Romani people in the United States

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Romani people in the United States
Roma Americans
Romani Americans
American Gypsies
Flag of the United States.svgFlag of the Romani people.svg
Total population
est. 1,000,000[1]
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Romani people
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It is estimated that there are one million Romani people in the United States. Though the Romani population in the United States have assimilated into American society, the largest concentrations are in Southern California, the Pacific Northwest, Texas and the Northeast as well as in cities such as Chicago and St. Louis.[1][2] Commonly referred to as "Gypsies", the Romani, ethnically and genealogically disparate from other Europeans, began settling in America in the mid 19th century.

The largest wave of Romani immigrants came after the abolition of Romani slavery in Romania in 1864. Romani immigration to the United States has continued at a steady rate ever since, though a large-scale surge of Romani immigration followed the 1989 collapse of Communism in Central and Eastern Europe.[1]

Due both to the size of the American Romani population and the absence of a historical and cultural presence, such as the Romani have in Europe, Americans are largely unaware of the existence of the Romani as a people, associating the term "gypsies" with a trade or profession more than a cultural and ethnic heritage.[1] Due to the term's lack of significance within the United States, many Romani do not use the term around non-Romani: identifying themselves by nationality rather than heritage.[3] The U.S. Census does not distinguish Romani as a group, since it is neither a nationality nor a religion.[1]


Distribution of Romani Americans according to the 2000 census and other resources interpreted by the U.S. English Foundation[citation needed]

The Romanichal, the first Romani group to arrive in North America in large numbers, came to America from the British Isles around 1850. Eastern European Romani, the ancestors of most of the Romani population in the United States today, began immigrating to the United States on a large scale over the latter half of the century, following their liberation from slavery in Romania. This wave of Romani immigration comprised Romani-speaking peoples like the Kalderash, Machvaya, Lovari and Churari, as well as ethnically Romani groups that had integrated more within the Central and Eastern European societies, such as the Boyash (Ludari) of Romania and the Bashalde of Slovakia.[4] Romani immigration, like all Central and Eastern European migration, was severely limited during the Soviet era in Central and Eastern Europe, but picked up again in the 1990s after the fall of the Eastern Bloc.


  • Ludar: Hailing from North of the Balkans, Hungary, and the Banat, the Ludari, also known as Rudari, Boyash, or Banyash, are a subculture of Romani who arrived during the late 19th and early 20th centuries.[5]
  • Hungarian-Slovak Romani: The Romani of Northern Hungary largely settled in industrial cities of the Northern United States near the turn of the century. Among Romani from these areas were Olah, Romungre, and Bashalde immigrants. They were noted for their musical traditions and popularized "Gypsy music" in the United States by performing in cafes, night clubs and restaurants. Their prevalence in show business made Hungarian-Slovak Romani the most visible of the Romani groups arriving in America at the turn of the century and helped to shape the modern American idea of a "gypsy".[5]

See also[edit]


Further reading[edit]

  • Albert Thomas Sinclair (1917). George Fraser Black, ed. American Gypsies. Contributor New York Public Library. New York Public Library. Retrieved 24 April 2014. 
  • Albert Thomas Sinclair (1915). George Fraser Black, ed. An American-Romani Vocabulary. Contributor New York Public Library (reprint ed.). New York public library. Retrieved 24 April 2014. 

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