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From the Cataloger’s Desk: Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

March 3, 2017

The IHS library recently received a large addition to one of our serial collections: … Annual St. Patrick’s Day Celebration …, asouvenir program issued by the Ancient Order of Hibernians, Kevin Barry Division #3, Indianapolis. Our holdings now represent the years 1950-2016, with only a small handful of exceptions.

The Ancient Order of Hibernians was founded in the United States on May 4, 1836, at St. James Church in New York City. Its aim was to protect the Catholic Church and its property, as well as Irish Catholic immigrants who faced prejudice and other hardships. Initially, the Order’s existence and activities were shrouded in secrecy due to anti-Catholic sentiments. Thanks in part to the bravery and sacrifice of many Irish soldiers during the Civil War, as well as the loyalty and charm of Irish women at home, attitudes began to change. Even so, the AOH grew and spread across the country, helping Irish immigrants obtain jobs and receive social services. A split occurred in 1884, resulting in separately governed organizations: AOH, Board of Erin and AOH in America. After years of conflict between the two, reconciliation was achieved in 1898 when the Board of Erin branch was reabsorbed into the American branch. Some bitterness lingered for a time; however, the Order stands united today as the largest Irish Catholic society in the world and the oldest Irish Catholic fraternal organization in America. It raises millions of dollars for charities, highlights positive contributions made by Irish Americans to our society and provides support for new immigrants.

The AOH formed in Indiana in 1871, and the Kevin Barry Division #3, Indianapolis, is one of the largest divisions in the country. The following description is given on their website: “We celebrate and promote Irish Catholic Culture in Indiana and support local and regional charities through monthly donations. Our charitable endeavors are funded through several special events and initiatives that members and friends of the division support. In addition to charitable donations, the Kevin Barry Division seeks to tighten bonds of friendship and unity among our members through various social events.” They also publish the … Annual St. Patrick’s Day Celebration …, a souvenir program that includes a wide range of information for the year: award and scholarship recipients, short biographies and histories, membership and officer rosters, memorials and tributes, songs and poems, photographs and advertisements, and much, much more. The main topic, of course, is St. Patrick’s Day and all of the special events planned to mark the occasion here in Indianapolis.

Whether you’re Irish or not, come visit the IHS library this March to view the latest addition to our collection. Learn about the Ancient Order of Hibernians, the Kevin Barry Division #3, and how St. Patrick’s Day was celebrated in Indianapolis many decades ago. And I promise we won’t pinch if you forget to wear green!

The catalog record for this serial collection can be found here.

Lindsay Borman is the cataloger of Printed Collections at the Indiana Historical Society. Her claim to fame: She can name all of the U.S. presidents ... in order!

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