American Irish Historical Society
The American Irish Historical Society is a historical society devoted to Irish American history, founded in Boston in 1897. The Society's 50 founding members included Theodore Roosevelt, who was part-Irish (on his mother's side). The Society's formal purpose, as stated on its web site, is: "to place permanently on record the story of the Irish in America from the earliest settlement to the present day, justly, impartially, fully, and sympathetically correcting neglect and misrepresentation by certain historians of the part taken in the founding, upbuilding and safeguarding of the Nation by persons of Irish birth and descent." Notable members through the years have included politician William Bourke Cockran, tenor John McCormack, New York Governor Hugh Carey, and performer/composer George M. Cohan. In 1940, the Society moved to a Beaux-Arts townhouse on Fifth Avenue in New York City, which it still occupies.
The society headquarters is at 991 Fifth Avenue, opposite the Metropolitan Museum of Art. The headquarters reopened March 16, 2008, after a two-year restoration undertaken by Lawrence Group Architects and MOS Construction led by Michael O'Sullivan. A series of cultural and scholarly events were planned to mark reopening in the Spring of 2008. The Library & Archives of the Society remain closed to the public until further notice. Scholars and researchers are encouraged to schedule an appointment in order to view selected archives and rare books.
The Society hosts cultural and historical events, publishes a journal entitled The Recorder, and annually awards a Gold Medal to an Irish-American or Irish-national of significant accomplishment. Past honorees have included mystery writer Mary Higgins Clark, Daniel Patrick Moynihan, Ronald Reagan, and Bono from the rock group U2. In March 2009, a wake for actress Natasha Richardson, wife of Irish actor Liam Neeson, was held at the Society.
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