Summary Information
Title: Donohoe Family Papers
Collection Number: AIS.1977.13
Creator: Donohoe family

Collection Dates: 1851-1865
Extent: 0.31 linear feet

Language: English

Collection comprises correspondence to Thomas Donohoe, Blairsville, Indiana County (Pa.), from his family in Ballyellin, County Carlow, Ireland. Subjects include family events; economic conditions; social conditions; state of harvests; prices of crops and produce; rates for labor; and the Civil War in the United States. Digital reproductions of the collection are available online.

ULS Archives Service Center
University of Pittsburgh Library System
7500 Thomas Boulevard
Pittsburgh, PA, 15260
Date Published:

October 23, 1980

Finding aid prepared by Archives Service Center staff. Revisions occurred to the finding aid as a part of the encoding process on March 4, 2004.
Revision Description:
July 1, 2006:
Converted from EAD Version 1.0 to EAD Version 2002

Collection Scope and Content Notes

This collection consists of original letters that span the period 1851-1865, written by the brothers and sisters of Thomas Donohoe, who had emigrated from Ballyellin, Ireland, to Blairsville, Indiana County, Pa. The correspondence highlights family events and comments on the economic and social conditions of the time in Ireland. Other topics include: fluctuations in the weather, harvests, prices of crops and produce, wage rates for labor, railroad building activity, and comments on the Civil War in America. All letters are addressed to Thomas Donohoe and arranged chronologically. Abstracts of the letters are provided in the contents list. No replies from T. Donohue are included in the collection.

Subject Terms

  • Families -- Ireland -- Carlow (County) -- History
  • Food prices -- Ireland -- Carlow (County) -- History
  • Harvesting -- Ireland -- Carlow (County) -- History
  • Irish -- Ireland -- Carlow (County) -- Correspondence
  • Irish Americans -- Pennsylvania -- Indiana County -- History
  • Labor -- Ireland -- Carlow (County) -- History
  • Produce trade -- Ireland -- Carlow (County) -- History

Family Names
  • Donohoe family

  • Blairsville (Pa.) -- Genealogy
  • Carlow (Ireland : County) -- Genealogy
  • Ireland -- Economic conditions
  • Ireland -- Social conditions
  • United States -- History -- Civil War, 1861-1865 -- Foreign public opinion, Irish

  • Ethnic groups
  • Personal papers

Access and Use
Access Restrictions:

No restrictions.

Acquisition Information:

The Archives Service Center received the collection from the Irish Centre of Pittsburgh in 1977.

Alternate Format:

This collection has been microfilmed (one reel) but has also been digitized with online access provided in the finding aid.

Custodial History:

The collection was originally donated to the Irish Centre of Pittsburgh by the granddaughter of Thomas Donohoe on September 8, 1966.

Preferred Citation:

Donohoe Family Papers, 1851-1865, AIS.1977.13, Archives Service Center, University of Pittsburgh

Processing Information:

This collection was processed by Archives Service Center staff on October 23, 1980.


No copyright restrictions.

Collection Inventory

Box 1
Folder 1 From sister, B. Donohoe (Ballyellin, Ireland), August 1851

Family affairs; other Irish families preparing to emigrate to America; good corn crop this year.

Folder 2 From unknown (Ballyellin, Ireland), March 1853

One of the wettest winters; 3 ft. flood; uncommonly warm; wheat sown in Dec. and green above ground in a fortnight; last years short crops; potato crop worst in years; laboring classes badly off; machines replacing people; proposed construction of a railroad, its route and probable effect on economy; family affairs; relates of a Mrs. Nolan who returned from Far West in America to Ireland and who reports favorably on the soil and climate of Dubuque.

Folder 3 From brother, M. Donohoe (Ballyellin, Ireland), February 20, 1855

Notes he hears of the bad state of the working class in America, particularly the Irish; life in Ireland best in the last 2 years than in the past 20; prices high, crops good; severest frost and snow in 40 years; froze the river Barrow in places; railway under construction; expected competition for required labor needs will increase rate of wages; people sick with colds, influenza; number of deaths; identifies the deaths of several individuals; relates deaths, marriage, personal and economic condition of family and friends.

