The Irish Standard
The Northwestern standard (Minneapolis, Minn.) 1885-1886 Browse the title
The Irish standard (Minneapolis, Minn.) 1886-1920 Browse the title
On November 7, 1885, the first issue of the Northwestern Standard, an Irish-American newspaper was published in Minneapolis, Minnesota, by printers William Kilday, Benjamin McNally, and William Malone. By April 10, 1886, this group had sold its interests in the paper to Editor Edward O’Brien, who with his brother and business manager John rechristened the title the Irish Standard. The Democratic paper was an important source of information on Irish life and culture for the next 34 years. A Thirtieth Anniversary supplement issued in September 1915 has 188 pages of articles and advertising celebrating notable Irish Americans, Catholic churches and other institutions, businesses, and local history for cities and towns across Minnesota and North Dakota.
Irish-born Minnesotans made up 20 percent of the state’s foreign-born population in 1860, and their numbers grew rapidly with the expansion of the railroads and immigrant colonization and settlement programs. However, by 1890 when the Irish population peaked in Minnesota, they only made up 6 percent of the foreign-born population, and demand for an Irish-centered publication lessened. O’Brien subsequently worked to expand the Irish Standard’s reader base outside the state by soliciting areas with high Irish-born populations, distributing materials for the country’s largest Irish-American lobbying group - the Ancient Order of Hibernians - and promoting Catholic and Presbyterian content in regions without dedicated religious newspapers. With its broad readership, the Irish Standard came to focus primarily on national and international news, with smaller sections devoted to Minnesota news and church directories. The paper appeared in an eight-page, seven-column weekly format. Of greatest concern to O’Brien was the issue of Home Rule, or autonomous government for Ireland within the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland; thus, the Irish Standard published many editorials on the subject of British and Irish relations.
On March 15, 1913, Edward O’Brien announced that the Northern Printing and Publishing Company had purchased the Irish Standard and that John H. Sherlock was replacing him as editor. Sherlock retained the format familiar to the Irish Standard’s readers, and the paper’s contents reflected the complicated changes in Irish-British relations during World War I. An exhaustive editorial on August 8, 1914, titled “The Crisis in Europe,” details the origins of the war in political and military alliances established after 1870. The Irish Standard offered an alternative to the propagandistic reports more commonly found in newspapers at the time. Also notable and unusual were the numerous criticisms of President Woodrow Wilson for tolerating violations of international law by the British but not by the Germans. In fact, the Irish Standard actively resisted America’s entry into the war at a time when Wilson’s attacks on “hyphenated-Americans” caused uproar in Irish communities with some even promoting collaboration with Germany. However, when war with Germany appeared inevitable, the forceful editorial voice of the Irish Standard became more tempered. The Irish Standard supported the war effort after peace talks with Germany broke down. Editorials exalted the accomplishments of Irish soldiers, and the hyphenation issue was appropriated to push citizens to unify as “All-Americans”.
The expansive historical and political knowledge of the Irish Standard’s editors gives this title the distinction of featuring far more detailed coverage of international affairs than many of its contemporaries. In 1918, the Irish Standard even predicted the end of the First World War almost to the month. Following the war, the Irish Standard returned to its usual criticisms of British policies toward Ireland, reporting on the defeat of the Irish Parliamentary Party and Home Rule in 1918. This period of Irish independence is covered extensively through the last extant issue of the paper, which appeared on June 19, 1920.