This is a fascinating map. It shows the ancestry with the largest population in every county in the United States based on the 2000 census. Here are the rankings:
2. African Americans
6. “Americans” (People who label themselves this way or do not know their ancestry)
No state has one ethnicity that dominates every county, but Pennsylvania (German), Wisconsin (German), Massachusetts, (Irish), Maine (English), Utah (English), and Nebraska (German) come very close.
A few more observations:
- Notice the Dutch enclaves in Western Michigan and south central Iowa.
- Why do so many people in Kentucky, Tennessee, West Virginia, the western portion of Virginia, Arkansas, and western North Carolina identify as “Americans?”
- South Carolina and Mississippi have the strongest concentrations of African Americans.
- New York metropolitan area is dominated by Italians
- I didn’t know that there we so many Finns in northern Wisconsin
- Note the Italian enclave in south Florida
OK immigration historians and historians of ethnicity, have at it.
Thanks for the map. I love it.
Don't forget the Northwest Iowa Dutch in Sioux County. Home to Dordt College and Northwestern College.
Jonathan D. Hepworth says
Funny that you should post this since I have written about it in so many graduate papers. I might be able to shed some light on a couple of things.
First of all, with the English dominating Nevada, you probably mean Utah. Nevada has only three counties were the English dominate; most of them are German. The English domination of Utah, as well as southern Idaho, southwestern Wyoming, and eastern Nevada is largely due to Latter-day Saint settlement. Those familiar with Mormonism may know that in 1850, three years after Brigham Young had arrived in the Salt Lake Valley, there were more Latter-day Saints in England than in Utah. Most of these crossed the Atlantic, giving Utah the highest proportion of English immigrants in the United States in 1880. The English areas pretty much match the Mormon corridor.
As far as all the Americans in Kentucky, Tennessee, Virginia, West Virginia, Arkansas, etc., my basic thesis is this: in areas where African-Americans made up a large part of the local workforce, race became more of an identifier than ethnicity. You will note that in other parts of the South there is a duality between Americans and African-Americans. Additionally, the southern states did not receive the high number of foreign immigrants in the late nineteenth century that northern and midwestern states did. For those foreigners who did go south, however, their status in a segregated society was determined by whether they were white or not, rather than their country or origin. This unity among whites is why I think people eventually saw themselves as not a particular kind of European, but American.
Orville Vernon Burton, a former professor of mine, was so intrigued by this that he made it part of his Presidential Address for the Southern Historical Association. See “The South As 'Other,' the Southerner As 'Stranger,'” Journal of Southern History 79, No. 1 (February 2013), especially pages 39-40.
I'm a Kentuckian, and have Irish, English, German, and Native American ancestry. There's no option for “Mutt” on this map, so I would probably default to “American” if I were filling out the survey that created it. So for me at least, it's not a race thing, it's that my predominantly European ancestry is not confined to one country so I don't fit into any other box.