The Spatial and Demographic History of Belgian-Americans

Marie V. Bousfield, Independent Researcher

In this study, we focus on Belgian immigrants and their descendants in the U.S. between 1850 and 1930. We compile and analyze data on basic demographic characteristics including parentage, intermarriage, family composition, mother tongue, and occupation. To illustrate the evolution of Belgian-American communities, we use maps at national, state, and county levels for selected census years. We broadly link our findings to Belgian and U.S. historical events and demographic trends. In addition, we use micro data from the 1880 through 1930 censuses and techniques developed by Joseph Ferrie to create a sample of households observed over time. Using the sample, we link patterns of household formation and domestic migration with industrial development and urbanization. We obtain much of our data from census reports, administrative sources, the Integrated Public Use Microdata Series, the North Atlantic Population Project, and genealogical sources.

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Presented in Poster Session 2