What Illinois' immigrant population looked like in 1900

Written by:
July 23, 2022
ullstein bild Dtl. // Getty Images

What Illinois' immigrant population looked like in 1900

Since the first successful English colony settled in Jamestown in 1607, flows of immigrants have arrived on American shores seeking a new life. From Irish immigrants fleeing famine to Chinese immigrants settling in California during the Gold Rush, more than 86 million people legally immigrated to the United States between 1783 and 2019.

There have been four major waves of immigration to the U.S., beginning with settlers from northern and western Europe seeking land on the frontier from 1820 to 1880. The immigrants counted in the 1900 Census hailed primarily from southern and eastern Europe, drawn by the call of industrialization in America. At the advent of the era of world wars, there was a dearth of immigration, but after 1965, individuals from Asia and Latin America began to move to the U.S. in droves.

Though the national immigrant population today and in 1900 is comparable by percentage, hovering around 14% of the overall U.S. population, the raw population tells a different story. Today, the U.S. is home to 44.7 million immigrants, whereas that number was just shy of 10.5 million at the time of the 1900 Census. Stacker compiled a list of the largest sources of immigrants in Illinois in 1900 by transcribing a previously untranscribed dataset from the U.S. Census Bureau. Countries are ranked by total residents who were born in that country.

Immigration to the U.S. 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 its immigration processing hub, but within a few decades realized that a massive influx of immigrants necessitated a larger venue. Ellis Island opened on Jan. 1, 1892, to the first of more than 12 million individuals who entered the U.S. through its doors.

Keep reading to find out more about the historical immigrant community in your home state or explore the data on your own on our site, GitHub, or data.world.

You may also like: Counties with highest COVID-19 infection rates in Illinois

1 / 42
Lewis W. Hine // Getty Images

#1. Germany

Illinois
- Number of residents: 332,169
- Percent of foreign born residents: 34.36%
- Percent of total state population: 6.89%
National
- Number of residents: 2,669,164
- Percent of foreign born residents: 25.52%
- #1 most common country of origin

2 / 42
FPG // Getty Images

#2. Ireland

Illinois
- Number of residents: 114,563
- Percent of foreign born residents: 11.85%
- Percent of total state population: 2.38%
National
- Number of residents: 1,619,409
- Percent of foreign born residents: 15.48%
- #2 most common country of origin

3 / 42
Minnesota Historical Society // Getty Images

#3. Sweden

Illinois
- Number of residents: 99,147
- Percent of foreign born residents: 10.26%
- Percent of total state population: 2.06%
National
- Number of residents: 574,625
- Percent of foreign born residents: 5.49%
- #5 most common country of origin

4 / 42
Minnesota Historical Society // Getty Images

#4. Poland

Illinois
- Number of residents: 67,946
- Percent of foreign born residents: 7.03%
- Percent of total state population: 1.41%
National
- Number of residents: 383,595
- Percent of foreign born residents: 3.67%
- #8 most common country of origin

5 / 42
Bettmann // Getty Images

#5. England

Illinois
- Number of residents: 64,890
- Percent of foreign born residents: 6.71%
- Percent of total state population: 1.35%
National
- Number of residents: 843,491
- Percent of foreign born residents: 8.06%
- #4 most common country of origin

You may also like: Counties with the most born-and-bred residents in Illinois

6 / 42
Hulton Archive // Getty Images

#6. Canada

Illinois
- Number of residents: 50,595
- Percent of foreign born residents: 5.23%
- Percent of total state population: 1.05%
National
- Number of residents: 1,183,225
- Percent of foreign born residents: 11.31%
- #3 most common country of origin

7 / 42
FPG // Getty Images

#7. Bohemia

Illinois
- Number of residents: 38,570
- Percent of foreign born residents: 3.99%
- Percent of total state population: 0.80%
National
- Number of residents: 156,999
- Percent of foreign born residents: 1.50%
- #12 most common country of origin

8 / 42
Buyenlarge // Getty Images

#8. Norway

Illinois
- Number of residents: 29,979
- Percent of foreign born residents: 3.10%
- Percent of total state population: 0.62%
National
- Number of residents: 338,426
- Percent of foreign born residents: 3.24%
- #9 most common country of origin

9 / 42
Samuel Hopwood // Getty Images

#9. Russia

Illinois
- Number of residents: 28,707
- Percent of foreign born residents: 2.97%
- Percent of total state population: 0.60%
National
- Number of residents: 424,372
- Percent of foreign born residents: 4.06%
- #7 most common country of origin

10 / 42
Bettmann // Getty Images

#10. Italy

Illinois
- Number of residents: 23,528
- Percent of foreign born residents: 2.43%
- Percent of total state population: 0.49%
National
- Number of residents: 484,703
- Percent of foreign born residents: 4.63%
- #6 most common country of origin

