51 or 52 United States?

United States on a global map.Many people recall the United States including 51 or 52 states, not 50.

The interesting point is that the memories are fairly consistent, and include Puerto Rico as a state. One teacher suggested this is a common misunderstanding. The daughter of a teacher said that she clearly recalls her mother teaching students that the 52 states included Puerto Rico.

So, is this simple confusion or a glimpse into alternate geography in another timestream?

Ben Conroy said:

My experience doesnt involve a memory as much as a strange coincidence. For years I firmly believed there to be 52 states in America. Quite a shock when I found out there was only 50,

After this, I must have asked 25-30 people (in Europe, as I’m Irish), literally everbody I met, how many states in America. Every one said 52. After I said there was 50, their reaction remained ‘oh yea. wierd.’

Maybe theres another explanation for it, but occasionally I still ask and hear 52!

I encourage anybody reading this to ask people away from America (who wouldn’t know as readily) and see how many times 52 is replied!

Joy replied:

I’m from Portugal, and I thought it was 52 states in America too!

Victor agreed:

What the heck? I always thought there were 52 States in America. I’m from Brazil btw.

Jasper Allen (in the U.K.) said the same:

I was also taught at school that America had 52 states.

Siphakeme said:

i grew studying that the US has 52 states too

Kassia said:

52 States (I am European),etc, etc.

aragami agreed:

52 states in the US

miss_fionna said:

I also remember being taught that there was 52 states with Alaska being number 51 (even though at this point I only remember there being 50, and that was over ten years ago.

Kate said:

I seem to have a fuzzy memory of 52 states as well. And i remembered it was 52, because it was the same as the number of cards in a deck. Suddenly at some point it was 50, and I remember thinking…I ‘know’ it was 52. Suddenly teachers were telling me…’You’re confusing this with the number of cards in a deck” which I thought was weird because that’s how we remembered it as kids.

Pam said:

I can say that I live in the US and for some reason I could swear that 52 states has a familiarity. I know I have a couple times had to really think before I said 52 or 52 because I knew it was off somehow. Or I would reword my phrase to not mention a number because I just was not sure anymore.

David (who has an alternate Mandela memory) confirmed confusion about the states:

I am US History teacher in the US and my American students often mistakenly think there are 51 or 52 states at which I just shake my head and say,”kids today.”
I think it’s because there was a lot of talk about Puerto Rico becoming a state, which would have been the 51st… but it hasn’t happened yet.

L. said:

Also, I remember my mother always saying 52 states instead of 50 when I was growing up and getting annoyed because she was a teacher and thats such common knowledge.

Josh asked:

To the people who remember being taught about 52 States, do you remember the names of the other two?

miss_fiona said:

I remember arguing with our teacher over the number because I had been taught that there was fifty until that point. According to her Hawaii was the 51st state, but I don’t remember what she said was the 52nd.

Hoss listed the 52 states as he recalls them, including Puerto Rico and D.C.:

1. Alabama, 2. Alaska, 3. Arizona, 4. Arkansas 5. Colorado 6. California, 7. Connecticut, 8. Delaware, 9. Florida, 10. Georgia, 11. Hawaii, 12. Illinois, 13. Indiana, 14. Idaho, 15. Iowa, 16. Kentucky, 17. Kansas, 18. Louisiana, 19. Massachusetts, 20. Maryland, 21. Mississippi, 22. Maine, 23. Missouri, 24. Michigan 25. Minnesota, 26. Montana, 27. New Jersey, 28. New York, 29. North Carolina 30. New Hampshire, 31. Nevada, 32. Nebraska, 33. North Dakota 34. New Mexico, 35. Oklahoma, 36. Ohio, 37. Oregon, 38. Pennsylvania, 39. Puerto Rico. 40. Rhode Island 41. South Carolina, 42. South Dakota, 43. Tennessee, 44. Texas, 45. Utah, 46. Virginia, 47. Vermont, 48. Wisconsin, 49. West Virginia, 50. Washington, 51. Wyoming, 52. Washington DC

So, I think the question really is: In an alternate timeline, did Puerto Rico already become a state? Or, did the District of Columbia become one, separately or as well?

