History ETDs

Publication Date

Spring 4-10-2018


In the latter half of the twentieth century, subsidized housing created a system of religious and racial segregation in the cities of Derry, Northern Ireland and South Boston, Massachusetts. In the following thesis, the housing projects of the Creggan Estates in Derry and the housing projects Old Colony and Old Harbor in South Boston will be the case studies for identifying the historical similarities between these two cities. By examining how the respective governments in each country used housing to achieve said segregation, it will help to identify why in the latter half of the twentieth century, Irish American Catholics fought against the African American Civil Rights Movement, while their Irish Catholic counterparts in Derry fought for their own civil rights.

The examination of official government documents is used to investigate how top officials viewed the Catholic areas in both cities. By uncovering if religion played a part in Protestant lawmakers reactions to housing shortages in Catholic neighborhoods, historians will be able to better understand why Protestant lawmakers seemingly chose to continue an antagonistic relationship between the Protestant and the Catholic communities. In Derry, housing projects served to reinforce the political imbalance between Catholics and Protestants. In Boston, low income Irish American Catholics were separated from African Americans of the same or lower income level in Roxbury and Jamaica Plain in the hopes that by separating the two groups, racial tensions would dissipate. Not only did these projects work to separate certain demographics of the population from one another, it created a sense of “us versus them,” which was one of the factors in these cities’ different reactions to civil rights issues in the 1960s and 1970s.

Level of Degree


Degree Name


Department Name


First Committee Member (Chair)

Caleb Richardson

Second Committee Member

Ryan Swanson

Third Committee Member

Charlie Steen




Irish, Irish American, Housing, Catholic, Protestant, Urban Renewal

Document Type