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Dictionary of Wisconsin History

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Term: immigration (19th-Century)


Immigrant Women and Children(WHI-4722)

In the 15 years between 1836 and 1850, Wisconsinżs population increased from 11,000 to more than 305,000, one-third of them foreign-born. Of these, only 48,000 spoke English; nearly one-half of these English speakers were Irish. Of the nonżEnglish speaking immigrants, Germans were by far the most numerous and Norwegians constituted the second largest group, followed closely by Canadians of primarily French descent.

By 1870, the census showed that just over a million people had come into Wisconsin from Europe, Canada or eastern states of the U.S. They were virtually all white (less than one-tenth of 1% were African American) and men outnumbered women by a slight margin, 52% to 48%. More than a third of 1870 residents had been born overseas: 16% in Germany, 8% in the British Isles, 5% in Scandinavia, and the rest elsewhere in Europe or Canada.

View more information elsewhere at

View pictures relating to immigrants at Wisconsin Historical Images.

View related articles at Wisconsin Magazine of History Archives.

[Source: Turning Points in Wisconsin History]
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