Or, is this simply confusion over districts, territories, and states?

Note: Comments that say that there really are 50 states in this timestream, will be deleted. We already know that. That’s exactly why 51 or 52 states seem like an anomaly, and worth discussing at this website.

Illustration credit: Addicted04, at Wikipedia.

155 thoughts on “51 or 52 United States?

  1. Will

    It sounds like teachers outside of the US do not address the difference in rights between a Federal US territory and a State US territory. Instead they call the US territories states.
    Americans call Canadian and Australian territories states too, but we don’t bother with remembering the number of them because we can count them with our fingers.

    1. Fiona Broome Post author

      Will, it sounds like you have more fingers than I do, unless you’re not counting Canadian provinces at all. That would be odd, but technically correct if you’re focusing on territories.

      Of course, some Americans don’t realize how neighboring countries are organised.

      Regarding Canadian provinces and territories, here’s what Wikipedia says: “Canada’s external borders have changed several times. It has grown from four initial provinces to ten provinces and three territories as of 1999. The ten provinces are Alberta, British Columbia, Manitoba, New Brunswick, Newfoundland and Labrador, Nova Scotia, Ontario, Prince Edward Island, Quebec, and Saskatchewan. The three territories are Northwest Territories, Nunavut, and Yukon.”

      That’s a total of 13, as I count them.

      1. Eric

        I learned in school Canada was 4 provinces (rectangles of roughly the same size), a “northern territory” across the top of them from Atlantic across hudson bay to the pacific, and that’s it.

        I just looked on Wikipedia and that map isn’t even like “I was close and remember that wrong” or “some area became its own province”. That is a COMPLETELY different Canada then mine,

    2. TrickyD

      I remember as a child confusing the number of states with the number of cards in a deck 52 cards in a deck and 50 states in the usa. i thought there was the same amount of each 52 .It wasnt until later in life i confirmed the 50 states in the usa . But remember obamas campain speech where he said he visited all 57 states? Maybe that ties into this topic somehow?

    3. candie

      I grew up in puerto rico and was thought 50 states of course that was b4 Hawaii., i went to school back in the early 70’s and was thought that puerto Rico is a associated liberal state. Not yet a state! A good bio to read about puerto rico and albiso campos .

    4. Brianna

      I live in New York in America. In high school I was talking with a girl after school about our country and she said we had 52 states and Puerto Rico was a state. I told her she was absurd and we walked back into the school to ask a teacher. She also said Alaska was not a state. It was a weird thing I overlooked until now.

    5. Xtina

      I always felt weird about this but I remember learning that we had 52 states and it took a while for me to be corrected and that we had 50 later and to check the flags stars to remember. I also had a weird amnesia episode though around that time though, so I never give myself any creditability back then.

    6. Frankie

      Wow amazing I’m reading this because I home thought I was told 52 in school and last year I lived in a program with 500 other people well in the hallway I waited by the stairwell and asked everyone I saw coming in how many states did they believe was in America and oddly enough a staggering amount of people believed 52 was correct maybe 1 out 4 were in the same boat as me and ridiculed we were how dumb could we be to get this wrong but I remember social studies class learning 52 states and aparantley so does a whole bunch of people so witch is it are we creating false memories or did history change but our memory’s preserved pieces of a known fact of history we lived and some how we are affected by time travel or a parallel universe

  2. Karenanne

    I am from England and I thought there were 50 states and then they added Alaska and Hawaii, making 52.

    1. Irene

      I am from Canada and that is what I was taught also. 50 states until Alaska and Hawaii were added making 52.

      1. scout

        I specifically remember being a kid and watching that FRIENDS episode where Ross is trying to list all of the states and he even makes the little world map and there were 51 or 52 states. Then later as an adult watching the same episode and there were only 50 and I felt surprised and looked it up and there really were only 50.

      2. LS

        I grew up in British Columbia, Canada and remember being taught there were 52 with the last additions being Hawaii and Alaska. I remember drawing 52 stars on an art project and counting them out. I don’t remember what the other states were but that there had been 50 for a long time before the last two were added.

