These two books belonged to my great grandmother, Helen O’Malley. Helen was the daughter of two Irish immigrants who first immigrated to New York in the early 1900s. After both of her parents were unable to find work due to the growing opposition of hiring Irish immigrants, they moved to Cleveland, Ohio. At this time, Cleveland was becoming heavily populated by primarily Irish immigrants due to Cleveland’s low cost of living. Helen’s mother, Bridey, was originally drawn to the U.S. after hearing about the countless opportunities for women in terms of jobs and education. Bridey longed to become educated. However, both in New York and in Cleveland, Bridey could not seek the education she desperately wanted. Instead, Bridey pushed her husband to get a well paying job so she could remain at home and educate her children. Helen was the youngest of the 13 and was the only child to graduate from high school. Some point in the early 1920s Bridey bought these two books to read to her children. These two books were especially unique in that they represented Bridey’s spirit. Bridey was extremely proud to be in the U.S. and she desired to pass on her patriotism to her children through this American songs book. She specifically picked the American reader it had an Irish female author. Bridey felt a special connection to education and her nationality as an Irish woman, and she was proud she could pass along her family’s heritage as well as her love for education along to her children.
– Tyler Tagliaferro