Bell Curve The Law Talking Guy Raised by Republicans U.S. West
Well, he's kind of had it in for me ever since I accidentally ran over his dog. Actually, replace "accidentally" with "repeatedly," and replace "dog" with "son."

Friday, June 20, 2008

American Ancestry

We had a long discussion of ancestry in America and such down below. It was a neat discussion. For additional perspective, here's a map showing the largest ancestry (self-reported) by county. Note a few things:
1. German ancestry is much more common than most people realize.
2. "English" ancestry would be more common except that, in the south, people of Scots-Irish and English ancestry call themselves "American." It is worth noting that these people are most likely to think of themeselves as "white" in contradistinction to being "black" - since they live in the area of the country with the most African-Americans. Add up the English and "Americans" and you get a large, large number.
3. Most Mormons claim "English" ancestry.
4. In New Mexico, Spanish but not Mexican is large.

Here's a map of religion by state:


Raised By Republicans said...

As someone who has roots in the lime green land of lakes, Lutherans and liberty, I think it is interesting that Episcopaleans dominate the Presidency. Why no Lutheran Presidents??? With all these Germans too? Who says we don't have state religion? The White House is hardly less C of E than No. 10 Downing Street is.

But seriously, the part of my family that has been in this country the longest is German (Pennsylvania "Dutch" actually). It's funny that the ancestors that we can point to to claim membership in groups like the Sons/Daughters of the American Revolution were all German speaking, not English.

You know, when the Hessian Butchers at Trenton were so rudely awakened by Washington's men the first words they heard may have been "Hande Hoch!" uttered by some ancestor of mine serving in the Pennsylvania Militia.

History Buff said...

I was surprised to see that the major religion is Maine and Michigan is Pentecostal.

Texas has a wide range of faiths, but I guess we are majority Catholic because of our Mexican Heritage. Although a lot of Hispanics have lately been attracted to the more evangelical types of denominations such as Jehovah's Witness (can't figure this out because Mexicans love to celebrate), Petecostal or Assembly of God and Mormonism. They also tend to be the type of Catholic that is drawn to speaking in tongues and healings(can't think of the specific name.)

The Law Talking Guy said...

FYI, this is not majority religion, it's the LARGEST religion in the county. So it's a plurality. Note the #s of 10% or 20%. Maine/Michigan are 10% pentecostal - that's all it means. The rest is smaller than 10%.

Bob said...

If I had to guess, I'd say the Mormons know what they're talking about when it comes to their heritage. Genealogy is big for the Church of LDS.

I just wanted to add a parenthetical or two to the long prior discussion on American hyphenation. I want to concur with Dr. S (and others) that hyphenation came about as a way of empowering an oppressed culture. This may be essentially repeating what's already been said, but maybe my paraphrase has some nuance that others might find either useful or wrong.

The fictohistorical narrative goes that some immigrant wave comes in, the current "Americans" reject them, calling them a number of unpleasant epithets that don't have the word "American" in them, and the wave uses the hyphenation to proclaim that they are just as American as the bluebloods who spat on them.

Sometimes, these cultures became so well assimilated or dominant in a region (e.g., the Irish in Boston) that some of their members were the ones doing the spitting on the next wave.

My second point, only peripherally related to the above, is that Dr. S suggested "French-American" didn't take root, but did not mention the reason for this is that the commonly used hyphenated term is "Franco-American", which indeed was and is popular in parts of the country (and until recently, was the brand that SpaghettiO's was sold under).

Lastly, I would submit there are two reasons why "Anglo-American" or some other hyphenation isn't commonly used to denote a culture: first, because the English (and generally immigrants from other UK countries) weren't an oppressed group that needed to assert themselves; and second, because the primary modern use of European-American hyphenations is for food festivals.

Raised By Republicans said...


I think your last two statements about SpaghettiO's and the implied quality of English/British food is hilarious!!!!

Of course, no one would turn their nose up at steak and kidney pie if the alternative was lutefisk...well, actually most of us would just starve.

Bell Curve said...

Gotta love the inset of Puerto RIco showing that most people there claim ... wait for it ... Puerto Rican ancestry.

The Law Talking Guy said...

Bell Curve - that's how you can tell it's a government chart.

The Law Talking Guy said...

