Tracing the ancestry of residents in each Connecticut town

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Connecticut was settled almost 400 years ago, but events of about 150 years ago seem to have more strongly shaped the current demographics of the state.

A TrendCT analysis of the American Community Survey found that Italy is still the predominant country of ancestry in this state; about 19 percent of residents said their ancestors hailed from Italy. A close second are the Irish, at 16 percent.

Connecticut’s neighboring states also have a high percentage of residents whose ancestors are from Italy and Ireland. But, according to this data, Connecticut has an argument as the Italian state, with the highest percentage of residents of Italian heritage in New England.

Meanwhile, Massachusetts and its 22.6 percent can lay claim to being the most Irish state in the region.

Top countries of ancestry in Connecticut and nearby states
Country Connecticut Massachusetts New York Rhode Island
Italian 18.8% 13.7% 13.6% 18.7%
Irish 16.4% 22.6% 12.8% 19.0%
German 9.6% 6.4% 10.9% 5.6%
English 9.2% 10.7% 5.6% 11.7%
ACS five-year estimates, 2013

Perhaps the most interesting thing is the regional split between people whose ancestors hail from Ireland versus Italy. The southwest portion of the state is dominated by the progeny of Italian immigrants. Descendants of Irish immigrants predominate in the rest of the state. The Irish accounted for more than half of Connecticut’s immigrant population by the 1870s. But Italians took over the top spot by the end of the century, with mass migration in the 1890s. (More reading here.)

However, the map above — and historical census data — shows that Italians tended to settle around New Haven and Fairfield counties, with highly concentrated populations in some towns like East Haven, while the Irish settled more evenly across the state.

The other interesting note is the French influence in the northeast corner of the state. In the survey, residents are allowed to list more than one country of ancestry, so French and French Canadian were common responses in that region.

English ancestry is also dominant in various towns across the state, while Hartford’s dominant ancestry is what the Census categorizes as “West Indian,” which consists of people from the Caribbean, excluding Hispanic groups.

What do you think?


    Oh Lord, that’s great, more Italian American bigots who hate every OTHER RACE. Give me the French over them anytime.

  • 5DRW5

    How is ancestry determined? I have roots in all the groups mentioned but Italian. Would I be counted equally in all?

    • alvinschang

      They take up to two ancestries, although some people put down more than two. It’s actually quite interesting, because that means that people with multiple ancestries end up only being counted for the ones they list first:

  • Rebecca Sanford

    I’m from East Windsor, and I’m French/Irish. Mostly French, but my family comes from Maine. I was only the second person in my family born in CT