Mapping Ramcat’s Irish “Soupers”


Though I have always been a fan of both Google Maps and Earth, Windows Local Live offers a comparable product with quality “bird’s eye views” a la Google Earth without the cumbersome download. Much like Google Earth, Windows Local Live allows the placement of pushpins but its scratchpad feature enables hotlinks to photo urls or informational sites.

Having just read Dennis Clark’s essay ‘”Ramcat” and Rittenhouse Square: Related Communities,” in The Divided Metropolis: Social and Spatial Dimensions of Philadelphia, 1800-1975, I figured that Windows Local would serve as an excellent vehicle to map the relationships of some Irish Catholics to a Protestant outreach mission known as the Western Soup Society.

I’ve inserted some of the material borrowed from Clark’s essay regarding the tenant’s name, family size, and soup quantity requested during the winter of 1878-79 into Windows Local. Just click on the pushpin to get additional information. I’m going to attempt to photograph the extant homes and the Western Soup Society and link these photos also.

Just click here for the link.

This is just a basic demonstration using a couple Western patrons based on Clark’s primary research (although the register of the Western Soup Society does exist at Temple). His article, and this map present a picture of a markedly more hardscrabble neighborhood than what currently exists. We can imagine for a moment that for these three Irish soup patrons, the choice to accept basic sustenance from a Protestant organization involved great trepidation. As Clark writes: “To be a ‘souper’ was to risk the contempt of the rest of the Irish community…. To be forced to take Protestant soup after having resisted all manner of anti-Catholic intimidation in both Ireland and the United States was to accept a potion laced with gall (131).”

One thought on “Mapping Ramcat’s Irish “Soupers”

  1. I first learned of the “soupers” from the President of the RYAN CLAN (Australia). Genealogical research and family records revealed that my Irish ancestors were from County Tipp.
    The sad story of the soupers impacted my views of the Brits. My daughter (Jean) was outragaed at the injustice forced upon the early Irish.
    Nice website,
    T. J. Ryan

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