    2. Tracey Johnson

      I too thought (and was taught by my mother) that Alaska and Hawaii were late additions, making a total of 52 states. Weird!!

    3. Keenan Watkind

      I am a 38 year old, American man. I swear on everything I love and hold dear to me that when I was in sixth grade – my teacher taught us that we had 52 states – and that Alaska & Hawaii were the last two added. I remember it very clearly because I went home telling my parents that we now considered Hawaii and Alaska states. The entire class had to learn that there were now 52 states, and our teacher, Mr. Fox would sternly correct us if we slipped up and said 50. Then, out of the blue maybe 8 years later I started noticing that people always said we had 50 states and I remember thinking how dumb they must be. It took me years to accept that maybe I had for no reason had false memories that served zero purpose. I mean seriously, why would I remember it in such detail? What would be the possible gain my mind would get from creating such an obscure false memory? It happened. That much I am certain of.

  3. Lusanda

    I am from South Africa and one of my favourite things in the 4th grade was drawing flags. I always drew the american flag with 51 stars because that is what I was taught. I also just asked my husband who says he was taught there were 52 states. We are both equally shocked that there are actually 50 states.

    1. Josie

      As a child I remember struggling to get 52 stars to fit and look right when I drew or painted an American flag. Five rows of 10 stars, but how to get it to look right with 2extra stars? Maybe that’s why some flags now have 5 rows of 6 stars with 4 rows of 5 stars in between; alternating the amount of stars in the rows makes it impossible to eyeball and count quickly how many in each row, but then you can fit 4 rows of 7 stars alternating with 4 rows of 6 stars for a 52 star flag.

      Such a relief that other people remember this stuff too

  4. efstajas

    I asked around 20 people in school today.

    No one said 50. Some said 51, some 52.

    And one guy actually said: “everybody thinks there’s 50, but there’s actually 52!”

    at that point I was too creeped out to continue.

  5. Sammy

    I live in Europe and would have answered 52. I’m 31 years old, so “kids today” doesn’t apply to me. I was very good at school, got straight A’s in geography and history. I also would NOT have included Puerto Rico in my 52 states.

    1. Julia

      Sammy – I’m an American who will be 50 in March. I’ve always know the flag had 50 stars and known there were 50 states but I vaguely remember people talking about 50 states plus 2 – which I would have thought were U.S. territories, but that doesn’t make sense since there are more than 2 territories, 6 I believe. What would really be fascinating is if some who remember 52 could remember names of the additional two states. My mind would officially be blown – okay, it’s already been blown by my vague memories of Mandela dying and sharper memories of Billy Graham dying.

  6. Fiona Broome Post author

    Note: More than other topics, this one seems to generate many comments along the lines of “you must have been confused,” or “my education was better than yours.”

    I have just deleted another of several insulting comments.

    I will not approve further ethnocentric comments suggesting the problem is educational, or that no American would make this “mistake.”

    In the quote in my article, above, American teacher David (in the U.S., teaching U.S. history) has already confirmed that some American students believe there are 51 or 52 states, due to an educational error.

    So, that point has been raised and confirmed. Some confusion may be educational. Clearly, that’s not unique to or exclusive of the U.S. After all, American commenter Will (above) seemed to suggest that Canada has so few state-like entities (provinces and territories), they can be counted on his fingers. (Canada has 10 provinces and three territories. That’s a total of 13, more than the number of fingers most people have.)

    In general, I’ve tried to make it clear that the Mandela Effect is most often reported by intelligent, well-read, and well-educated people. In most cases, we don’t lack resources for independent research, looking for possible points of confusion. That’s been ruled out, before leaving a first-person report or comment here.

    However, some visitors continue to explain (gently or not-so-gently) that the problem is entirely educational, and all Americans know there are only 50 states. Both of those assertions are in error. Comments like them have no place here.

    I don’t mean to sound harsh. I just want to spare well-meaning visitors the time and effort of leaving comments that are, themselves, mistaken. And, in general, arrogant, ethnocentric, and insulting comments are never approved.

