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Migration from Europe to the US 1820-1957

In the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, the majority of documented migration to the United States of American came from European countries. Between 1820 and 1957, of the approximate 41 million migrants to the US, over 34 million of these came from Europe. The most commonly documented countries of origin during this time were Germany (6.6 million), Italy (4.9 million), Ireland (4.6 million), Great Britain (4.5 million), and Russia (3.4 million). The first wave of mass migration came in the 1850s, as the Great famine crippled Ireland's population, and many in rural areas of mainland Europe struggled to adapt to industrialization, and economic opportunities attracted many in the 1870s, following the American Civil War. The 1880s saw another wave, as steam powered ships and lower fares made trans-Atlantic journeys much more affordable. The first wave of mass migration from Eastern and Southern Europe also arrived at this time, as industrialization and agricultural advancements led to high unemployment in these regions.
The majority of migrants to the United States settled in major urban centers, which allowed the expansion of industry, leading to the United States' emergence as one of the leading global economies at the turn of the twentieth century. The largest wave of migration to the United states during this period came in the first fifteen years of the 1900s. The influx of migrants from Northern and Western Europe had now been replaced by an influx from Eastern and Southern Europe (although migration from the British Isles was still quite high during this time). European migration fell to it's lowest levels in eighty years during the First World War, before fluctuating again in the interwar period, due to the Great Depression. As the twentieth century progressed, the continent with the highest levels of migration to the US gradually changed from Europe to Latin America, as economic opportunities in Western Europe improved, and the US' relationship with the Soviet Union and other Eastern, communist states became complicated.

Number of documented migrants from Europe to the United States between 1820 and 1957

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Release date

August 2019


Europe, United States

Survey time period

1820 to 1957

Supplementary notes

Release date is date of extraction.

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