George D. Cahill papers
- 1845-circa 1921
- Majority of material found within 1870 - 1890
Scope and Contents
The George D. Cahill papers contain correspondence to and from Cahill in his capacity as a local leader of several Irish nationalist organizations, including the Fenian Brotherhood, the Irish National Land League of the United States, and the Irish National League of America. The collection includes fliers, circulars, published speeches, and ephemera related to Irish causes, as well as membership and financial records for the organizations with which Cahill was involved. Correspondence and organizational records reveal the everyday activities of these organizations, especially of the Fenian Brotherhood and its ill-fated newspaper venture, the Irish National Publishing Company. The organizations' financial affairs, social events, and meetings are well-documented, as is their factionalism, infighting, and political maneuvering. Other Irish organizations such as the Clan-na-Gael, the United Irish Brotherhood, and the Combined Irish-American Societies of Massachusetts are represented in these papers, although more sparsely.
Notable correspondents include Patrick Andrew Collins, William M. Curry, Mary Francis Cusack (Nun of Kenmare), Thomas B. Fitz, Anthony A. Griffin, John W. Keogh, Francis F. Millen, Jeremiah O'Donovan Rossa, John O'Mahony, John Boyle O'Reilly, Joseph W. Paul, and George F. Train. The papers date from 1845 to circa 1921. Publications in the collection dating from after Cahill's death in 1893 may have been collected by the collection's donor, D. A. Brosnan, and also relate to Irish issues.
- Cahill, George D. (Person)
Language of Materials
This collection is mostly in English, with a few items in Irish.
Restrictions on access
Collection is open for research.
Restrictions on use
Though the copyright interests have not been transferred to Boston College, most of the items in the collection are in the public domain.
George D. Cahill (circa 1820-1893) was born in Ireland on April 24 to Peter Cahill and Mary O’Neil. By 1850 he was in Quincy, Massachusetts, working as a bootmaker, and in 1852 he became a naturalized United States citizen. His first wife, Mary Moriarty, died in 1861, and he was remarried in 1868 to Mary Preston. In the 1870s, Cahill was working as a grocer in Quincy. He was active in local Irish organizations, acting in a variety of positions in the Fenian Brotherhood, including Shawmut District Centre (leader), Quincy Centre, member of the financial committee, and secretary. In 1881 he helped found the Quincy branch of the Irish National Land League, and in 1883 was one of the founding members of the Irish National League of America, Quincy branch. He served as secretary for both organizations. After retiring from the grocery business, Cahill worked as the sexton of St. John’s Church in Quincy. According to his obituary in the Boston Globe, Cahill, who had been ill, died December 30, 1893 after collapsing at a city council meeting. It was noted that he was one of Quincy’s best known citizens and a staunch Democrat. In relation to his work with the Irish National Land League, Cahill was described as “a ready debater and writer.”
“Death of George Cahill.” Boston Daily Globe, December 31, 1893.
1850 United States Federal Census Roll. Publication M432, Roll 331, page 264B, image 488. Ancestry.com. Accessed May 27, 2010.
1860 United States Federal Census Roll. Publication M653, Roll 514, image 121. Ancestry.com. Accessed May 27, 2010.
1870 United States Federal Census Roll. Publication M593, Roll 636, page 97B, image 202. Ancestry.com. Accessed May 27, 2010.
1880 United States Federal Census Roll. Publication T9, Roll 549, page 148B, image 0108. Ancestry.com. Accessed May 27, 2010.
George D. Cahill Papers, MS.1993.041, John J. Burns Library, Boston College.
Index to New England Naturalization Petitions, 1791-1906. Washington, D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration (NARA). Microfilm serial 1299, roll 56. Ancestry.com. Accessed May 27, 2010.
New England Historic Genealogical Society. “Massachusetts Town and Vital Records,1841-1910, vol. 437, p. 549.” NewEnglandAncestors.org. Accessed May 27 2010.
The Fenian Brotherhood was the American branch of the Irish Republican Brotherhood, founded by James Stephens in Ireland in 1858. In the United States, the Fenian Brotherhood was led by John O’Mahony and Michael Doheny. Local groups were called “Circles,” and their leader designated the “Centre.” Fenians raised money and purchased arms to send back to Ireland, and in 1866 and 1870 led two failed invasions of Canada. Plagued by infighting and factionalism, the organization gradually dwindled until its formal disbanding in 1886.
