What West Virginia's immigrant population looked like in 1900

Written by:
March 26, 2022
Hulton Deutsch // Getty Images

What West Virginia's 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 West Virginia 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.

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Lewis W. Hine // Getty Images

#1. Germany

West Virginia
- Number of residents: 6,537
- Percent of foreign born residents: 29.12%
- Percent of total state population: 0.68%
National
- Number of residents: 2,669,164
- Percent of foreign born residents: 25.52%
- #1 most common country of origin

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FPG // Getty Images

#2. Ireland

West Virginia
- Number of residents: 3,842
- Percent of foreign born residents: 17.11%
- Percent of total state population: 0.40%
National
- Number of residents: 1,619,409
- Percent of foreign born residents: 15.48%
- #2 most common country of origin

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Bettmann // Getty Images

#3. Italy

West Virginia
- Number of residents: 2,921
- Percent of foreign born residents: 13.01%
- Percent of total state population: 0.30%
National
- Number of residents: 484,703
- Percent of foreign born residents: 4.63%
- #6 most common country of origin

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Bettmann // Getty Images

#4. England

West Virginia
- Number of residents: 2,622
- Percent of foreign born residents: 11.68%
- Percent of total state population: 0.27%
National
- Number of residents: 843,491
- Percent of foreign born residents: 8.06%
- #4 most common country of origin

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#5. Austria

West Virginia
- Number of residents: 1,025
- Percent of foreign born residents: 4.57%
- Percent of total state population: 0.11%
National
- Number of residents: 276,702
- Percent of foreign born residents: 2.65%
- #10 most common country of origin

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Hulton Archive // Getty Images

#6. Scotland

West Virginia
- Number of residents: 855
- Percent of foreign born residents: 3.81%
- Percent of total state population: 0.09%
National
- Number of residents: 234,699
- Percent of foreign born residents: 2.24%
- #11 most common country of origin

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Smith Collection/Gado // Getty Images

#7. Hungary

West Virginia
- Number of residents: 810
- Percent of foreign born residents: 3.61%
- Percent of total state population: 0.08%
National
- Number of residents: 145,815
- Percent of foreign born residents: 1.39%
- #14 most common country of origin

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Samuel Hopwood // Getty Images

#8. Russia

West Virginia
- Number of residents: 721
- Percent of foreign born residents: 3.21%
- Percent of total state population: 0.08%
National
- Number of residents: 424,372
- Percent of foreign born residents: 4.06%
- #7 most common country of origin

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Hulton Archive // Getty Images

#9. Canada

West Virginia
- Number of residents: 711
- Percent of foreign born residents: 3.17%
- Percent of total state population: 0.07%
National
- Number of residents: 1,183,225
- Percent of foreign born residents: 11.31%
- #3 most common country of origin

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#10. Switzerland

West Virginia
- Number of residents: 696
- Percent of foreign born residents: 3.10%
- Percent of total state population: 0.07%
National
- Number of residents: 115,959
- Percent of foreign born residents: 1.11%
- #15 most common country of origin

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Minnesota Historical Society // Getty Images

#11. Poland

West Virginia
- Number of residents: 638
- Percent of foreign born residents: 2.84%
- Percent of total state population: 0.07%
National
- Number of residents: 383,595
- Percent of foreign born residents: 3.67%
- #8 most common country of origin

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Bettmann // Getty Images

#12. Wales

West Virginia
- Number of residents: 482
- Percent of foreign born residents: 2.15%
- Percent of total state population: 0.05%
National
- Number of residents: 93,744
- Percent of foreign born residents: 0.90%
- #20 most common country of origin

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Universal History Archive // Getty Images

#13. France

West Virginia
- Number of residents: 298
- Percent of foreign born residents: 1.33%
- Percent of total state population: 0.03%
National
- Number of residents: 104,534
- Percent of foreign born residents: 1.00%
- #18 most common country of origin

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Minnesota Historical Society // Getty Images

#14. Sweden

West Virginia
- Number of residents: 182
- Percent of foreign born residents: 0.81%
- Percent of total state population: 0.02%
National
- Number of residents: 574,625
- Percent of foreign born residents: 5.49%
- #5 most common country of origin

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Print Collector // Getty Images

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

West Virginia
- Number of residents: 148
- Percent of foreign born residents: 0.66%
- Percent of total state population: 0.02%
National
- Number of residents: 11,928
- Percent of foreign born residents: 0.11%
- #27 most common country of origin

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Interim Archives // Getty Images

#16. Greece

West Virginia
- Number of residents: 108
- Percent of foreign born residents: 0.48%
- Percent of total state population: 0.01%
National
- Number of residents: 8,655
- Percent of foreign born residents: 0.08%
- #31 most common country of origin

