Primary Documents

James P. Sullivan, Irish-American Olympian

James P. Sullivan

James P. Sullivan

Courtesy of Brian and Terry Sullivan. Archives of Irish America, New York University. © 2009 ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

In the opening years of the twentieth century, a young Irish-American from Brooklyn, New York held the record for the fastest mile by a native-born runner. James P. Sullivan (1885–1965), a member of the Irish American Athletic Club, was selected to represent the United States at the 1906 Intercalated Games in Athens, Greece and at the 1908 Olympic Games in London, England.

Our Flickr exhibit contains five sections:

  1. Mile Record Holder
  2. Irish American Athletic Club
  3. 1906 Olympic Games Athens
  4. 1908 Olympic Games London
  5. Epilogue

The following related material is also available online:

James P. Sullivan and fellow U.S. Olympic team members were photographed at the House of Commons in London by Sir (John) Benjamin Stone on July 29, 1908. These are now part of the collections of the National Portrait Gallery and can been seen at

For more on the Irish American Athletic Club, see its page on the Archives of Irish America website at

In addition, the Archives of Irish America includes a scrapbook of clippings about the career of James Brendan Connolly (1868–1957), a South Boston athlete who competed and won at the 1896 Olympics. This is part of the Cormac K. H. O’Malley Papers (AIA 19, Series 4).