The General Relief Committee of New York Project

“‘Let Ireland’s extremity be America’s opportunity to teach the nations a magnificent lesson in human brotherhood by her mighty deeds of brotherly love.’”

-The General Relief Committee of New York

(General Relief Committee of New York 1848, 15)

What is the GRC Project?

This project prototype was created by Northeastern University graduate student Anna Halgash in satisfaction of Northeastern’s Graduate Certificate in Digital Humanities. It concerns the General Relief Committee of New York (GRC). The committee formed to collect American donations for the Irish Famine (1845-1852), which were then to be processed by the Society Of Friends (Quakers) in Dublin. The GRC project consists of a WordPress website that hosts a data set created from a static PDF of the GRC 1848 report, which contains a record of their donations collected from approximately February 8th, 1847 to February 2nd, 1848. The GRC was short-lived and dissolved in 1848, likely due to the slowing of international donations by late 1847 (Kinealy 2013, 106). Few scholars have addressed the subject of international donations towards the Famine. My historical research was very dependent on the existing work of Irish historian Christine Kinealy. I, as the project author, seek to join this conversation and contribute to this scholarship with data that can be used by researchers. Beyond elaborating on the American response to the Famine, I also want my project to emphasize the international context surrounding the Famine and expand it beyond the political and economic narratives that typically focus on Britain only.

Why the GRC Project?

This project investigates the donation patterns of the GRC’s first month of monetary donations (excluding food and provisions). International aid for the Irish Famine is a neglected historical subject. American aid was especially intriguing considering the nation’s close connection to Ireland due to the significant amount of Irish immigration even before the Famine. By analyzing the initial donations of the GRC, this project explores how data visualizations and quantitative data can reveal trends and patterns of identity that strengthen scholarship that otherwise focuses on event summary and themes.