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FPG // Getty Images

#17. Belgium

West Virginia
- Number of residents: 79
- Percent of foreign born residents: 0.35%
- Percent of total state population: 0.01%
National
- Number of residents: 29,848
- Percent of foreign born residents: 0.29%
- #24 most common country of origin

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#18. Denmark

West Virginia
- Number of residents: 60
- Percent of foreign born residents: 0.27%
- Percent of total state population: 0.01%
National
- Number of residents: 154,616
- Percent of foreign born residents: 1.48%
- #13 most common country of origin

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FPG // Getty Images

#19. China

West Virginia
- Number of residents: 47
- Percent of foreign born residents: 0.21%
- Percent of total state population: 0.00%
National
- Number of residents: 106,659
- Percent of foreign born residents: 1.02%
- #16 most common country of origin

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Bettmann // Getty Images

#20. Central America

West Virginia
- Number of residents: 27
- Percent of foreign born residents: 0.12%
- 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

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FPG // Getty Images

#21. Bohemia

West Virginia
- Number of residents: 27
- Percent of foreign born residents: 0.12%
- Percent of total state population: 0.00%
National
- Number of residents: 156,999
- Percent of foreign born residents: 1.50%
- #12 most common country of origin

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#22. Europe (not otherwise specified)

West Virginia
- Number of residents: 23
- Percent of foreign born residents: 0.10%
- 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

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Universal History Archive // Getty Images

#23. Holland

West Virginia
- Number of residents: 22
- Percent of foreign born residents: 0.10%
- Percent of total state population: 0.00%
National
- Number of residents: 105,098
- Percent of foreign born residents: 1.00%
- #17 most common country of origin

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Universal History Archive // Getty Images

#24. Australia

West Virginia
- Number of residents: 21
- Percent of foreign born residents: 0.09%
- Percent of total state population: 0.00%
National
- Number of residents: 7,041
- Percent of foreign born residents: 0.07%
- #34 most common country of origin

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#25. Turkey

West Virginia
- Number of residents: 20
- Percent of foreign born residents: 0.09%
- Percent of total state population: 0.00%
National
- Number of residents: 9,949
- Percent of foreign born residents: 0.10%
- #30 most common country of origin

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Lewis W. Hine // Getty Images

#26. Born at Sea

West Virginia
- Number of residents: 19
- Percent of foreign born residents: 0.08%
- Percent of total state population: 0.00%
National
- Number of residents: 8,310
- Percent of foreign born residents: 0.08%
- #32 most common country of origin

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Buyenlarge // Getty Images

#27. Norway

West Virginia
- Number of residents: 19
- Percent of foreign born residents: 0.08%
- Percent of total state population: 0.00%
National
- Number of residents: 338,426
- Percent of foreign born residents: 3.24%
- #9 most common country of origin

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Universal History Archive // Getty Images

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

West Virginia
- Number of residents: 11
- Percent of foreign born residents: 0.05%
- 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

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Alexander Alland, Jr. // Getty Images

#29. Mexico

West Virginia
- Number of residents: 7
- Percent of foreign born residents: 0.03%
- 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

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ullstein bild Dtl. // Getty Images

#30. South America

West Virginia
- Number of residents: 6
- Percent of foreign born residents: 0.03%
- 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

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Keystone-France // Getty Images

#31. Finland

West Virginia
- Number of residents: 6
- Percent of foreign born residents: 0.03%
- Percent of total state population: 0.00%
National
- Number of residents: 63,440
- Percent of foreign born residents: 0.61%
- #22 most common country of origin

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#32. Spain

West Virginia
- Number of residents: 5
- 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

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Hulton Archive // Getty Images

#33. India

West Virginia
- Number of residents: 3
- 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

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Bettmann // Getty Images

#34. Other Countries

West Virginia
- Number of residents: 2
- Percent of foreign born residents: 0.01%
- 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

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Historical // Getty Images

#35. Atlantic Islands

West Virginia
- Number of residents: 2
- Percent of foreign born residents: 0.01%
- Percent of total state population: 0.00%
National
- Number of residents: 10,955
- Percent of foreign born residents: 0.10%
- #29 most common country of origin

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Bettmann // Getty Images

#36. Africa

West Virginia
- Number of residents: 2
- 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

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#37. Roumania

West Virginia
- Number of residents: 1
- Percent of foreign born residents: 0.00%
- Percent of total state population: 0.00%
National
- Number of residents: 15,043
- Percent of foreign born residents: 0.14%
- #25 most common country of origin

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Hulton Deutsch // Getty Images

#38. Cuba

West Virginia
- Number of residents: 1
- Percent of foreign born residents: 0.00%
- 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

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