This also shows the effect of immigration on the north and west. When immigration began bigtime in the 1840s, none of it went to the south. For that reason, the south shows no diversity except for the black/white ("American" and "African-American" as they apparently call themselves). That nomenclature tells you what Bob was saying about hyphenation.

Dr. Strangelove said...

I've only ever heard "Franco-American" and "Anglo-American" in terms of international relations... and yes, SpaghettiO's. And other than census-taking and election time, Bob is right that one largely sees "culture" celebrated at food festivals. Immigrants who came to this country were often quite poor, bringing with them their language, their customs, and their cuisine. After a generation or so, what remains of these gifts are an accent, a handful of fairly fossilized rituals, and an American-ized version of their cuisine: that is, less spice, more meat, and bigger portions all around.

African-Americans are an interesting case because--rather like the Jews in Israel--much of their culture was re-created (or just plain created) in modern times after centuries of forced subservience and assimilation, in which language and culture was lost. The Black Muslim movement, Kwanzaa, and colorful African dresses are all examples of creative invention. Which is a good thing.

What I'm emphasizing is that these hyphenated cultural celebrations are still very American, and do not necessarily reflect much of the "old country" anymore. But then, traditions need not be continuous to remain authentic. Culture, after all, is mostly just what people do. Much of what the world perceives as "American" culture is spoken of here, sometimes with disdain, as "pop" culture. Although it is in most respects far more authentic than the annual pilgrim festivals and the like that supposedly celebrate American heritage over here.

History Buff said...

We also export our "pop" culture through movies and television.

For a long time in Mexico Christmas was a strictly religious celebration and presents were only given out on Dia de los Reyes (or Three Kings day, epiphany), When the three kings put toys and fruit in the shoes of good little girls and boys. Now Mexicans put up Christmas trees and give out presents on December 25th, which in the really olden days was the birthday of Mithras a Persian diety who was also considered a savior of his people. So culture gets coopted everywhere I guess.

Raised By Republicans said...

"hyphenated cultural celebrations are still very American, and do not necessarily reflect much of the "old country" anymore."

I can confirm that. As a Scandinavian-American who has spent a lot of time in Scandinavia, the three or four generations that seperate us from the old country have made some major changes. There are some similarities that go beyond food and such but the differences are huge. To me, that's why it makes sense to hyphenate.

Dr. Strangelove said...

In honor of George Carlin's passing, perhaps the rule of thumb on hyphenation should be this: if there is a slang term for your ethnicity or culture sufficiently widely known and pejorative that it would not make it past the TV censors during family viewing hour, then hyphenation is sensible. (Thus the Pommies and the Frogs usually do not hyphenate, but the Chinks and Spics certainly have every right. The Wops and Polacks are borderline cases, usually reserved for food festivals.) And if you cringed at any word within the parentheses, perhaps I have made my point...

History Buff said...

Man, I feel left out again, Limey-American still would make it past the censors. Of course I could always be an MF-American!

The Law Talking Guy said...

HB - I believe you are a Texan-American...

History Buff said...

Yeah, I guess that wouldn't make it past the censors.

Anonymous said...

To me its obvious the 'American Ancestry' is a mix of Brits, Irish and Dutch (the originals). There was a lot of German influx but i figure those who claim to be American are those who were from families that were the settlers. I would be very surprised if the American Ancestry was mainly German because if it were then that would mean America let more immigrants into their country during 1800s than their actual population (which makes no sense), thats like welcoming immigrants to take over the country.

The image is also misleading since the south eastern states have a lot of population (minus New York and California), you will notice that even though there is lots of German areas most of the actual areas are of less population. North East is a mixed bunch to be fair but the North West including the Northern Center has the least populated states so typically Germans that came in the 1800s probably populated most of the north west and center of the country..

Last time i went traveling i can quite clearly say the Caucasian southerners on average looked more British/Irish looking and the northerners look more German/Polish looking on average. However being truthful there is a lot of gene mixes in the last 200 years.. you will also notice lots of 'English ancestry' on the outside edges of the American ancestry areas which gives me the impression most of the states were English (some other sites are saying the areas are dominated by Irish but i think this is just some fascination with being Irish for some).

Check this link out to see what i mean by southern east being very populated:..

I would probably say German and British ancestry is more like 50/50 (that isn't including Irish though).. it depends really on these Americans who claim American ancestry to reveal their ancestry so we have more accurate results..