US Census 2010

The 23rd United States census takes place on April 1st 2010.

The census has many objectives, such as deciding the number of congressional seats allotted and the amount of federal money allocated to each region, but our main interest is obviously the Irish aspect.

America’s ethnic make-up is changing, and there’s some debate about whether the sense of one’s Irish heritage is weakening or in fact getting stronger.

The next US census may help clarify the picture.

Previously recorded numbers of Irish race were as follows, and whilst there’s an overall dip it will be interesting to see if 2010 produces results nearer to the 2000 census or (as maybe more likely?) the numbers recorded in 2008.

  • US Census 1990 – 38,735,539
  • US Census 2000 – 30,524,799
  • American Community Survey 2006 – 36,495,800
  • American Community Survey 2008 – 36,278,332

The latter two surveys do not include Scots-Irish ancestry, who are counted separately, and who account for at least five million additional Americans. (I’m not sure if the Censuses follow the same rules but will update this post if I find out, or if someone can let me know.)

There’s various factors involved here:

- The changing political scene in Northern Ireland over the last decade,
- The current initiatives from a range of Irish political parties to engage with the diaspora,
- The stronger online presence of Irish-American communities (e.g,,
- The possibility of a Global Irish Network and increasing business links,
- The discussion about the ‘undocumented Irish’,
- and more recent emigration being some obvious examples.

How these impact on the ‘ebb and flow’ is hard to quantify but maybe trends will give some indications.

US Census 2010In one way it would also be interesting if generational levels were recorded as it would be good to see how many 3rd 4th and 5th generation Irish see themselves as such. On the other hand it’s positive that this isn’t differentiated and that one’s right to a sense of heritage isn’t challenged.

If you’re Irish-American what do you think. Do you feel your heritage is still as important today as it was in the past?



US Census 2010 — 5 Comments

  1. I think part of the issue here is the nature of the Census itself. While as a genealogist, I deeply appreciate what past census have provided me, I'm sure I'm not alone in my hesitation to reveal too much of myself to the government. The United States census has reached a level of politicization unheard of in previous generations…not sure heritage is going to matter near as much as my political affiliation. Community surveys aren't much better, however people may more freely discuss details of their private lives to interests other than the government. ;)

    As for the importance of my heritage, it is something I deeply treasure and appreciate. The more I learn of my history, the more awestruck and grateful I am for those who came before me. I come from Scots-Irish borderers, desperate famine immigrants, 19th century Bavarian and French immigrants, and even some English Cavalier founders of First Families of Virginia. Each piece of history of these families constitutes a unique perspective, and they are all amalgamated in …me. (Of all people!) I don't know that one can truly appreciate the depth of one's blessings without first understanding what those who came before endured.

    I cannot explain why I most singularly identify with my Irish heritage. Like most other Americans, I have varied influences. I didn't even realize there were many Irish in my background until I was well into adulthood. When I was young, my grandmother told me her grandparents were famine immigrants, it just really didn't register with me until I was much older. Once I started researching genealogy, I sought to increase my understanding of it by adding Irish history, along with a more general history of Roman, ancient Celtic, and British, Welsh, and Scots history. The pieces make much more sense this way.

    So for me, in a nutshell, my heritage is more important than ever. So much that I am passing on my understanding of this heritage to my children.

    • Hi Monica, and thanks for dropping by.

      It's always good to hear from across the pond and your point about appreciating ones roots is spot on. It seems fairly common that we put more importance on this as we get a bit older (and wiser!), so great to hear you're own heritage will be handed down the generations.

      Wisjing you a happy new year and all the best,


  2. My Irish heritage is very important to me. As a child, it was just "normal" to go to the Irish Catskills for vacation and listen to Irish music with the family, however as I started to lose my parents my Irish heritage became "huge" because it connected me with them. Starting my ancestral research about three years ago, I feel I have come to know them so much more because I see and understand the events that shaped my grandparents, and parent’s lives. The hardships of my grandmother, losing her mother in childbirth, poverty and emigration, being "all alone " in this new country.

  3. My father’s family took two attempts to make it in America, the second arrival just three weeks before the crash of 1929. His father would only live ten years after and die in his thirties. All of this history makes us who we are, and grounds us in the blood , sweat and toil, that those before us gratefully experienced to provide a better life for future generation. On my son's 13th birthday we travelled to Ireland, to walk the steps of days gone bye. We buried a time capsule in the town where my mother's" McNamara's" came from with the plan that when he has his own children, he will return and put new items in the capsule, hopefully starting a tradition which brings all of our future children back to the country of their heritage, letting them know who they really are.

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