    1. Sarah

      I have only just stumbled on this site after a friend emailed me an article about alternate memories on the spelling of Stan and Jan Berenst_in. This particular topic caught my attention. I am an American. I was in elementary school in the 80’s and very clearly remember learning there were 52 states. I was and always have been obsessed with history and knowledge and was a very good student, especially in topics surrounding history. I vividly remember having an argument with a fellow student over the number of states. I believed there were 52. He maintained there were 50 and eventually showed me in a text book the number of states in writing. I had no choice but to let go of my previous education. I did not consider it again until reading this article. I can not recall what the other 2 states were. Like many others I believed them to be Hawaii and Alaska, but did not learn Puerto Rico was a state. I distinctly remember learning the difference between states and territories. I have to say, I’m a tad relieved. I had put it out of my mind, but I remember being completely thrown off by the proof that there were not 52 states. It was however the driving force behind falling in love with research.

      1. bustercasey

        i posted earlier im an american iwas a history fanatic my whole life. I remember with absolute clarity 52 states the 2 newest being PUERTO RICO and GUAM.I would like to add I was blesssed with a phenominal memory unlike anyone i know. I even recall counting the stars on one occasion and coming up with 52. Furthermore I HAVE A MEMORY OF THE U.S.A. BEING CALLED BY A DIFFERENT NAME

        “THE ENDURING CONSTITUTIONAL UNION” anyone else remember this?

        1. Ruth

          Yes, Bustercasey, perfect! I am from the United States & I know that I was taught, in school, that there are 52 states, including Puerto Rico and Guam. (My Junior High years would have been in the early 70’s in Central Illinois.) I absolutely remember my teacher using the phrase, “including Puerto Rico and…” I couldn’t remember Guam until Bustercasey said it, but that was it. It was driving me crazy, so thank you.

  7. walter

    People think there are 52 because I think a lot of times people think there are 48 “continental” states plus Hawaii and Alaska which make 50. If you think 50 continental states plus Hawaii and Alaska I could see how you could misconstrue it to be 52.

    1. Fiona Broome Post author


      I think many people recognize that as a way the numbers could be confusing. It’s a good point but it’s not the source of most of the reports I’ve read, at or related to this website.


    2. Julia

      Just to clarify, Fiona, in case you were responding to my comment and not all the comments in general, I meant that in MY reality, I’ve always known there to be 50 states, but I didn’t mean that there might not have been 52 in someone else’s reality, even if they were also American. (I wouldn’t have believed that possible 5 weeks ago or so.) I mentioned my nationality because I think it’s interesting to pinpoint where people are coming from with their respective information, not to be ethnocentric.

      1. Fiona Broome Post author

        Hi, Julia,

        I apologize. I should have been clearer in my earlier comment, and I’ll edit it. I was reacting to a particularly insulting comment that I did not approve. This topic seems to get more than its share of comments that claim superior knowledge or education based on nationality or language. Those same comments insist that the 52-states issue is simply a misunderstanding based on a poor education.

        The deleted comment was so insulting, I still had steam coming out of my ears when I posted my response. I didn’t phrase it as well as I might have.

        The good news is: Since posting that comment, I’ve seen zero deliberately insulting, ethnocentric comments here.


    3. rg

      >>>People think there are 52 because I think a lot of times people think there are 48 “continental” states plus Hawaii and Alaska which make 50. If you think 50 continental states plus Hawaii and Alaska I could see how you could misconstrue it to be 52.

      But how did Obama misconstrue it to be 57 states?

    4. Jimmy Gertonsson

      HI I´m from dk.
      i`m 53 years. i also remember 52 states and something in my memorie says 48 states
      my younger brother thinks the same. so thank you too you Walter. G”,

  8. Julia

    No problem, Fiona! Sometimes I wonder if what I write is taken the way I mean it, so I just wanted to clarify. Even off-line, I worry about saying that right thing, but on a message board, it can be especially hard to be sure you were not misunderstood. Guess that why emoticons were born!