You may also like: Counties with the highest rate of food insecurity in Illinois

11 / 42
Universal History Archive // Getty Images

#11. Holland

Illinois
- Number of residents: 21,916
- Percent of foreign born residents: 2.27%
- Percent of total state population: 0.45%
National
- Number of residents: 105,098
- Percent of foreign born residents: 1.00%
- #17 most common country of origin

12 / 42
Hulton Archive // Getty Images

#12. Scotland

Illinois
- Number of residents: 20,021
- Percent of foreign born residents: 2.07%
- Percent of total state population: 0.42%
National
- Number of residents: 234,699
- Percent of foreign born residents: 2.24%
- #11 most common country of origin

13 / 42
Bettmann // Getty Images

#13. Austria

Illinois
- Number of residents: 18,212
- Percent of foreign born residents: 1.88%
- Percent of total state population: 0.38%
National
- Number of residents: 276,702
- Percent of foreign born residents: 2.65%
- #10 most common country of origin

14 / 42
Bettmann // Getty Images

#14. Denmark

Illinois
- Number of residents: 15,686
- Percent of foreign born residents: 1.62%
- Percent of total state population: 0.33%
National
- Number of residents: 154,616
- Percent of foreign born residents: 1.48%
- #13 most common country of origin

15 / 42
UniversalImagesGroup // Getty Images

#15. Switzerland

Illinois
- Number of residents: 9,088
- Percent of foreign born residents: 0.94%
- Percent of total state population: 0.19%
National
- Number of residents: 115,959
- Percent of foreign born residents: 1.11%
- #15 most common country of origin

You may also like: Counties in Illinois where people spend most of their paycheck on housing

16 / 42
Universal History Archive // Getty Images

#16. France

Illinois
- Number of residents: 7,787
- Percent of foreign born residents: 0.81%
- Percent of total state population: 0.16%
National
- Number of residents: 104,534
- Percent of foreign born residents: 1.00%
- #18 most common country of origin

17 / 42
Smith Collection/Gado // Getty Images

#17. Hungary

Illinois
- Number of residents: 6,734
- Percent of foreign born residents: 0.70%
- Percent of total state population: 0.14%
National
- Number of residents: 145,815
- Percent of foreign born residents: 1.39%
- #14 most common country of origin

18 / 42
FPG // Getty Images

#18. Belgium

Illinois
- Number of residents: 4,394
- Percent of foreign born residents: 0.45%
- Percent of total state population: 0.09%
National
- Number of residents: 29,848
- Percent of foreign born residents: 0.29%
- #24 most common country of origin

19 / 42
Bettmann // Getty Images

#19. Wales

Illinois
- Number of residents: 4,364
- Percent of foreign born residents: 0.45%
- Percent of total state population: 0.09%
National
- Number of residents: 93,744
- Percent of foreign born residents: 0.90%
- #20 most common country of origin

20 / 42
Interim Archives // Getty Images

#20. Greece

Illinois
- Number of residents: 1,570
- Percent of foreign born residents: 0.16%
- Percent of total state population: 0.03%
National
- Number of residents: 8,655
- Percent of foreign born residents: 0.08%
- #31 most common country of origin

You may also like: Best counties to retire to in Illinois

21 / 42
FPG // Getty Images

#21. China

Illinois
- Number of residents: 1,462
- Percent of foreign born residents: 0.15%
- Percent of total state population: 0.03%
National
- Number of residents: 106,659
- Percent of foreign born residents: 1.02%
- #16 most common country of origin

22 / 42
Keystone-France // Getty Images

#22. Finland

Illinois
- Number of residents: 859
- Percent of foreign born residents: 0.09%
- Percent of total state population: 0.02%
National
- Number of residents: 63,440
- Percent of foreign born residents: 0.61%
- #22 most common country of origin

23 / 42
Lewis W. Hine // Getty Images

#23. Born at Sea

Illinois
- Number of residents: 736
- Percent of foreign born residents: 0.08%
- Percent of total state population: 0.02%
National
- Number of residents: 8,310
- Percent of foreign born residents: 0.08%
- #32 most common country of origin

24 / 42
Print Collector // Getty Images

#24. Asia (except China, Japan, and India)

Illinois
- Number of residents: 577
- Percent of foreign born residents: 0.06%
- Percent of total state population: 0.01%
National
- Number of residents: 11,928
- Percent of foreign born residents: 0.11%
- #27 most common country of origin

25 / 42
Smith Collection/Gado // Getty Images

#25. Luxemburg

Illinois
- Number of residents: 421
- Percent of foreign born residents: 0.04%
- Percent of total state population: 0.01%
National
- Number of residents: 3,049
- Percent of foreign born residents: 0.03%
- #37 most common country of origin

You may also like: Counties with the oldest homes in Illinois

26 / 42
Universal History Archive // Getty Images

#26. Australia

Illinois
- Number of residents: 412
- Percent of foreign born residents: 0.04%
- Percent of total state population: 0.01%
National
- Number of residents: 7,041
- Percent of foreign born residents: 0.07%
- #34 most common country of origin

