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Midwestern United States

The Midwestern United States, also referred to as the American Midwest or simply the Midwest, is one of the four geographic regions defined by the United States Census Bureau, occupying the northern central part of the United States of America. It was officially named the North Central region by the Census Bureau until 1984.

Although the region is often defined in a number of ways, the Census Bureau's definition consists of 12 states in the north central United States: Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, Ohio, South Dakota, and Wisconsin. Illinois is the most populous of the states and North Dakota the least. A 2012 report from the United States Census put the population of the Midwest at 65,377,684. The Midwest is divided by the Census Bureau into two divisions. The East North Central Division includes Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Ohio and Wisconsin, all of which are also part of the Great Lakes region. The West North Central Division includes Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, North Dakota, Nebraska, and South Dakota, all of which, except for Iowa, Missouri and Minnesota, are located, at least partly, within the Great Plains region of the country. Major rivers in the region include, from east to west, the Ohio River, the Upper Mississippi River, and the Missouri River, constituting the main branches of the northern Mississippi River watershed.

German Immigration to the United States (by decade 1820–2004)
Decade Number of
Decade Number of
1820–1840 160,335 1921–1930 412,202
1841–1850 434,626 1931–1940 114,058
1851–1860 951,667 1941–1950 226,578
1861–1870 787,468 1951–1960 477,765
1871–1880 718,182 1961–1970 190,796
1881–1890 1,452,970 1971–1980 74,414
1891–1900 505,152 1981–1990 91,961
1901–1910 341,498 1991–2000 92,606
1911–1920 143,945 2001–2004 61,253
Total: 7,237,594
Rank City State Population
(2014 census est.)
1 Chicago IL 2,722,389
2 Indianapolis IN 848,788
3 Columbus OH 835,957
4 Detroit MI 680,250
5 Milwaukee WI 599,642
6 Kansas City MO 470,800
7 Omaha NE 446,599
8 Minneapolis MN 407,207
9 Cleveland OH 389,521
10 Wichita KS 388,413
11 St. Louis MO 317,419
12 Cincinnati OH 298,165
13 St. Paul MN 297,640
14 Toledo OH 281,031
15 Lincoln NE 272,996
16 Fort Wayne IN 260,326
Urban Areas
Rank Urban area State(s) Population
(2010 census)
1 Chicago IL-IN-WI 8,608,208
2 Detroit MI 3,734,090
3 Minneapolis-
St. Paul
MN-WI 2,650,890
4 St. Louis MO-IL 2,150,706
5 Cleveland OH 1,780,673
6 Cincinnati OH-KY-IN 1,624,827
7 Kansas City MO-KS 1,519,417
8 Indianapolis IN 1,487,483
9 Milwaukee WI 1,376,476
10 Columbus OH 1,368,035
Metro Areas - CSA
Rank Metro area State(s) Population
(2012 census est.)
1 Chicago IL-IN-WI 9,899,902
2 Detroit MI 5,311,449
3 Minneapolis-
St. Paul
MN-WI 3,759,978
4 Cleveland OH 3,497,711
5 St. Louis MO-IL 2,900,605
6 Kansas City MO-KS 2,376,631
7 Columbus OH 2,348,495
8 Indianapolis IN 2,310,360
9 Cincinnati OH-KY-IN 2,188,001
10 Milwaukee WI 2,037,542

