Ukrainians in the United States: A research agenda

In order to analyze Ukrainians in the US, it is necessary to have an operational definition of “Ukrainians in the US”. There are basically two choices: a) all residents in the US who migrated from Ukraine and their descendants; b) all persons who in some fashion identify themselves as of Ukrainian origin. The first choice is not useful for two reasons: a) since the beginning of organized migration of Ukrainians to the US in the later part of the 19th century, the territory of what is currently Ukraine belonged to different countries (Austro-Hungarian Empire, Poland, Czechoslovakia, Hungary, etc.) and it is impossible to determine objectively which of those immigrants were Ukrainian; b) due to intermarriage, many of these descendants have multiple ancestries.

Data collected by the US population census since 1980 allows one to construct an operational definition using criteria b). Based on the question “what is your ancestry or ethnic origin?”, which allows one or two answers, we define “Ukrainian in the US” as any person who declared “Ukrainian” as their unique, first or second ancestry. This question has been asked in the 1980, 1990 and 2000 censuses, and in the yearly American Community Surveys (ACS) since 2005. This definition is applied when using census or ACS data.

An integrated data base has been constructed by extracting from the total census and ACS data sets all persons who had “Ukrainian” as their unique, first or second ancestry. In order to address other research issues, we also added to this data base persons who did not satisfy the ancestry criteria, but were born in Ukraine or speak Ukrainian at home.

A second data set presented here is based on immigration statistics produced by the Homeland Security Department. Here the information is collected in terms of country of birth and, in some cases, country of previous residence of country of citizenship. Unless noted otherwise, here “Ukrainians in the US” will be defined as immigrants born in Ukraine. Tabulations on two types of data are presented: immigrants (including adopted orphans) and nonimmigrants (temporary visitors). Both sets of data, census and survey-based and immigration statistics based, are updated on a yearly basis.

The web site presents interactive and fixed table, maps and graphs based on the two data sets. Later on the census/ACS data bases will also be posted on this web site, and users will be able to construct their own tables and/or download the data bases and do their own analyses.

The Research Center has at least three constituencies: a) academic community (in the US, Ukraine and other countries); b) diaspora organizations in the US; c) Government of Ukraine. We hope it will motivate scholars to do research on Ukrainians in the US, provide useful data to Ukrainian organizations in the US, as well as the Government of Ukraine.