27 / 42
Historical // Getty Images

#27. Atlantic Islands

Illinois
- Number of residents: 362
- Percent of foreign born residents: 0.04%
- Percent of total state population: 0.01%
National
- Number of residents: 10,955
- Percent of foreign born residents: 0.10%
- #29 most common country of origin

28 / 42
David RUBINGER // Getty Images

#28. Roumania

Illinois
- Number of residents: 312
- Percent of foreign born residents: 0.03%
- Percent of total state population: 0.01%
National
- Number of residents: 15,043
- Percent of foreign born residents: 0.14%
- #25 most common country of origin

29 / 42
Bettmann // Getty Images

#29. Turkey

Illinois
- Number of residents: 286
- Percent of foreign born residents: 0.03%
- Percent of total state population: 0.01%
National
- Number of residents: 9,949
- Percent of foreign born residents: 0.10%
- #30 most common country of origin

30 / 42
ullstein bild // Getty Images

#30. Spain

Illinois
- Number of residents: 227
- Percent of foreign born residents: 0.02%
- Percent of total state population: 0.00%
National
- Number of residents: 7,284
- Percent of foreign born residents: 0.07%
- #33 most common country of origin

You may also like: Counties with the highest rate of food insecure children in Illinois

31 / 42
Universal History Archive // Getty Images

#31. West Indies (except Cuba and Puerto Rico)

Illinois
- Number of residents: 218
- Percent of foreign born residents: 0.02%
- Percent of total state population: 0.00%
National
- Number of residents: 14,468
- Percent of foreign born residents: 0.14%
- #26 most common country of origin

32 / 42
David RUBINGER // Getty Images

#32. Portugal

Illinois
- Number of residents: 200
- Percent of foreign born residents: 0.02%
- Percent of total state population: 0.00%
National
- Number of residents: 37,144
- Percent of foreign born residents: 0.36%
- #23 most common country of origin

33 / 42
ullstein bild Dtl. // Getty Images

#33. South America

Illinois
- Number of residents: 181
- Percent of foreign born residents: 0.02%
- Percent of total state population: 0.00%
National
- Number of residents: 4,814
- Percent of foreign born residents: 0.05%
- #35 most common country of origin

34 / 42
Bettmann // Getty Images

#34. Central America

Illinois
- Number of residents: 163
- Percent of foreign born residents: 0.02%
- Percent of total state population: 0.00%
National
- Number of residents: 3,911
- Percent of foreign born residents: 0.04%
- #36 most common country of origin

35 / 42
Bettmann // Getty Images

#35. Other Countries

Illinois
- Number of residents: 162
- Percent of foreign born residents: 0.02%
- Percent of total state population: 0.00%
National
- Number of residents: 2,587
- Percent of foreign born residents: 0.02%
- #39 most common country of origin

You may also like: Highest-earning counties in Illinois

36 / 42
Bettmann // Getty Images

#36. Europe (not otherwise specified)

Illinois
- Number of residents: 158
- Percent of foreign born residents: 0.02%
- Percent of total state population: 0.00%
National
- Number of residents: 2,272
- Percent of foreign born residents: 0.02%
- #41 most common country of origin

37 / 42
Alexander Alland, Jr. // Getty Images

#37. Mexico

Illinois
- Number of residents: 156
- Percent of foreign born residents: 0.02%
- Percent of total state population: 0.00%
National
- Number of residents: 103,445
- Percent of foreign born residents: 0.99%
- #19 most common country of origin

38 / 42
Hulton Archive // Getty Images

#38. India

Illinois
- Number of residents: 133
- Percent of foreign born residents: 0.01%
- Percent of total state population: 0.00%
National
- Number of residents: 2,069
- Percent of foreign born residents: 0.02%
- #42 most common country of origin

39 / 42
Bettmann // Getty Images

#39. Africa

Illinois
- Number of residents: 131
- Percent of foreign born residents: 0.01%
- Percent of total state population: 0.00%
National
- Number of residents: 2,577
- Percent of foreign born residents: 0.02%
- #40 most common country of origin

40 / 42
Hulton Deutsch // Getty Images

#40. Cuba

Illinois
- Number of residents: 110
- Percent of foreign born residents: 0.01%
- Percent of total state population: 0.00%
National
- Number of residents: 11,159
- Percent of foreign born residents: 0.11%
- #28 most common country of origin

You may also like: Counties most concerned about climate change in Illinois

41 / 42
Historical // Getty Images

#41. Japan

Illinois
- Number of residents: 102
- Percent of foreign born residents: 0.01%
- Percent of total state population: 0.00%
National
- Number of residents: 81,590
- Percent of foreign born residents: 0.78%
- #21 most common country of origin

42 / 42
ullstein bild Dtl. // Getty Images

#42. Pacific Islands (except Phillipine Islands)

Illinois
- Number of residents: 70
- Percent of foreign born residents: 0.01%
- Percent of total state population: 0.00%
National
- Number of residents: 2,659
- Percent of foreign born residents: 0.03%
- #38 most common country of origin

Trending Now