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Your Fondest Annie

Letters from Annie O’Donnell to James P. Phelan 1901-1904

Annie O’Donnell left her native Galway for America in 1898, one of 15,175 Irish women who left that year; they far outnumbered the men, and most of them went into domestic service. She became friends with Jim Phelan on the ship to Philadelphia. He was a 22-year-old farmer from Co. Kilkenny who had run away from home during Sunday mass to join his uncle, a tilesetter in Indianapolis. Annie went to work as a children’s nurse for the W. L. Mellon family of Pittsburgh. Her letters to Jim Phelan, published here for the first time, are a unique contribution to the growing literature on women’s emigration: they provide a sustained three-year narrative of her life as a children’s nurse. Annie O’Donnell had been well educated in Ireland and her letters are lively and enjoyable to read. Maureen Murphy has provided an introduction and notes to the letters.

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Introduction by Maureen Murphy Letters from Annie O’Donnell to James P. Phelan, 1901-1904

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