Special Report

The Most Unusual Ancestry in Each State

16. Kansas
> Location quotient of ancestry:
4.8
> Most unique ancestry: Kenyan
> Percentage of state residents identifying as Kenyan: 0.1%
> Share of U.S. Kenyan population living in state: 4.3%

While neighboring states often have high concentrations of the same ancestries, this is not the case with states that have relatively high concentrations of residents with Kenyan ancestry. Kansas, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Jersey, and Texas, which have the highest shares of people with Kenyan ancestry, are spread from New England to the Southwest. Kansas, however, is the only state where Kenyan is the most unique heritage. Of the roughly 65,000 Americans who claim Kenyan ancestry, about 2,800 live in Kansas.

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17. Kentucky
> Location quotient of ancestry:
9.7
> Most unique ancestry: Appalachian
> Percentage of state residents identifying as Appalachian: 0.1%
> Share of U.S. Appalachian population living in state: 12.1%

Most Americans responded to the U.S. Census Bureau’s survey on ancestry with a specific country of origin. There were some notable exceptions, however, including a sizeable share of residents identifying simply as American. Another interesting exception is the roughly 18,500 who identify as Appalachian. Not surprisingly, the largest share — 12.1% — live in the Appalachian state of Kentucky. The state has roughly 10 times the per capita share of Appalachians than the U.S. as a whole.

18. Louisiana
> Location quotient of ancestry:
38.4
> Most unique ancestry: Cajun
> Percentage of state residents identifying as Cajun: 1.4%
> Share of U.S. Cajun population living in state: 56.3%

Just 1.4% of Louisiana residents identify as Cajun, but that percentage is 38.4 times greater than the proportion of Americans nationwide who identify as part of the ethnic group — reflecting a greater concentration than any other group in the state. Many Louisiana residents who identify as Cajun are likely descendants of French settlers who travelled to present-day Louisiana in the 17th century from Acadia, now known as Nova Scotia.

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19. Maine
> Location quotient of ancestry:
14.5
> Most unique ancestry: French Canadian
> Percentage of state residents identifying as French Canadian: 8.1%
> Share of U.S. French Canadian population living in state: 6.0%

All the states in the country where French Canadian is the most unique heritage are contiguous, located in New England, and border Quebec. One such state, Maine, is home to 6.0% of America’s 1.5 million residents who claim French Canadian ancestry. French is the official language of the Canadian province of Quebec, which was originally known as New France, .

20. Maryland
> Location quotient of ancestry:
10.8
> Most unique ancestry: Cameroonian
> Percentage of state residents identifying as Cameroonian: 0.1%
> Share of U.S. Cameroonian population living in state: 20.1%

The largest share of Maryland’s residents trace back their ancestry to German roots. Residents with Irish and English ancestry make up the next largest groups in the state. However, these are all common countries of origin nationwide. The most unique country of origin claimed by a high share state residents is Cameroon, a Central African nation. Maryland has more than 10 times the per capita share of residents who identify as Cameroonians than the country as a whole. Roughly one in five Americans of Cameroonian ancestry resides in the Mid-Atlantic state.