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150 Years Of Immigrant Population In America: Visualized And Demystified Through A Map


By Gayathri Naga

In the recent times, some of the American presidential candidates have had so much to say in favour and against American immigration policies. In a country, whose founding  legacy was laid and carried forward by its vast immigration population, the question of anti-immigration comments is quite insensitive and ignorant of their contributions.

(To know more about the presidential candidates views on immigration policies, read up here-

In the light of this burning discussion where the Americans or rather certain candidates tend to forget their past, the  brings to us a digital visualization of this Foreign- born population in America over a period of 150 years.

immigrant population in america

Link for the map –


They borrowed their indication from Charles Paullin’s 1932 Atlas of the Historical Geography of the United States, a  humongous collection of more than 700 maps that so intricately marked everything from European settlement to hints of development in the region.

The researchers have improvised their own digital maps by adding an interactive layer that’ll help you take a closer look at this ongoing historical scene.


So, this interactive map basically visualizes America’s immigrant population history from the 1850s to 2010. All you have to do is click on a particular area of the country in the map and shift your cursor along the timeline given on the bottom and Voila! You can see the how people were migrating during different time periods and how this pattern has shifted in the due course of time.


Unlike other interactive maps that tend to only highlight data or give statistical information, this allows you to understand the history of immigration in a more thorough sense and presents itself as a tool and scope to dig deeper into the issue.

For instance, let’s look at Virginia. According to the map, 1,961,597 people migrated from Germany in the 1800s, the largest immigrant population the world has witnessed. This was due to the economic hardships and religious persecutions which were the cruel aftermaths of the Thirty years war.

Presently, most foreign borns in America are Canadians and in the 1920s, most of the migrant population was from England. This doesn’t just provide you with dry numbers but also gives you the opportunity for comparative and further analysis.


America has always been a nation of immigrants and they have been naturalized from the beginning, i.e the immigrants tend to become American in every sense of the term. They have increased the American labor force, which otherwise would shrink in two decades. America has an edge in the world economy because of its immigrant population. They bring in novel ideas and are business spirited which is a boon to the American economy. They have enriched American culture and given the country a distinct international stature. They have indeed contributed immensely to this great nation’s growth and development.

Now, when we look at the bigger picture at hand, we can observe a close relationship between the immigration trend and the political tension of any decade. For instance, immigration levels stayed quite low during the Great Depression because the Congress had executed a quota system to cut down on the immigration from Asia and Europe.

If you read the map carefully, there are loads of conclusions you can draw and facts you can learn about. It will also make you question their Immigration policy and the current international political climate!

What are your views on America’s immigration policy? Should anti-immigration rhetoric be encouraged or stopped? Share with us in the comments below!

Image Credits: Google

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