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Irish American Resources at the Library of Congress

Compiled by reference specialists at the Library of Congress, this guide identifies key print and online resources for studying and engaging Irish American heritage.


Color lithograph by Eagle Litho. Co. Ireland's historical emblems. 1894. Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division.

Since the founding of the Jamestown colony in Virginia in 1607, Irish people have immigrated to and settled in America. From politics to a nation-wide appreciation of St. Patrick’s Day, every aspect of American history and culture reveals the extensive influence of Irish Americans and the significance of their ethnic identity.

This guide introduces the wonderful primary and secondary resources on Irish American heritage available through the Library of Congress. A variety of formats can be explored including audio recordings of interviews and music, photographs, and historic newspaper articles. In addition to the freely available online resources from the Library of Congress’s collections, selected online resources from sites outside of the Library of Congress are also listed. Additional materials such as printed books and subscription databases are available onsite at the Library of Congress and through other libraries. This selective guide is not intended to be exhaustive; see Search Tips for finding additional materials.

About the Main Reading Room

The Main Reading Room is the principal point for gaining access to the Library's general collections of books and bound periodicals. Every day, hundreds of books and bound periodical volumes are delivered from the stacks for use in the Main Reading Room. Even researchers who will go on to work in one of the specialized reading rooms often begin their work in the Main Reading Room in order to use the electronic resources in the Microform and Electronic Resources Center (LJ-139, the former Computer Catalog Center), to consult the Main Card Catalog, to obtain an orientation to the Library as a whole, or to use some of the approximately 56,000 volumes in the Main Reading Room reference collection.