  9. Diana

    I started thinking maybe people were getting confused because there are more than 50 Miss America contestants, but there are actually 53 of them. I am remembering 52 US states.

  10. anon

    I seem to remember 51 states, never 50. BUT, another important thing I remember is there used to be 52 states, but one seceded or was merged, maybe Hawaii? This site is creeping me out right now, Im sure there never were less than 51 states in my lifetime until maybe a year or two ago? I seem to have a lot of other timeshifted memories too :/

    1. confuzled

      i remember 52 states and one was dropped sometime in the past… i thought it was DC ? making it 51..
      a couple of years ago i realized it was 50 and I made a point out of remembering that because it freaked me out.

  11. JM

    I remember in 5th Grade the female teacher told us the the USA was larger in size than Canada, and I told her it wasn’t and she got angry, and that I should get an Atlas if I didn’t believe her, this was all in the middle of class. Then she just continued with the lesson, but I knew she was wrong.

  12. Derek

    I personally remember 50 states throughout my lifetime (46 years old, and lived all of that time in the United States). But I find it fascinating how widespread the notion of 52 states apparently is. Although I can imagine ways an individual person might be confused, I can’t come up with a plausible explanation for how so many people might remember it differently (and the same way)..

    It especially baffles me that the two “extra” states cited consistently seem to be the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico. I guess I could understand miscommunication about D.C., but the really weird one is Puerto Rico. I mean, if it were a mundane explanation, why single out only that one territory (among the several U.S. territories)? Yes, it’s had the strongest push for statehood among the territories, but that wouldn’t explain it being grouped with D.C. (which isn’t a territory, and which I’ve never heard any serious statehood push for).

    To make a short story long, it just doesn’t seem explainable to me as some kind of misunderstanding or miscommunication, because there really isn’t any logical reason to mistake both of those areas for states in any sort of linked and widespread way. Weird…

    1. Cynthia

      I am with you Derek, I am 41 years old and clearly remember being taught that there are 50 states in America. Hawaii being the 50th state, Alaska the 49th. What are these generations being taught in school? Puerto Rico is considered a territory and not a state yet. That’s maybe where the 51 comes from. I saw this and almost became convinced that I was mistaken!

      1. Fiona Broome Post author


        You’re missing the point of this website. It’s not a generational issue.

        This website is about people with alternate memories. We know that some of our memories don’t match the current reality; otherwise, they wouldn’t be worth mentioning.

        We know that the U.S.A. has 50 states in this timestream, and that’s what taught in American schools (and most global ones that teach world geography). In most cases, these alternate memories are not an educational issue, per se.

        This site is about clear memories that don’t match any current or past reality in this particular timestream. And, it’s about the consistency of those memories, indicating an alternate reality (or realities) where those memories are a match. We are a community of people who share one or more of those memories, and compare them here via articles and comments.


        1. William

          But couldn’t this be a case of a generational issue? Simply put the recent vote in Puerto Rico in favor of statehood could cause younger individuals to believe that it is in fact a state. Granted that doesn’t explain older individuals remembering 52 states.
          In my reality (I’m 31 btw) it’s always been 50 states. The lower 48 plus Alaska and Hawaii. I could see how some could count the latter twice. But, most of the comments have D.C. and Puerto Rico and Guam as possible states. As for D.C. that could be explained by their having votes in Congress and the Electoral College (the latter being talked about in depth every 4 years) causing confusion regarding its status. As for Guam and Puerto Rico as far back as I can remember there have been periods of discussion on whether (mostly when) they would become the 51st and 52nd states.
          But I distinctly remember the Berenstein Bears being spelt with an ‘E’ up until early 2010.

  13. David

    Hi. just bumped into this. I’m from Brazil and remember there were always 50 States, Hawaii being the fiftieth – when I was a kid I remember Hawaii FIVE-0 on tv. 😉

  14. Bill in Tennessee

    President Obama notably said in the last campaign that there were 57 states. Is he from an alternate universe? Hmmm, that might explain a LOT.

  15. Patch

    I always remembered USA having 51 or 49 states but the funniest part is the way I remembered it, was that it was one away from 50!