The Irish National Land League of the United States was the American arm of the Irish National Land League, which aimed to reduce unfair rents in Ireland and help tenant farmers buy their land. It was founded in Ireland in 1879, with Charles Stewart Parnell as president. A Boston, Massachusetts branch was organized in 1880, and a Quincy branch established in 1881. In 1883 at the Philadelphia Convention the Irish National Land League and the Irish National League of America merged under the name of the Irish National League of America.
The Irish National League was founded in October 1882 in Ireland by Charles Stewart Parnell after the suppression of the Irish National Land League there. An earlier organization with the name of the Irish National League of America may have existed as early as 1880; in 1883, the Irish National League of America subsumed the Irish National Land League of the United States, as outlined above.
The Irish National Publishing Company was established in 1873 in New York, N.Y. and published two newspapers, the American Gael and the New York Sunday Citizen. Despite backing from members of the Fenian Brotherhood and high aims of “beautifully printed matter” appealing to “Irishmen of education, general respectability, or intelligent patriotism,” the business suffered managerial and financial setbacks and was sold at a sheriff’s auction in New York in October 1874. It was sold twice more in 1875, but continued to publish through 1876.
Fenian Brotherhood Records and O'Donovan Rossa Personal Papers. The American Catholic History Research Center and University Archives, accessed December 13, 2012. https://libraries.catholic.edu/special-collections/archives/collections/finding-aids/finding-aids.html?file=fenian
Francis B. Gallagher collection of Fenian Brotherhood records, 1862-1870 (MC 14). Philadelphia Archdiocesan Research Center, accessed December 13, 2012, https://chrcphila.pastperfectonline.com/archive/5EAC9057-E1BF-4CEA-A2A0-044612391740
George D. Cahill Papers, MS.1993.041, John J. Burns Library, Boston College.
Greeley, Horace. Tribune Almanac and Political Register, 229. New York: Tribune Association, 1891.
“The Irish Land League.” Boston Daily Globe, April 24, 1880.
“A Union of Irishmen: the Irish National League of America.” New York Times, April 28, 1883.
Villanova University Falvey Memoral Library. “Torn Between Brothers: A Look at the Internal Divisions that Weakened the Fenian Brotherhood,” 2011, accessed December 13, 2012, http://exhibits.library.villanova.edu/torn-between-brothers-a-look-at-the-internal-division-that-weake/
4.25 Linear Feet (7 containers)
The George D. Cahill papers consist of the personal papers of a Quincy, Mass. merchant active in Irish-American causes in the late nineteenth century. The collection contains correspondence, fliers, circulars, published speeches, and ephemera, as well as membership and financial records for Irish nationalist organizations including the Fenian Brotherhood, the Irish National Land League of the United States, and the Irish National League of America, among others. The papers date from 1845 to circa 1921 (bulk 1870-1890).
This collection is arranged alphabetically in seven series: I. Correspondence and personal papers; II. Fenian Brotherhood; III. Irish National Land League of the United States; IV. Irish National League of America; V. Irish National Publishing Company; VI. Other Irish organizations; VII. Publications and ephemera.
Donated by D. A. Brosnan, June 1928.
Printed materials were transferred to the Irish Folders collection of the John J. Burns Library.
This collection was reprocessed in December 2012 by Adrienne Pruitt and Shelley Barber. Inaccurate dates, name identifications, and descriptions were revised and the collection was reorganized. Information about the collection's accession was removed to the control file. Dates were supplied for some undated items according to internal evidence.
- Cahill, George D.
- Curry, William M.
- Cusack, Mary Francis, 1829-1899
- Fenian Brotherhood
- Griffin, Anthony A.
- Irish National Land League of the United States
- Irish National League of America
- Irish National Publishing Company
- Irish Republican Brotherhood
- Keogh, John W.
- Millen, F. F. (Francis F.)
- O'Donovan Rossa, Jeremiah, 1831-1915
- O'Mahony, John, 1816-1877
- O'Reilly, John Boyle, 1844-1890
- Paul, Joseph W.
- Train, George Francis, 1829-1904
- George D. Cahill Papers
- 1845-circa 1921
- Brendan Patrick Coffey
- August 1993
- Description rules
- Describing Archives: A Content Standard
- Language of description
- Script of description