17 maps that show how Americans identify their roots across the US

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America USA July 4th Independence Day Flag REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst

  • Americans come from a wide variety of ancestries.
  • Using data from the US Census Bureau's American Community Survey, we found how common various ancestries are in all 50 states.
  • For instance, Irish ancestry is most concentrated in the northeast, while Mexican and Mexican-American ancestry is most common in the states that share a border with Mexico.

Americans come from all over the world, and American families have countless stories about their origins.

The Census Bureau's American Community Survey asks several questions about residents' economic, social, and demographic characteristics and situations. One of the questions on the survey asks respondents to report their families' ancestries.

Using individual-level data from the Minnesota Population Center's Integrated Public Use Microdata Series for the 2016 American Community Survey, we found the total number of respondents in each state reporting various ancestries as either their first or second response to that question.

About 84% of respondents listed at least one ancestry. The following maps show the percentage of those who gave at least one answer that said they had a particular ancestry for 17 of the most common ancestries in the US.

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Americans with German ancestry are common in the upper Midwest

Americans with German ancestry are common in the upper Midwest

Irish ancestry is most concentrated in the northeast

Irish ancestry is most concentrated in the northeast

A large part of the African American and Afro-American population in the US lives in the south

A large part of the African American and Afro-American population in the US lives in the south

Mexican and Mexican-American ancestry is most common in the states that share a border with Mexico

Mexican and Mexican-American ancestry is most common in the states that share a border with Mexico

States with a relatively high proportion of residents identifying as English are scattered across the country

States with a relatively high proportion of residents identifying as English are scattered across the country

Americans who simply identified their ancestry as being from the United States are common in the inland southern states

Americans who simply identified their ancestry as being from the United States are common in the inland southern states

The mid-Atlantic region is home to many Americans of Italian ancestry

The mid-Atlantic region is home to many Americans of Italian ancestry

Alaska, Oklahoma, and South Dakota have large numbers of residents with American Indian ancestry

Alaska, Oklahoma, and South Dakota have large numbers of residents with American Indian ancestry

Many Americans with Polish ancestry live in Wisconsin, Michigan, Illinois, and Connecticut

Many Americans with Polish ancestry live in Wisconsin, Michigan, Illinois, and Connecticut

French ancestry is most common in Louisiana and the northeast

French ancestry is most common in Louisiana and the northeast

Scottish ancestry is common in the northeast and Utah

Scottish ancestry is common in the northeast and Utah

Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota, Minnesota, and Wisconsin all have many residents with Norwegian ancestry

Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota, Minnesota, and Wisconsin all have many residents with Norwegian ancestry

Puerto Rican ancestry is most common in the mid-Atlantic states and Florida

Puerto Rican ancestry is most common in the mid-Atlantic states and Florida

California and Hawaii have relatively large shares of residents with Chinese ancestry

California and Hawaii have relatively large shares of residents with Chinese ancestry

South Dakota, Iowa, and Michigan have relatively large numbers of residents with Dutch ancestry

South Dakota, Iowa, and Michigan have relatively large numbers of residents with Dutch ancestry

Swedish ancestry is most common in the Great Plains and mountain states

Swedish ancestry is most common in the Great Plains and mountain states

New Jersey and Connecticut have large Asian Indian populations

New Jersey and Connecticut have large Asian Indian populations
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