Because they arrived first and had a strong sense of community and mission, Yankees were able to transplant New England institutions, values, and mores, altered only by the conditions of frontier life. They established a public culture that emphasized the work ethic, the sanctity of private property, individual responsibility, faith in residential and social mobility, practicality, piety, public order and decorum, reverence for public education, activists, honest, and frugal government, town meeting democracy, and he believed that there was a public interest that transcends particular and stick ambitions. Regarding themselves as the elect and just in a world rife with sin, air, and corruption, they felt a strong moral obligation to define and enforce standards of community and personal behavior....This pietistic worldview was substantially shared by British, Scandinavian, Swiss, English-Canadian and Dutch Reformed immigrants, as well as by German Protestants and many of the Forty-Eighters.
Generally subscribed to the work ethic, a strong sense of community, and activist government, but were less committed to economic individualism and privatism and ferociously opposed to government supervision of the personal habits. Southern and eastern European immigrants generally leaned more toward the Germanic view of things, while modernization, industrialization, and urbanization modified nearly everyone's sense of individual economic responsibility and put a premium on organization, political involvement, and education.
  • Illinois: Old Northwest, Mississippi River (Missouri River joins near the state border), Ohio River, and Great Lakes state.
  • Indiana: Old Northwest, Ohio River, and Great Lakes state.
  • Iowa: Louisiana Purchase, Mississippi River, and Missouri River state.
  • Kansas: Louisiana Purchase, Great Plains, and Missouri River state.
  • Michigan: Old Northwest and Great Lakes state.
  • Minnesota: Old Northwest, Louisiana Purchase, Mississippi River, part of Red River Colony before 1818, Great Lakes state.
  • Missouri: Louisiana Purchase, Mississippi River, Missouri River, and Border state.
  • Nebraska: Louisiana Purchase, Great Plains, and Missouri River state.
  • North Dakota: Louisiana Purchase, part of Red River Colony before 1818, Great Plains, and Missouri River state.
  • Ohio: Old Northwest (Historic Connecticut Western Reserve), Ohio River, and Great Lakes state. The southeastern part of the state is part of northern Appalachia.
  • South Dakota: Louisiana Purchase, Great Plains, and Missouri River state.
  • Wisconsin: Old Northwest, Mississippi River, and Great Lakes state.
  • Isáŋyathi or Isáŋathi ("Knife"): residing in the extreme east of the Dakotas, Minnesota and northern Iowa, and are often referred to as the Santee or Eastern Dakota.
  • Iháŋktȟuŋwaŋ and Iháŋktȟuŋwaŋna ("Village-at-the-end" and "little village-at-the-end"): residing in the Minnesota River area, they are considered the middle Sioux, and are often referred to as the Yankton and the Yanktonai, or, collectively, as the Wičhíyena (endonym) or the Western Dakota (and have been erroneously classified as Nakota).
  • Thítȟuŋwaŋ or Teton (uncertain) : the westernmost Sioux, known for their hunting and warrior culture, are often referred to as the Lakota.
  • Frederick; John T., ed. Out of the Midwest: A Collection of Present-Day Writing (1944) literary excerpts online edition
  • Aley, Ginette et al. eds. Union Heartland: The Midwestern Home Front during the Civil War (2013)
  • Barlow, Philip, and Mark Silk. Religion and Public Life in the Midwest: America's Common Denominator? (2004)
  • Billington, Ray Allen. "The Origins of Middle Western Isolationism." Political Science Quarterly (1945): 44-64. in JSTOR
  • Buley, R. Carlyle. The Old Northwest: Pioneer Period 1815–1840 2 vol (1951), Pulitzer Prize
  • Cayton, Andrew R. L. Midwest and the Nation (1990)
  • Cayton, Andrew R. L. and Susan E. Gray, Eds. The Identity of the American Midwest: Essays on Regional History. (2001)
  • Cronon, William. Nature's Metropolis: Chicago and the Great West (1992), 1850–1900 excerpt and text search
  • Garland, John H. The North American Midwest: A Regional Geography (1955)
  • Gjerde, John. Minds of the West: Ethnocultural Evolution in the Rural Middle West, 1830–1917 (1999) excerpt and text search
  • High, Stephen C. Industrial Sunset: The Making of North America's Rust Belt, 1969–1984 (Toronto, 2003)
  • Jensen, Richard. The Winning of the Midwest: Social and Political Conflict, 1888–1896 (1971) online free
  • Longworth, Richard C. Caught in the Middle: America's Heartland in the Age of Globalism (2008)
  • Meyer, David R. "Midwestern Industrialization and the American Manufacturing Belt in the Nineteenth Century", The Journal of Economic History, Vol. 49, No. 4 (December 1989) pp. 921– JSTOR
  • Nelson, Daniel. Farm and Factory: Workers in the Midwest 1880–1990 (1995),
  • Nordin, Dennis S., and Roy V. Scott. From Prairie Farmer to Entrepreneur: The Transformation of Midwestern Agriculture. (2005) 356pp.
  • Nye, Russel B. Midwestern Progressive Politics (1959)
  • Page, Brian, and Richard Walker. "From settlement to Fordism: the agro-industrial revolution in the American Midwest." Economic Geography (1991): 281-315. in JSTOR
  • Scheiber, Harry N. ed. The Old Northwest; studies in regional history, 1787–1910 (1969) 16 essays by scholars on economic and social topics
  • Shannon, Fred A. "The Status of the Midwestern Farmer in 1900" The Mississippi Valley Historical Review. Vol. 37, No. 3. (December 1950), pp. 491–510. in JSTOR
  • Shortridge, James R. The Middle West: Its Meaning in American Culture (1989)
  • Sisson, Richard, Christian Zacher, and Andrew Cayton, eds. The American Midwest: An Interpretive Encyclopedia (Indiana University Press, 2006), 1916 pp of articles by scholars on all topics covering the 12 states
  • Slade, Joseph W. and Judith Lee. The Midwest: The Greenwood Encyclopedia of American Regional Cultures (2004)
  • Teaford, Jon C. Cities of the Heartland: The Rise and Fall of the Industrial Midwest (1993)
  • Tucker, Spencer, ed. American Civil War: A State-by-State Encyclopedia (2 vol 2015) 1019pp excerpt
  • Wuthnow, Robert. Remaking the Heartland: Middle America Since the 1950s (Princeton University Press; 2011) 358 pages
  • Brown, David S. Beyond the Frontier: The Midwestern Voice in American Historical Writing (2009)
  • Good, David F. "American History through a Midwestern Lens." Wirtschaft und Gesellschaft 38.2 (2012): 435+ online
  • Lauck, Jon K. The Lost Region: Toward a Revival of Midwestern History (University of Iowa Press; 2013) 166 pages; criticizes the neglect of the Midwest in contemporary historiography and argues for a revival of attention


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