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Abstract

People use material culture and its associated symbolism to express collective identities. The aim of this paper is to illuminate class and religious conflict and negotiation between Irish Catholic immigrants, the American Roman Catholic Church, mainstream native-born Americans, and various Protestant cohorts in New York City between 1850 and 1870. To do this I explore the social meaning and significance embedded within a refined white earthenware teacup decorated with the image of Father Theobald Mathew. The cup was discovered during excavation of a mid- to late-19th-century, predominantly Irish immigrant section of New York City known as the Five Points.

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