Government Relief and Private Charity during the Great Hunger with Karen Sonnelitter

The tragedy of the Great Hunger occurred at the heart of the vast, and resource-rich, British Empire. The imperial government, however, chose not to use its resources to come to the aid of the Irish poor. The degree to which the British government was responsible for this disaster is still debated among historians. This talk will examine the extent to which people mobilized to provide money, food and clothing to assist the starving Irish. Reports of the disaster prompted fund-raising on an unprecedented scale, which cut across religious, ethnic, social and gender distinctions, with donations coming from as far away as Australia, China, India and South America. The ideological context in which both charity and poor relief existed will also be briefly examined.

Karen Sonnelitter is Associate Professor of History at Siena College, Loudonville, New York. She completed her doctorate at Purdue University. This talk is the second in our new Great Hunger series to commemorate the 175th Anniversary of Black '47.