[Return to the Table of Contents]

Register of the Papers of



12 ft.

MSS 37


Amy McKune

April 1983


Dennis Clark (b. 1927), historian, author, and administrator, has devoted much of his life to studying the Irish and Irish-Americans.  Dr. Clark received the B.A. from St. Joseph's University and both the M.A. and Ph.D. degrees from Temple University.  He has published eight books, the more recent of which deal with immigrant life, and especially the mobility of Irish immigrants in urban society, including three studies of the Irish in Philadelphia.  Dr. Clark is executive director of the Samuel S. Fels Fund, Philadelphia.


The Dennis Clark Papers have been donated to the Balch Institute by Dr. Clark.  The collection is open and has been added to regularly since the first donation in 1972.  New accessions have averaged approximately 2 linear feet per year.


The Dennis Clark Papers (7 boxes, 1 scrapbook, 1 oversize folder) consist of research materials which he has collected in his work on the Irish and Irish-Americans.  They are made up primarily of newspaper clippings and other printed materials, although they include a small amount of correspondence, drafts of his publications, and eight cassette tapes entitled "Irish Voices," used in the writing of The Irish Relations.  Of special interest are photocopies of the letter book of Thomas Beach (alias Henri Le Caron, a British spy who worked against the Irish revolutionary organizations in the U.S. from 1866 to 1889), research materials on Luke Dillon, articles by Owen B. Hunt, and newspaper clippings and articles on the problems in Northern Ireland.

This collection as of December 1988 included five and one half cubic feet of materials dealing with the Irish community in Philadelphia.  The materials largely deal with the Irish community in the mid-twentieth century.  They include about two hundred biographical notes, profiles and obituaries of Irish Americans in the Philadelphia area whose lives and very diverse careers reflect the pursuits and lifestyles of the Irish in local life.  These provide an excellent source for the composition of a social portrait of this subcultural community.

There are several folders of organizational materials from the Saint Patrick's Day Observance Association, the American Conference for Irish Studies, the Irish American Cultural Institute, the Friendly Sons of Saint Patrick, the Center for Irish Studies, and other groups such as the Donegal Society which was the subject of a history for its centenary in 1988; this was written by Dennis Clark and entitled The Heart's Own People.  There are several hundred items that include notices of Irish community events, flyers, posters, reports, newspaper notices and a wide range of ephemera that reflect the activities of Irish groups in the city over a period of thirty years.  Newspaper articles about the Irish are included.

One and a half feet of materials deal with the reactions of the Philadelphia Irish to the crisis in Northern Ireland beginning in 1969.  These include flyers, meeting notices, press releases, court transcripts, Irish American newspaper coverage, letters to Philadelphia newspapers, editorials, articles, and material from diverse sources describing opinions and activities of the Philadelphia Irish in response to British and Irish government actions, IRA activity and proposed solutions to the area's problems.

The collection also includes biographical material about prominent Philadelphia figures such as Michael J. Ryan, Luke Dillon, William Bradley and Owen B. Hunt.  There are some family letters and genealogical material, poems of Padraic Lagan, and a memoir by Patrick O'Callaghan.

The personal papers of Dennis Clark include correspondence, manuscripts, research notes, numerous reviews of books and his articles that appeared in Irish Edition, a monthly Irish American newspaper which is also received by the Library of the Balch Institute.  Also present are a travel diary, and photocopies of research articles and of primary materials.

These additions have not been processed but are available for examination by researchers.

The box list of the Register of the Papers of Dennis Clark is seven pages long.