Sammie Samuels

Place of birth: South Bend, IN.

What is your profession? Director, Irish Railroad Workers Museum.

How do you celebrate your Irishness? I consider myself fortunate for the opportunity to reflect daily on the rich heritage of Irish immigrants whose contributions have significantly influenced the fabric of our nation. My role at the museum enables me to illuminate these captivating narratives, deepening both my appreciation for my ancestral roots and my role in preserving them. While learning the art of Irish lace making, I discovered that this is also a tradition upheld by my grandmother and great-grandmother, allowing me to connect deeper with my family history. For the last twenty years, I have also been dedicated to preserving and safeguarding my family's traditions by sharing them with my family and passing them on to my nieces, ensuring that their legacy endures.

Name a hero you admire and why? As someone who has faced rejection on my path to success, I am inspired by first wave feminists like Fanny Sellins, Leonora Barry, and Mary Kenny O'Sullivan. Despite risking their lives and defying societal norms that confined women to domestic roles, these courageous pioneers demanded rights and spaces for themselves. Their dedication and determination paved the way for major milestones like the 19th Amendment and the Equal Rights Amendment and left a lasting impact on the nation. Though time has obscured some of their contributions, their efforts remind me that opportunities like pursuing an education, voting, and receiving fair pay were all made possible by the groundwork they laid. Their determination and perseverance in the face of dangerous animosity reminds me of what a woman can accomplish in this country if she steadfastly believes in her cause.

Something people would be surprised to know about me... My tendency to learn new skills whenever I move to a new place often surprises people. For instance, when I first relocated to Baltimore for work, I taught myself to crochet. Now I am learning to make intricate Irish lace using that technique. This habit not only connects me with new communities, but also broadens my horizons. As a result, I have an exceptionally wide range of interests.

Biography: In her role as the Director of the Irish Railroad Workers Museum, Sammie Samuels values the role that museums play in preserving cultural heritage and sharing historical stories. With a diverse professional background spanning five years and various roles, she has been promoting public engagement to enhance people's understanding of our cultural landscape.

Sammie holds a Master of Arts in Museum Studies from Johns Hopkins, a Bachelor of Science in Biology from Midway University, and a Bachelor of Arts in Applied Anthropology from UNC Charlotte. When she’s not promoting Irish heritage in America, Sammie enjoys baking, reading, and watching rugby.

2024 Heroes of Irish America Awards