The earliest example reporter Mark Bulik found dates to November 10, 1854, in a classified ad for a nanny.
“It was the first of many,” Bulik writes. “‘No Irish need apply’ turned up at least 29 times in Times classifieds advertising for jobs, and the sentiment was wider than the frequency of those exact words.”
Other phrasings – such as “Irish need not apply,” “Irishmen need not apply,” “No Irishman need apply,” and the more direct “No Irish,” turned up many more exampled in the Times’ archive search.
And those were only the cases where the word Irish was directly mentioned as opposed to implied.
Many more classifieds Bulik found stipulated that applicants be Protestant or American in order to be considered, discounting Irish-Catholic immigrants.
One column of classifieds from May 1, 1855, contained six consecutive ads that either stated “No Irish need apply” or specified that applicants must be Protestant:
The New York Times ads emerge as further proof against the argument held by American professor Richard Jensen, who has claimed for a number of years that “No Irish Need Apply” was a myth perpetuated by the Irish-American cultural imagination, and that NINA ads and signs barely existed in the mid-1800s to early 1900s.
This summer, Washington DC high school student Rebecca Fried presented a wealth of evidence to the contrary. In the Oxford Journal of Social Sciences, the same journal where Jensen first published his findings, Fried shared scores of example of “No Irish Need Apply” ads, which she had found by searching online databases of digitized newspaper archives.
Jensen has since argued against Fried’s findings, claiming that the amount she discovered would be of little consequence in the grand scheme of things. But with further examples found by everyone from IrishCentral readers to the New York Times, the proof of their existence – and prevalence – grows greater.