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Friday's Food For Thought: Mapping Surnames

Interactive Map Reveals Most Popular Names in US

By Lindsay Tilton

National Geographic recently released an interactive map showing the most common surnames of U.S. residents. Users can zoom in and out of the map to view the different names and what areas they are most popular. According to this map, Smith, Johnson, and Williams are some of the most popular names in the U.S. because of how they dominate the map. 

Also, this graphic shows surnames in a range of fonts to represent how prominent the name is in certain areas, as the key shows. For example, the largest font for Johnson is in California, which shows there are more than 125,000 people with that last name in that one area. Not only does the map reveal some of the most popular surnames, but it also shows the diversity of the country. Each name is color-coded as a way of representing the origins of the names. While English and Scottish names seem to be evenly spread throughout the country, Spanish surnames are highly populated in southwestern states and Irish names are most prominent in the New England region.