Numerous Ohioans are Hispanic or Latino. Today, these Ohioans continue to enhance Ohio's cultural and social landscape.
During the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, millions of immigrants migrated to the United States of America, hoping to live the American Dream. Before the American Civil War, most immigrants arrived in the United States from Great Britain, Germany, and Ireland. By the 1880s, the home countries of immigrants began to change. Many of the new immigrants to arrive in the United States came from Eastern European countries, like Austria, Poland, Hungary, and Czechoslovakia, rather than from Western European countries, like Great Britain, Ireland, and Germany. Very few migrants arrived from Hispanic nations, including from Spain and the various nations in Central America and South America.
In 1860, 328,249 immigrants lived in Ohio. These people accounted for fourteen percent of the state's population. By 1900, the number of immigrants in Ohio rose to 458,734, but the percentage of the population that was foreign-born declined to eleven percent. Most of these immigrants in 1900 came from Germany, Great Britain, and Ireland, yet a growing number of Eastern Europeans were also migrating to the state.
For most of Ohio's history, very few Hispanics settled in the state. In 1900, only four Latinos resided in Cleveland, Ohio, and most of Ohio's major cities claimed similar numbers of Hispanics. The few Latinos in Ohio typically found low-paying jobs in factories or as day laborers, commonly working farmers' fields as migrant laborers. More successful immigrants established businesses that supplied their fellow migrants with traditional Hispanic products. Unlike most other immigrant groups, due to the small number of Hispanics in Ohio, Latinos, for the most part, did not develop distinct communities or neighborhoods in the state's major cities.
Beginning in the 1960s, a surge in Hispanic immigration to the United States occurred. Most Latino immigrants came from Central and South American countries rather than from Spain, hoping for more economic opportunity in the United States. Ohio's Hispanic population soared. By 2006, almost 264,000 Ohioans claimed Latino heritage. This number amounted to 2.3% of Ohio's entire population. Between 1960 and 2006, the heaviest concentration of Hispanic Ohioans occurred in central Ohio. Distinct Latino communities formed in Columbus and other major Ohio cities. Most Hispanics continued to find employment as factory or farm laborers, but several Latinos succeeded in opening successful restaurants and specialty stores.
As Ohio's Hispanic population increased during the late twentieth century, numerous institutions also formed to assist these new arrivals. The Ohio Hispanic Coalition and the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce for Ohio are private organizations created to assist Ohio's Latino populace. The Ohio government also established the Ohio Commission on Hispanic/Latino Affairs to advise state officials on Latino issues.
Some white Ohioans have shown intolerance to the Hispanic immigrants. Still, Latino Ohioans, through their businesses and festivals, such as Festival Latino, have dramatically enhanced the state's cultural landscape.
- Van Tassel, David D., and John J. Grabowski, eds. The Encyclopedia of Cleveland History. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1996.