Invisible Diaspora? English Ethnicity in the United States before 1920

Donald MacRaild, Tanja Bueltmann, David T. Gleeson

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    7 Citations (Scopus)


    This article explores the hidden or relatively overlooked English ethnicity, and tries establish some of the reasons for this academic amnesia. We recognize that immigrant ethnicity, where it exists, can be found in multiple locations. Not all of it is institutional, structural, or formal. As extensive work on British immigrant letters has highlighted, English migrants often expressed feelings of ethnicity just as deep as their Scottish and Welsh compatriots in their letters home. While the English showed little of the public ethnicity associated with the Irish on St. Patrick’s Day or the Scots with their marching pipe bands, they did introduce and maintain elements of their culture in the United States. Shrove Tuesday and May Day were celebrated by English immigrants in the nineteenth century before they became part of an Anglo-American culture. Cricket, rugby, pubs, beer, and types of food, eaten in particular ways, were part of this outwardly English way of life—the sports, for example, being played by the English throughout their places of settlement. Whilst acknowledging these layers and the scope for wide expressions of Englishness, we focus on ethnic associations since they afford the possibility to explore varieties of ethnic behaviour through relatively rich records.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)5-30
    JournalJournal of American Ethnic History
    Issue number4
    Publication statusPublished (in print/issue) - 1 Jun 2014


    • English emigration
    • diaspora
    • migration
    • ethnicity
    • USA.


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