Imirce provides access to thousands of letters, memoirs and other documents composed by Irish emigrants to North America from the seventeenth through the mid-twentieth centuries. This resource was made possible by an extraordinary gift of historian Kerby A. Miller, Curators’ Professor of History at the University of Missouri (emeritus), to the University of Galway where he holds an honorary professorship in History. For scholars of Irish and North American history, Imirce is an enduring connection, across time, to generations of emigrants, while for the descendants of those emigrants it is an opportunity to reconnect, across the broad Atlantic, with the home that they left behind.

Imirce is a two-part project. The first part involves making the Kerby A. Miller Collection available in an online database beginning on 7 March 2024 and finishing before the end of that calendar year. The second part involves collecting and transcribing additional emigrant letters and memoirs composed in North America and adding them to the database. The Imirce team is particularly eager to source material in Irish and material, in Irish or English, written by people from Irish-speaking districts.



From the early 1970s, when researching what became his landmark Emigrants and Exiles: Ireland and the Irish Exodus to North America (Oxford, 1985), Miller transcribed writings by emigrants from Ireland to North America held in libraries and archives. And looking beyond those repositories, he placed notices in Irish national and local newspapers asking people to send him treasured correspondence which he and research assistants then copied, transcribed and returned. Following publication of Emigrants and Exiles, Miller continued to collect such material. The result is a vast collection of transcripts of the writings of craftsmen, especially weavers and spinners, miners, domestic servants, farmers, and canal, railroad, mill and construction workers; the material dates from the late 1600s through the mid-1900s.

Included in the collection are transcripts of correspondence collected in the 1950s-60s by historian Arnold Schrier when working on his Ireland and the American Migration, 1850–1900 (Minneapolis, 1958), and by historian E. R. R. (Rodney) Green, director of the Institute of Irish Studies at the Queen’s University-Belfast; both Schrier and Green subsequently shared their materials with Miller. The University of Galway also holds research data compiled by Kerby A. Miller when working on items in the collection. All the materials described above can be consulted in the University Library.

In addition, in 2003 Miller and Schrier, in collaboration with scholars Bruce D. Boling and David Noel Doyle, published an edited collection of letters and other documents written by emigrants who left Ireland between 1660 and 1815, titled Irish Immigrants in the Land of Canaan (Oxford, 2003). Some of those materials are also in the Miller Collection at the Hardiman Library; the remainder are in the Bobst Library at New York University.



Project Leadership
  • Prof Daniel Carey, Professor of English, School of English and Creative Arts

  • Dr Cillian Joy, Head of Open and Digital Research, University of Galway Library 

  • Prof Breandán Mac Suibhne, Director, Acadamh na hOllscolaíochta Gaeilge

Collection and Database Development Team
  • Kieran Hoare, Archivist

  • David Kelly, Digital Humanities Manager

  • Marie-Louise Rouget, Digital Archivist

Research Support
  • Liam Alex Heffron, Postdoctoral Researcher (Autumn 2023)

Project Advisors
University of Galway Library
  • Catriona Cannon, Head of Heritage Collections and Digitisation

  • Aisling Keane, Digital Archivist

  • Eileen Kennedy, Library Digital Experience Developer

College of Arts, Social Sciences and Celtic Studies
  • Marie-Louise Coolahan, School of English, Media and Creative Arts

  • Enrico dal Lago, School of History and Philosophy

  • Kerby A. Miller, School of History and Philosophy (honorary)

  • Séamus Ó Briain, Acadamh na hOllscolaíochta Gaeilge

Collaborators and Transcribers

Kerby A. Miller had the invaluable assistance of the late Bruce D. Boling and the late David Noel Doyle, at the University of New Mexico and University College Dublin, respectively, in locating, transcribing, and (for the documents in Irish) translating Irish emigrants’ letters, memoirs, and other documents. Also, Miller and Arnold Schrier had the help of research assistants, who transcribed materials now available on Imirce. Miller’s research assistants included Diana Ahmad, Beth Ruffin MacIntyre, Randy McBee, Rod McHugh and Rebecca Swaters. Schrier had the assistance of Cynthia Chermly, Laura Dauer and Tillian Spitz.


Content Disclaimer

As is often the case with material from this period, a small proportion of the materials in the Imirce digital collection include prejudicial attitudes or language that does not reflect the current views or positions of the University of Galway Library. These have not been removed from the collection or censored. They constitute historical evidence of the subjects’ biases and prejudices that accurately reflect the times in which they lived. Individual user discretion is advised when exploring the contents of the digital collection.

Takedown Policy

Materials in Imirce are made available as open educational resources. All reasonable efforts have been made to ensure that the resources published on Imirce are of high quality, authentic and correctly attributed teaching or learning materials that are in keeping with the University of Galway’s Code of Conduct. For detailed information and how to report an issue concerning a breach in copyright, permissions or privacy please see our Digital Collections Takedown Policy.

User Policy

The image assets and descriptive metadata in Imirce are subject to the University of Galway Library’s user policy that outlines the conditions for their appropriate use and citation. For detailed information, please refer to the Digital Collections User Policy.