The ILHS presents a wide array of leading scholars and accomplished writers at our monthly Speaker Series events. Most talks are held on the last Sunday of each month, September through May, at the United Irish Cultural Center, 45th Avenue and Sloat Blvd., San Francisco, unless otherwise noted. Events are $5 and free for members. No reservations or advance purchase are required.
Sunday October 27, 2019 – Historian Jim Fisher, author of On the Irish Waterfront: The Crusader, the Movie, and the Soul of the Port of New York
The ILHS is very pleased to present Irish American historian James T. Fisher, who will deliver a lecture on his research on Irish Americans in the construction of the Panama Canal on Sunday, October 27 at 5pm at the United Irish Cultural Center, 45th Avenue and Sloat Blvd.
Fisher, is a prolific historian of Irish America, notably author of On the Irish Waterfront: The Crusader, the Movie, and the Soul of the Port of New York
Site of the world’s busiest and most lucrative harbor throughout the first half of the twentieth century, the Port of New York was also the historic preserve of Irish American gangsters, politicians, longshoremen’s union leaders, and powerful Roman Catholic pastors. This is the demimonde depicted to stunning effect in Elia Kazan’s On the Waterfront (1954) and into which James T. Fisher takes readers in this remarkable and engaging historical account of the classic film’s backstory.
On the Irish Waterfront is also a detailed social history of the New York/New Jersey waterfront, from the rise of Irish American entrepreneurs and political bosses during the World War I era to the mid-1950s, when the emergence of a revolutionary new mode of cargo-shipping signaled a radical reorganization of the port. This book explores the conflicts experienced and accommodations made by an insular Irish-Catholic community forced to adapt its economic, political, and religious lives to powerful forces of change both local and global in scope.
Over time, Fisher’s research took him to the far reaches of Central America, to the construction of the Panama Canal and the varied experiences of Irish American workers in that distant jungle. He will address his recent research in this lecture.
James T. Fisher is Professor of Theology and American Studies, Fordham University. He is author of Communion of Immigrants: A History of Catholics in America, Dr. America: The Lives of Thomas A. Dooley, 1927–1961, and The Catholic Counterculture in America, 1933-1962.