Today we look at a widely dispersed segment of the American population – Scottish Americans. Scotts have a presence out west, in the New England region, and in a band along the Appalachian mountains.
Don’t have much to add – I *think* I’ve got some Scottish in my family tree — but I’m one of those mongrel Americans with so many different ancestries, calling myself American seems simplest at this point.
After spending some time looking at ethnic heritage in America, it’s time to turn to a new demographic: Those who respond, when asked for their ethnic background by the census, as “American.”
This ethnic/ancestral type reflects, presumably, Americans who no longer know, or no longer care, about the various derivations which contribute to their family trees. They’ve become a modern, generic homogenized ethnicity – the American-American.
I suspect I’m close to joining the American-Americans. I’m a little hazy on my family tree, beyond the knowledge that I’ve got some German, some Welsh, some Scottish and English progenitors. With such vague, and diverse, roots, simply calling myself “American” makes more and more sense to me.
Today I take a brief break from ethnicity to look at the percentage of residents in American zip codes who were born outside of the United States. This isn’t the same as the percentage of non-citizens, mind you, which I looked at separately, and which I’ve turned in to the Reveille. One of the major themes of my series on ethnic/racial heritage is that the United States is an immigrant nation – the primary difference between each immigrant group is order of arrival.
The map of foreign-born residents is the simplest way to see where the newest immigrants have settled – where the newest addition to our mixing bowl can be found. Some may not be citizens, and there is no way at the moment to tell whether they’ll be able to become legal citizens of the United States. That debate is a big part of why I became interested in this data. However, legal or not, they’re here – and now we can see visually *where* they are. Originally, ancestry and ethnic mix seemed like a good, quick way to show that the United States is a hodge-podge of post-Revolution immigrants. Instead, I found the dispersal of different ancestries compelling. Many maps later, here we are.
Share with anyone you know living in the United States, but born outside her borders. They can see how many of their neighbors share their non-native born status.
Polish-Americans are highly concentrated among the Great Lakes region of the United States, showing much less diffusion than some of the other ancestries I’ve looked at, like the Irish.
Aside from their fairly specific geographic distribution, the Polish-American population doesn’t hold many surprises. I had thought there’d be more Poles, but one problem with preconceptions about ancestry is that there are so many different ancestries which make up the American landscape that it’s difficult to get a handle on all of them at once, as well as their relative prevalence. When I approach the end of this project, I do hope to put together a single map showing multiple ancestral/ethnic groupings at once — but I’m running into technical difficulties, and it remains a challenging work in progress. Cross your fingers for me!
Here’s a link to my Tableau on Polish-Americans, so you can drill down, zoom in, etc:
I looked at what I called “Native Sons” almost as soon as I started playing with the zipcode-level census data. The clear state borders you can see really stood out to me. Sadly, I didn’t think anyone else would be as interested in that… But from what I’ve seen of responses to the Times interactive, this is not the case. At least for Louisiana – one of the biggest homebodies of all the states. Born here, stay here, die here, apparently. Either the state is awesome, or we’re kind of timid/boring.
The first thing that struck me when I made this map: What the heck is up with Chicago?
Seriously, I had always thought Chicago was supposed to have an enormous Irish population – yet you just don’t see it on this zip-code level census data. Even poking around and mousing over individual zip codes in the area, I didn’t see much to explain the lack — no concentrated, 100% Irish neighborhoods, say.
But, again, that’s why you do these sorts of projects. Surprise results are a good thing, as they help dispel illusions you previously labored under. The Irish are a wonderful group to study when discussing immigration, because they’re one of the more famous groups of immigrants to arrive in America and face opposition from those who were already here. The map is set so the darkest green (please forgive the stereotype I indulged in, using green to represent the Irish) represents zip codes with 25% or more Irish descent.
There are many more ancestral groups to cover, and I will keep putting together new maps for as long as I can find the time — keep watching jaredwkendall.com to see more of what makes up those who make up America.
Link to my Tableau tool, so you can get individual zip code data for all ancestral breakdowns:
It being Thanksgiving, I think of Native Americans, among other things. It’s a carryover from my childhood, when the whole Pilgrims & Indians mythos was treated as gospel truth.
Looking at their distribution, you can see Native American concentrations in modern tribal areas — Oklahoma, in particular, is easy to pick out. Other reservations and concentrations of Native Americans can be seen in the southwest, and parts of the northern Great Plains.
Native American demographics weren’t included in the census dataset I used as my primary source. They’re included in files that look at race, rather than ancestry, and it’s a little weird to me that the two aren’t kept together. Race is about more than just race – it’s also about where we came from, and how we got where we are today. These maps help show both where we are now, and to some extent, I think they speak to how we got here, as well.
Like many Americans, I’m a little hazy on my family tree. However, I’ve always thought of myself as predominately British, and assumed that as a former British colony, English descendents would be heavily represented when I mapped them.
This was not the case.
While America has plenty of English-Americans, they’re much more sparse than, say, German-Americans. This also brings up an interesting question – how much of these census results is attributed to actual lineage, and how much is due to variances in self-reporting? In other words, when you can count German, English, Welsh and Scottish relatives as part of your family tree, how do you choose to describe yourself? Perhaps claiming English descent seems too pedestrian, and loses out to the more “exciting” choices of, say, Scottish. To get true data, you would probably have to turn to genetic testing, and data from genetic testers that release demographic information can’t be trusted as being statistically representative of everyone – getting tested costs money, and requires an interest in such things. That’s going to skew results.
For now, the census is as good as it gets, and I was quite surprised by this one. Here’s hoping I’m not alone – expected results can be awfully boring.
In my continuing series looking at demographics of America, I now turn to Czech-Americans. Using Census data, I’ve mapped where people reporting Czech ancestry live in the United States.
The map shows a strong distribution in the mid-west and Texas, and is set so that it tops out at 5% of the population reporting Czech ancestry. I’ll be continuing this series – so stay tuned for new maps and a new look at the polyglot nature of America!
Here’s the Tableau map, if you’d like to zoom in and see smaller geographic areas:
Lately, I’ve been spending a lot of time with census data. This map is one of the results of that effort – and it shows, by zip code, where veterans are concentrated among the local population. Wherever on the map you see dark red, 20% (or more) of the residents are veterans.
Apparently, the west holds a draw for our veterans. Frankly, I’m a bit surprised by how much of the country includes veteran populations of 20% or more.
Here’s a link to the viz – you can mouse over zip codes for individual percentages, zoom in, etc: