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What was the ethnic composition of Massachusetts in the decades before the Civil War? I am particularly interested in knowing what percentage of the population claimed English, Scottish, North Irish, and Irish descent (but information on other groups is welcome). The only good source I've found is the 1790 Census, but obviously the ethnic makeup of Massachusetts was very different only a few decades later.

Ideally, someone knows of a table that updates these figures every decade, but I'd still really appreciate any solid, empirically grounded estimates at any point between 1790 and 1860. I might use these figures in calculations for an academic article, so good answers will be sourced.

  • You know that they have censuses every decade, right? – Oldcat May 28 '15 at 18:50
  • @Oldcat: From what I see the ethnicity question was only asked in 1790. Do you know otherwise? – two sheds May 28 '15 at 18:51
  • The 1860 census has the birth countries and states of all citizens. Racial information also appears for Indians and Blacks. US born are likely to be mixed ethnic relatively quickly anyway. – Oldcat May 28 '15 at 18:58
  • @Oldcat: Yeah, I agree there's going to be quite a bit of ethnic mixing by 1860, but not necessarily earlier in the century. There are some historiographic traditions that treat descent seriously in terms of political and cultural behavior, so for my purposes I still want to find something about ethnic heritage. But so far I've found nothing. – two sheds May 28 '15 at 19:04
  • You might want to look at a district level. A German immigrating to a German town/district might stay German a bit longer - there were a lot in the Midwest pre-war - but if a particular guy went to a normal town alone the ethinic tie went fairly fast. My 'ethnic' ancestors mixed to form a 4 origin fellow (Irish-German-Swedish-English) in just 2 generations. – Oldcat May 28 '15 at 22:54

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