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Ancestry Tutorial

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  1. Now that we have an understanding of how the Census Bureau defines ancestry, we can start our search for ancestry data.
  2. For this example, we will show you how to access statistics on Norwegian ancestry in the state of Minnesota, through the U.S. Census Bureau's American FactFinder data access tool.
  3. To start, go to The U.S. Census Bureau main page displays.
  4. Now let us access the Ancestry data. From the home page, select “Data” from the Header line and click American FactFinder. The American FactFinder home page displays.
  5. In the middle of the page, under “Quick Start”, type “ancestry” in the “topic or table name” box. Then in the “state, county or place” text box, type “Minnesota.” Now, click Go.  The “Your Selections” box shows your search criteria and your “search results” page displays.
  6. The results show the tables related to your search.
  7. Click on the “Topics” tab on the left. A “Select Topics” window will appear.   Select Dataset. The Dataset categories expand and display.
  8. The latest data comes from the 2010 American Community Survey, or the 2010 ACS. Select the 2010 ACS 1-year estimates. The ACS 1-year estimates are based on locations with populations that meet or exceed 65,000. We know that all states meet this criterion, so we are able to use the 1-year estimates for Minnesota.
  9. Your search results refine to display only the 1-year estimates data.
  10. In the search results box, you will find 14 different tables referencing ancestry. In the "B" or Base tables, there are over 100 ancestries listed. In the "C" or Collapsed Tables there are only 30 major ancestries listed. To illustrate the difference between the B and C tables, let's use the example of Nigerian ancestry. For most states and larger cities, the "B" table would list Nigerian ancestry separately. For smaller areas, where the estimate would be lower, the “C” tables would list those who reported Nigerian ancestry only as Sub-Saharan African.
  11. From the Search Results box, check table B04006.  We chose this table to reflect the number of people reporting Norwegian ancestry in the total population.
  12. The Results page displays a table that contains the statistics for Norwegian ancestry.
  13. Note that Minnesota has a strong showing with approximately 840,890 people who reported Norwegian ancestry.
  14. Congratulations! You have successfully learned how the Census Bureau’s definies ancestry. and found the number of people that reported Norwegian ancestry.
  15. For more information on Ancestry, data please go to
  16. If you would like additional information on how to access historical U.S. documents and records, documents and materials on your family history, request military records, or educational resources, please contact the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) at
  17. This concludes this tutorial brought to you by the U.S. Census Bureau.
  18. For additional assistance, contact our Customer Services Call Center at 1-800-923-8282.  You can visit us at to chat with a live operator.  You can also submit your questions through our website at
  19. The U.S. Census Bureau - Measuring America - People, Places and Our Economy.

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