Since the first prosperous English colony settled in Jamestown in 1607, streams of immigrants have arrived on American shores in search of a new life. From Irish immigrants fleeing the famine to Chinese immigrants who settled in California during the Gold Rush, more than 86 million people immigrated legally to the United States between 1783 and 2019.
There were four major waves of immigration to the United States, beginning with settlers from northern and western Europe seeking frontier land from 1820 to 1880. Immigrants counted in the 1900 census came mainly from southern and eastern Europe, drawn by the call of industrialization in America. When the era of the World Wars dawned, there was a shortage of immigration, but after 1965 people from Asia and Latin America began to settle in the United States in droves.
Although the domestic immigrant population today and in 1900 is comparable in percentage, hovering around 14% of the total US population, the raw population tells a different story. Today, the United States is home to 44.7 million immigrants, down from just under 10.5 million at the time of the 1900 census. Stacker compiled a list of the largest sources of immigrants in North Carolina in 1900 by transcribing a previously untranscribed US Census Bureau dataset. Countries are ranked by the total number of residents born in that country.
Immigration to the United States was handled at the state level prior to 1890, with each state government designating its own processes and checkpoints. New York originally used Castle Garden (now Castle Clinton) as an immigration processing center, but within decades realized that a large influx of immigrants required a larger venue. Ellis Island opened its doors on January 1, 1892 to the first of more than 12 million people who entered the United States through its doors.
Keep reading to learn more about the historic immigrant community in your home country, or explore the data for yourself on our site, GitHub, or data.world.
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