“What’s in a name?” Shakespeare’s Juliet asked that rhetorical question more than 500 years ago. This question still rings true today in 21st century America. Names tell a story – they can help shed light on heritage as well as on America’s population makeup.
For centuries, people have come to the U.S. to escape war, oppression, and poverty, or to pursue employment opportunities and success. Most Americans can trace their roots to immigrant ancestors. 24/7 Wall St. reviewed Census data to find the 50 most common last names in the U.S.
Today, the vast majority of the most common surnames in the U.S. can be traced back to England and other European origins. Among the top 50 most common surnames, 12 have Spanish, Cuban, or Mexican heritage.
The rise in Spanish surnames makes some people uncomfortable, a fact President Donald Trump tapped into in his presidential campaign. For a country built on immigration, fear of immigrants has somehow been a recurring theme.
All 12 Spanish-origin names found on this list have dramatically increased since they were last counted in 2000 — a stark contrast to English names that are mostly growing at a slower pace.
Do you think your last name made the list?
To determine the most common surnames in the United States, 24/7 Wall St. analyzed past and present census counts to understand population diversity in America. The origin of each family name was obtained from open data on Ancestry.com. Photos of celebrities, well-known historical figures, areas of a name’s heritage, or imagery reflecting origin were used to represent each name.