  16. Daveyt

    I was raised being taught that there were 50 states. I was taught this in a few private schools throughout east Michigan, and a single school in Georgia.

    It wasn’t until I moved to Georgia, and it must have been 8-14 years ago that I remember for the first time hearing on television (I believe it was a speech by Bush) where he said there was in fact 52 states and mentioned Puerto Rico. It was a small detail in his speech – he didn’t go into detail, it just happened to be something he said along with his speech.

    After this, I remember a few occurrences of people referring to the 52 states in the next 2-4 years. Since then, i’ve heard nothing of it.

  17. William Walker

    I was actually wrong about one thing I posted, there are actually only 42 states…I have no idea what I was thinking on that one.


    1. Fiona Broome Post author

      Will, your comments are looking a little odd. Explain why you think there are 42 states in this timestream. Is that a technical point, since Massachusetts is a commonwealth, etc., or are you saying something else?

  18. Vivii

    This is really creeping me out. All my life I was sure there were 51 states (I’m European, the 51st was Hawaii in my opinion). Just a few days ago I read an article mentioning the 50 states. I was confused, looked it up on wikipedia and couldn’t believe my eyes.
    I even remember an interview or a speech from George W. Bush saying there were 50 states and the media ripping into him for weeks for getting it wrong. How could i have imagined all that??

  19. Jono

    I have always thought there were 52 states Hawaii and Alaska making up 51 and 52. Until I lived with an American who corrected this thought. I’m not sure why but this seems like a common misconception in Europe.

    I’ve always wondered why this mistake is so common. I thought this could be because people are just getting the number of states wrong and repeating this error to others, or they are getting the number of states mixed up with the territories. However, when I investigated how many territories there are this didn’t quite add up. Even though I know there are only 50 states, 52 still feels right to me. The Mandela Effect seems to offers a reasonable explanation.

    I really like the idea that these alternative memories are happenings leaching through from different time streams/universes.
    This got me thinking. If there are an infinite number universes with an infinite amount of possibilities, and there is no reason why the time streams in these universes run in sync. Is it feasible to consider that somewhere in the infinite number of universes there is an average universe influenced by the rest? In a constant state of flux at any one point along its own time stream, until the majority of universes have past that point. The inhabitants of such a universe would never be consciously aware of events changing, however may have remnant memories of events before they changed.

    For example, Mandela may have died in prison. This is until the majority of universes have played out their version of events. In which the majority of universes had Mandela passing in 2013. The memories of Mandela passing in prison are perhaps remnant memories before the change.

    Could this be the universe we inhabit? Could this offer an alternative explanation to the Mandela Effect?
    It would be great to hear everyone’s thoughts.

  20. Lisa Love

    I also know their are 52 states!Ask someone what color is a yield sign!!!!!! Ask yourself this question before you google it.This will also shock you! Blessed Be, Lisa

  21. Casey

    I found this article interesting, so I asked my uncle how many states there are in America. Funny! He said, 52. Of course we’re from the Philippines, so I can’t really expect accurate knowledge of a foreign country, but it’s still pretty strange.

  22. Wayne

    I was told originally 50 states…but in late 1990’s or early 2000’s Puerto Rico and a part of or all of Peru was allowed to join. I think this was allowed to happen because of Panama Canal dealings.

  23. Lucy

    I’m Australian and I always thought there were 52 states, until I watched an episode of friends where they try to list all 50. I’m only 17 and probably saw this episode at about 14, and all the time before that I thought there were 52 states.
    I vaguely remember thinking there were 50 ‘mainland’ states then Hawaii and Alaska made 52

  24. Emma

    I have a really vivid memory of learning that there were 52 states in school amd being really confused when my parents told me there were only 50. I asked my sister (9) right now and she said 51 very confidently. We’ve both been raised and schooled entirely in the us.

  25. ami

    Canadian, and I’ve grown up saying “America has 51 states, except one of them is a district or something.” I still barely understand what the difference between a territory and a province is so I have no hope of figuring out what a district is.

