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April Map of the Month – Ancestry in Hampton Roads

April Map of the Month – Ancestry in Hampton Roads

On Friday, April 1, 2022, the 1950 census was made available to the public after a 72-year waiting period. The paper census forms that were filled out in April 1950 are available for viewing for the first time – digitized and online. This once-in-a-decade release of census information is of particular interest to genealogists and family historians who are tracing their ancestors.

In recognition of the release of these historic census images, this month’s map depicts the self-reported ancestry of individuals in Hampton Roads. In previous decades, the decennial census asked a question about an individual’s ancestry. This question is now asked as a part of the American Community Survey (ACS) program. The primary purpose of the decennial census is to obtain a true count of the population to correctly apportion representation in Congress. The ACS is an annual survey of a select number of US residents to reveal more detailed demographic and social characteristics of the population. The latest iteration is the 2016-2020 ACS 5-Year Estimates which were released in March 2022, delayed by several months due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Map of Hampton Roads depicting self-reported ancestry of individuals in Hampton Roads

Each person surveyed in the ACS provided up to two choices representing the ancestry group(s) they identify with, but they were not required to answer. Since the categories are self-reported, the responses may represent the origins of one’s parents, the origins of more distant ancestors, or reflect their culture. Some even selected “American.” The reported numbers are estimates derived from the survey, but they provide a way to compare the relative size of the groups or identify areas where certain groups may reside for outreach purposes. There is a 90% confidence level with these estimates. Please read this month’s Hampton Roads Economic Monthly for an in-depth discussion of the 2016-2020 ACS program.

The top 10 ancestry categories in Hampton Roads in 2020 are:


% of total respondents*











Sub-Saharan African











* Not a percentage of the total population; respondents could choose up to two categories.

The top ten categories are displayed on the map by census tract and symbolized by the most predominant category in that tract. To see even more ancestry categories, such as Norwegian, Czech, or Arab, click on the map to view the details in the information pane.