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Pictured at the handing over of three volumes of Irish Immigrants of the Enmigrant Industrial Savings Bank were, from left, Peter Beirne, Local Studies Centre Librarian; Clare Curtin, New York and Helen Walsh, Clare County Librarian.

Local studies centre banks new material

Clare Local Studies Centre in Ennis this week received a generous donation when New York-based Clare Harvey Curtin presented three volumes of Irish Immigrants of the Emigrant Industrial Savings Bank by Kevin J. Rich to Clare County Library.

The origins of the Savings Bank date to 1850 when John Hughes, the Roman Catholic Bishop of New York, prevailed on the Irish Emigrant Society to organize a safe deposit institution for the Irish community. The Emigrant Savings Bank was thus founded in New York and began accepting deposits in September 1850. The records span the period 1850 to 1880. The Test Books were used by the bank when a depositor wished to send money home, and as a practical identity test, especially for depositors who were illiterate.

The three index books presented by Clare Curtin are organized by year and the depositors are grouped under all surnames beginning with the same letter.

The records of the Emigrant Savings Bank are important for researchers of mid 19th century New York and the Irish community there. They show not only the complete names of parents, but also the names of siblings and often where they were domiciled. In the case of immigrants we learn the exact place of birth, the ship and port of arrival in America and often all their movements subsequent to that time. It is just the sort of extra detail, which delights researchers – especially those engaged in doing genealogical work.

Kevin J. Rich, as a labour of love, spent many years transcribing the records, thereby providing a valuable tool for researchers. Clare Curtin has Clare roots and is a regular visitor to the County. She has carried out extensive research on Assisted Emigration.

Clare has made several book donations to the Local Studies Centre over the last number of years. The recent donation is available for reference and research purposes at the Local Studies Centre on Harmony Row, Ennis. View www.clarelibrary.ie or telephone 065 6846271 for opening hours.

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