Folder 4 From brother, Edward Donohoe (Ballyellin, Ireland), June 12, 1857

Comment on TD's return trip to America which took 29 days in crossing; conditions in Ireland bad with the poor starving and farmers not much better off; emigration at same ratio as previously; crop prospects look good (wheat, corn, carrots, turnips, potatoes); had to respond to an order of ejectment; discussion of local ejectment orders; recounts funeral and estate of Father Brennan; news from Mick Doherty in Cleveland; asks to be remembered to a number of members of the Maher family in Blairsville as well as to Margaret Nolan and Mary Dowling.

Folder 5 From sister, B. Donohoe (Ballyellin, Ireland), July 3, 1857

Writes of ejectment served on father; received a letter from a Captain Wilkin, who had returned from India; Mick Doherty of Cleveland and his grocers store.

Folder 6 From brother, M. Donohoe, 1857

One of the best years for laborers in MD's memory; gives average wage rates for railway laborers, stone cleavers, masons/stone cutters, servant boys; crop yield average except for potato crop which was worse than in the last 2 or 3 years; gives prices for produce (wheat, barley, oats, cattle and sheep, beef, mutton, butter as well as cost of pigs and horses; comments on the railroad construction; supplies social information on friends; remarks on the return of a chap called Cady who had once been in service and who had gone to America to join his uncles who had settled there 30 years earlier and who had made an immense fortune which passed to Cady as sole possessor and with which Cady returned and bought a farm for 600 pounds and an additional 900 pounds for crops and stock; tells of Joseph Hughes leaving for Australia.

Folder 7 From sister, B. Donohoe, Gores Bridge, December 23, 1857

Reports of death of Aunt Fanny and BD's having inherited the land, crops, and house; discusses problems and litigation with tenants; comments on delayed plan of family and friends to emigrate.

Folder 8 From brother, Edward Donohoe (Ballyellin, Ireland), November 28, 1859

Comments on social activities in community; notes he has been overly optimistic on crop outlook when he had written in August; potato blight of a new sort which made them unusable for human consumption; price of grain increasing very fast; insufficient fodder for animals; remarks on the Chicago fire and having received a copy of a Chicago newspaper which detailed the tragedy; also received several papers from New York; political commentary; railroad construction continuing in face of a labor scarcity.

Folder 9 From brother, Michael Donohoe (Ballyellin, Ireland), February 9, 1862

Congratulates TD on his recent marriage; wet and cold summer with a poor harvest; in some parts of the country a famine; in home, county affairs are not in as dire straits; rents being regularly paid and land lords are not allowing a penny in the way of abatement; speaks of family; tells of business expenses, lawyer's fees, and asks for consideration paid in the future.

Folder 10 From brother, Edward Donohoe (Ballyellin, Ireland), July 3, 1862

Alludes to quarrel among him, his brother and father; very wet, damp June which has caused stunting of crops; great distress among the lower classes; labour supply scarce but more than enough to meet the demand; farmers and men of capital turning their land into pasture; a famine in many parts of Ireland; remarks on aid in hundreds and thousands of dollars from America to the Central Committee in Dublin for relief purposes; reflects on the Civil War in America; notes that some letters from the South escape the blockade and they give a different interpretation of events than is reported in the Northern press; remarks on purported mediation efforts of England and France; notes high value of land in Ireland; passes requests from friends and neighbors for information on relatives in America.

Folder 11 From brother, Edward Donohoe (Ballyellin, Ireland), October 5, 1862

Responding to letter of 11 Aug.; comments on Civil War events; questions relying on the New York press; notes that all eyes there are focused on the American War; apprehensive about the safety of TD; notes that a relative will not join TD until events are clarified; requests information on the draft; perceives that there is a growing dislike by the American public and that the opinion is that Abraham Lincoln and his government will be superseded; average corn crop in Ireland; wheat of poor quality and selling at low price; social note on several marriages.

Folder 12 From brother, Edward Donohoe (Ballyellin, Ireland), February 16, 1865

Tells of his recent illness diagnosed as "disease of the heart"; medical examination and prescribed regimen (medicine, diet, etc.).