Project Status

  • Proportion of enumeration districts in the selected area that have been completed: 60%
  • Number of enumeration districts found containing at least one claimant of Irish as a mother tongue: 6
  • Number of individuals found to date claiming Irish as a mother tongue: 136
  • Number of households containing at least one individual claiming Irish as a mother tongue: 116

Spatial Distributions

Among the important features of the community of native speakers of Irish in New York City in 1910 that stand out in the data collected so far has been the tendency for native speakers to live in close proximity to households containing other speakers of Irish as a first language. They often lived in adjoining buildings on one part of a street block, for example, as the map below providing the location of the households identified so far shows:

This clustering tendency is impossible to detect using census data sampled at the national level, and it may represent an active speech community in existence. In a related fashion, speakers also tended to live in close proximity at a limited number of addresses. Over half of the households identified to date, 61 out of 116, resided in multiple-unit buildings at a mere 8 addresses. One address, 411 W. 16th St., contained 13 households with at least one claimant of Irish as a mother tongue. This was not a boarding house, but rather a large building with numerous Irish-born families.

Year of Immigration

The arrival year of the Irish-born claimants of Irish as a mother tongue in the collected data closely follows the features of the same population as measured in the 1% IPUMS sample (weighted in the figures below) of the federal census constructed by the Minnesota Population Center.1 As with the New York residents2 recorded in the MPC 1% sample, speakers of Irish as a mother tongue had typically arrived in the 1880s or later. With an average age of 41.68 (42.26 for the 1% sample), this would put the usual age at time of immigration in the late teens.


Average Year of Immigration and Average Age, Irish-Born, 1910
Sample Average Year of Immigration Average Age
Irish Mother Tongue, Chelsea (N=130)31887.32 41.68
Irish Mother Tongue, 1% Sample (Weighted), NYC (N=22,665) 1886.34 42.20
English Mother Tongue, 1% Sample (Weighted), NYC (N=218,177) 1887.16 41.50

As the last line above shows, among Irish-born claimants of English as a mother tongue these averages were broadly the same as for the claimants of Irish as a mother tongue. This masks a slight difference in predominant arrival decade, however, as in both the Chelsea and the 1% NYC residents samples, Irish-first speakers had immigrated in great numbers in the 1880s (30% in that decade for both Irish-mother-tongue samples) before slowing slightly in the 1890s and early 1900s (closer to 20% to 26% arrived in each of those decades). By contrast, among English-only speakers, 26% of the Irish born had arrived in the 1880s, and a similar proportion in the 1890s and 1900s. Here are the respective frequencies of arrival in each decade (grouped by decade to account for even-year piling, hence the slight difference in mean year):

Decade of Immigration, Chelsea Sample, Irish Mother Tongue

Decade of Immigration, Chelsea Sample, Irish Mother Tongue

Decade of Immigration, 1% NYC IPUMS Sample (Weighted), English Mother Tongue

Decade of Immigration, 1% NYC IPUMS Sample (Weighted), English Mother Tongue

Naturally, these charts are not indicative of the rates of immigration in each of these decades–they represent the surviving Irish-born in 1910 that had arrived in each decade. Those who had arrived later in the last years of the 19th century became proportionally larger as earlier age cohorts died. Even so, the relative strength of immigration in the 1880s, particularly of speakers of Irish as a mother tongue, is noticeable. This finding accords well with well-known understandings of late-nineteenth century immigration to New York as heavily represented by outmigrations from Irish-speaking Connacht.

Occupations

Regarding work, broadly similar trends can be detected in speakers of English and of Irish as a mother tongue in both the Chelsea sample and the 1% IPUMS sample for New York City. Teamsters, general laborers, launderers, cooks, and servants predominate. Interestingly, speaking Irish as a first language appears to have been no barrier to obtaining employment as a servant, as this occupation was well represented among the Irish born claiming Irish as a native tongue in comparison to those claiming English.


Comparing Occupations of New York City Irish Born, 1910
Sample Top Three Occupations Percent of Sample
Irish Mother Tongue, Chelsea (N=136)1. Laborer 11.8%
2. Stableman 4.4%
3. Carpenter 2.2%
Irish Mother Tongue, 1% Sample (Weighted), NYC (N=22,665) 1. Servants 12.4%
2. Launderers/Launderesses 4.4%
3. Cooks 4.0%
English Mother Tongue, 1% Sample (Weighted), NYC (N=218,177) 1. Servants 9.2%
2. Cooks 2.4%
3. Waiters 2.2%

Notes
1 Steven Ruggles, J. Trent Alexander, Katie Genadek, Ronald Goeken, Matthew B. Schroeder, and Matthew Sobek, Integrated Public Use Microdata Series: Version 5.0 [Machine-readable database] (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota, 2010).
2  For 1910, the residents of the city encompass the four counties of New York (Manhattan and the Bronx), Kings (Brooklyn), Queens, and Richmond (Staten Island).

3  For six of the speakers of Irish as a mother tongue, no year of immigration was recorded.