When the Nebraska State Board of Health released statistics in December 1912 on various aspects of life in this state, it probably didn’t expect to provoke any controversy.
When the Nebraska State Board of Health released statistics in December 1912 on various aspects of life in this state, it probably didn’t expect to provoke any controversy. However, the Omaha Daily News on December 25, under the headline “No Irish Babies Born in Nebraska,” took the board to task for its failure to include the Irish in its list of the birth rates of various ethnic groups in Nebraska. The board’s statistics indicated that there were 26,697 births reported during the year 1912. Of these 13,783 were male and 12,914 female. “Americans” had the most births, 21,869; with considerably lesser numbers reported for other nationalities, including Germans, Scandinavians, “Bohemians,” and the British. Entirely missing was a separate category for the Irish, who could not have been more unhappy over the report had it appeared on St. Patrick’s Day.
“According to Omaha Irishmen,” said the Daily News, “this is a grave and slanderous error and they will have the records corrected or at least see hereafter that the Irish are classed separately. . . . “‘What do they think we are, South Sea Islanders or cannibals,’ demanded [Nebraska legislator] John E. Reagan today. ‘I suppose they have included us among the British or the Indians or some other class. I am going to investigate and have it corrected.’ “‘It is a base slander on our race and I will not stand for it. The Irish have just as many babies as anyone else and more. I repeat, I will not stand for it. It is an insult,’ said Jerry Howard.” Howard, born in Limerick, Ireland, represented Omaha in the Nebraska House of Representatives in 1909 and from 1915 to 1919. He died in 1930, remembered as an Irish patriot and “friend of the working man and working girl.”
St. Patrick’s Day souvenir postcard. NSHS 10146-169-(3)