Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Top Five Ancestries in Herkimer and Oneida Counties: 1980 to 2010

Ancestry is a relatively new question within the Census. The ancestry question was added to the census form in 1980, so the data concerning ancestry is about 30 years old at best. Ancestry can refer to a person’s ethnic origin or descent, their "roots" or heritage, or the place of birth of the person or the person’s parents or ancestors before their arrival in the United States. Some ethnic identities, such as "German" or "Jamaican," can be traced to geographic areas outside the United States, while other ethnicities such as "Pennsylvania Dutch" or "Cajun" evolved in the United States.Some obviously may refer to a specific country (Polish), while others may be more regional in concept (Arab).

The intent of the ancestry question is not to measure the degree of attachment a respondent has to a particular ethnicity. Rather it is intended to give people a chance to describe their self-identity with any particular heritage if they feel they have one. So, for example, a response of "Irish" might reflect total involvement in an "Irish" community. On the other hand it may reflect only a memory of ancestors several generations removed from the individual. A person’s ancestry is not necessarily the same as his or her place of birth; i.e., not all people of German ancestry were born in Germany (in fact, most were not).

And of course, some people prefer to identify their ancestry as American. This could be because their ancestors have been in United States for so long or they have such mixed backgrounds that they do not identify with any particular group. Some foreign born or children of the foreign born may report American to show that they are part of American society. There are many reasons people may report their ancestors as American, and the growth in this response has been substantial.

All that being said, so what do Herkimer and Oneida Counties ancestry data look like ? Well below you can see the Top Five Ancestries for each county since the question was introduced in 1980. Note how some ancestral  identities have declined while others have risen. And in Herkimer County, one ancestry dropped out of the Top 5 altogether.

Top Five Ancestries in Herkimer County

Herkimer County (Click to Enlarge)


Top Five Ancestries in Oneida County

Oneida County (Click to Enlarge)