Rob O'Sullivan

PhD Candidate

I am a 3rd year PhD student at the University of Cambridge working with Professor Gary Gerstle. I work on the history of Irish-American newspaper editors and their reporting on European imperialism and revolutionary nationalism, 1840-1865. My PhD examines how different papers constructed a sense of identity, and shaped a collective understanding of Irish history, through commentaries in the Irish-American press on European nationalism, anti-Catholicism and imperialism. I explore how Irish-American journalists debated major global events, such as the 1848 Revolutions, the Hungarian nationalist movement and Kossuth’s tour of the USA, the Crimean War, the Opium Wars, the Indian Rebellion of 1857, and Italian Unification, and how these events shaped how Irish-Americans understood what it meant to be an Irish in the United States. My work also considers how these global events contextualised how the Irish-American newspapers experienced domestic developments, from the Mexican War until the Civil War. 

I completed a Cambridge Trust funded MPhil (2020) at the University of Cambridge, looking at the commentaries of Irish-Catholics in the United States before 1845 on the Greek War of Independence (1821-1832) and Poland's Revolution of 1830–31 against the Russian Empire. I received my BA in History from Cambridge University in 2019. My undergraduate thesis won the Gladstone Memorial Prize for the most meritorious Part II dissertation submitted by a candidate in the Faculty of Economics, Faculty of History and Department of Politics and International Studies, and the Junior Sara Norton Prize for the best Undergraduate Dissertation in American History.

I am the Student Convenor of the Modern Irish History Seminar. In 2021-22, I was a co-Convenor of the Cambridge History of Memory and Emotions Workshop.

Research Interests:

American History

Modern European History

Modern Irish History

Global history





Print and Media


I would be happy to supervise papers in American and European history, in both Part 1A and Part 1. 


6th Annual Cambridge-Edinburgh Early Career Researchers Conference on Modern Irish History: University of Edinburgh: 'Spanish American Independence, the Greek War of Independence and the Polish Revolution in the collective memory of American Irish Catholics, 1820-1845: remembrance, republicanism and repeal in the United States'

World History Postgraduate Workshop Cambridge: ‘The First Opium War and the Irish-American Repeal Press, 1801-1845’

“Constitutions and Crises” Conference Faculty of History, University of Cambridge (Co-Convenor): ‘God save the American Nation from traitors’: the American Constitution and the Irish-American press’

‘The History and Legacy of the Reconstruction Amendments’, Rothermere American Institute Oxford University: The Irish-American Press, Radical Reconstruction and the Fourteenth Amendment’

Cambridge University Modern Irish History Seminar: ‘The Irish American Press, the American Civil War, and the Emancipation Proclamation, 1861-1865’

Co-Convening, with Professor Eugenio Biagini and Professor Colin Barr, a Conference with the University of Notre Dame in Summer 2023, Title TBC.

Key publications

'The 1844 Philadelphia Bible Riots and the American Irish Catholic press', Pennsylvania History: A Journal of Mid-Atlantic Studies (2022) 89 (2): 194–226.

'Greece, Poland and the construction of American Irish-Catholic identity in the New York Truth Teller, 1820-1845', Journal of American Ethnic History, vol.42, no.2 (2023), 77-111.

'Repeal, Revolution, Abolitionism: the formation of Irish-American identity, 1840-1845', Éire-Ireland, 57: 3&4 Fall/Winter 2022 (2022), 141-169.