Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Surname distribution in the United States

I came across a delightful mapping tool on the web today. It is a simple mash-up of surname data from the Census Bureau and white pages telephone directories on the one hand, and a map of the 50 states on the other. It's a lot of fun and rather informative to look at how certain last names have "traveled through time" across the United States.

Here are a few of my favorite examples:

A common Amish (Pennsylvania Dutch) name, like Yoder:

A surname with strong ties to the Mormon faith, such as Larsen:

The predominantly Hispanic surnames of Gomez:

...and of Sanchez:

Or, there is Olson, a common Scandinavian surname popularly found in the northern plains:

It's interesting to note the wide distribution of the Vietnamese name Nguyen, but the only significant record begins in 1990:

Many thanks to the Hamrick Software company for devising this useful tool. (Hamrick's primary product is photo scanning software, so if you're in the market for that, check them out.)

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