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America is a melting pot.
People of every nationality call the US home, bringing with them their rich cultural traditions.
However, like any soup, it’s not always evenly distributed. Some nationalities are more prominently represented in certain states than others.
We analyzed data from the ACS Census to find the three most common ancestries in each state.
Keep reading to see our top findings, and the second and third most common ancestries.
Key Findings On Most Common Ancestry
- The most common single ancestry in the US is German, with over 50 million Americans of German descent and 21 states claiming German heritage the most.
- To put into common how prevalent German heritage is, prior to WW 1 when it fell out of favor, German was the second most common language in the US.
- German remains the second most spoken language in North Dakota.
- 19 states claim “American” as their ancestry the most.
- Massachusetts and New Hampshire have extra reason to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day.
- Maryland was the only state for Sub-Saharan African to be the most common ancestry.
- American remains a common response.
- 10 states claim “English” as the second most common primary ancestry, almost all in the South.
- Unsurprisingly, French heritage is common in Louisiana where visitors can see the French influence all around them.
- Norwegian was the 2nd most common ancestry in Minnesota, North Dakota, and South Dakota.
- West Indian enters the map for the first time, as the 2nd most common single ancestry in Florida.
- Unsurprisingly as we look at the third most common ancestry, we see previously popular heritages (Irish, English, German, and American) pop up in other parts of the country.
- Portuguese is the third most common single ancestry in Rhode Island.
- Michigan, Wisconsin, and Illinois all claim Polish as the third most common single ancestry.
How We Determined This
To find the most common ancestry in each state, we turned to US Census Ancestry data.
From there, we simply found the single ancestry the highest number of residents reported, then finding the second and third highest.
This data is self-reported, which relies on people accurately knowing their own heritage. Considering, 21% of Americans are unable to name a single great-grandparent, chances are good these results are skewed.
This may have contributed to the large number of respondents in every state who chose “American” as their ancestry– because the more distant heritage has been lost to history.
Similarly, the data is for those who report a single ancestry–so doesn’t take into account all the people whose personal heritage is their own melting pot and have multiple ancestries.
You can see a table of each state’s 3 most common single ancestries below:
Most Common Ancestries
|New Hampshire||Irish||French Canadian||English|
|New York||Italian||American||West Indian|
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