute Repository

The preeminent research library on the history of women in the United States, the Schlesinger Library documents women's lives from the past and present for the future.

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