    1. Steven Seipel

      You have provided an explanation for the idea of 57 states.
      We have 50 states and one federal district, called Washington D.C. to distinguish it from the west coast state of Washington.
      You reminded me that in some cases, the D.C. is treated as a state even though it is not one. For tax purposes, the IRS considers the D.C. as a state. But wait-the territories are the same for purposes of the IRS. So if there are 6 territories as someone said(even we Americans don’t know things like that) then there are, in a manner of speaking, 57. So maybe that explains Obama’s mistake. Or maybe it’s just because he’s Obama…
      That however does nothing to solve all the memories of 51 or 52 states.
      This question about the states does not interest me much because for me there have always been 50, and that’s that. But my mind was blown when I learned tonight that Mandela died in 2013. As far as I can recall, I had never heard that until like an hour ago. Until then, he died sometime while I was in school, in the 80’s or 90’s.

  26. Ash

    Ash from the US here, I always remember it being 50 states, but for some reason when I am asked how many states there are I immediately think of a deck of cards and want to say 52 which I find weird because I shouldn’t combine the two thoughts considering they are different numbers… unless they at one point were the same number (52).

    1. TrickyD

      Hey i had commented before I scrolled down the comments , I had said that when i was younger I was often confused about how many states there are and thought there was 52 same as a deck of cards. It wasnt until later in life that I “got it straight” 50 states 52 cards. I am from america and still live there today.

  27. Bombardone

    Just a strange/funny tidbit:in the song “F*** the world” by Insane Clown Posse a line is :”F*** all fifty two states”,the song is obviously very raunchy so be careful if you want to listen to it

  28. JM

    And here’s a few more with 52 states in the lyrics, (All Rap music I think)

    Mobb Deep – Baby Baby
    Papoose – Salute The Dream
    Ma$e – Stay Out Of My Way
    Fredro Starr – What If

    1. Fiona Broome Post author

      JM, this is great info. Can you add it to the article about 50/51/52 states: http://mandelaeffect.com/51-52-united-states ? I can edit the content of comments, but I can’t actually move them to other, relevant posts.

      Update: I found a plugin that will let me do that, so I’m going to start moving a few recent comments (including this) to their relevant posts.


      Cheerfully, Fiona

  29. Julia

    Me again. I read this alternate memory on another website and it resonated with me. The capital of Tennessee, since 1843, is not what I thought it was. I memorized all the state capitol at the late age of 18. I might not have remembered this one, but I DON’T remember it being what it actually is. Weird.

  30. Julia

    I think I have the year wrong on the current capital of Tennessee, but anyway, it’s been the capital for over 100 years.

    1. Fiona Broome Post author

      Julia, that’s a good one. At the grammar school I attended, we had at least one annual test where we had to label all US states and their capitals, all major European countries, all major oceans, and all of the continents. So, I didn’t think twice about the capital of Tennessee. When I read your first comment about this, I did a quick double-check… but only “just in case.”

      Then, seeing what it really is (not a city that’s spelling used to challenge me, as a kid), I thought, “Oh, they must have changed it recently.” No big deal.

      But then I saw your second comment about this, and I’m kind of stunned. I’m going to ask my husband what he thinks the capital of Tennessee is, too; his aunt is from there, and we always look forward to visiting her… just outside what is apparently the real capital of Tennessee.

      Some state capitals can seem surprising, like Sacramento (CA) and Augusta (ME). But Tennessee’s…? That one has never surprised me or confused me, until now. Definitely a Mandela Effect moment for me.

      Thanks for that find!


      1. Fiona Broome Post author

        Julia, in reply to your “in confidence” question, the answer is no. However, when I asked my husband what he thought the capital of Tennessee was, he said what you did. It was his instant answer and then, when he thought about it, he was pretty sure he was right.

        And, since his family roots are deep in TN, and he’s been there often, I’d give his response more credence than mine.

        I’m trying to think of a hint to tell you what my answer was, but I can’t think of one that won’t point to it, obviously.

        Cheerfully, Fiona

        1. Fiona Broome Post author

          Julia, Your guess (after my hint) was correct. And my husband — always a little skeptical — was kind of taken aback by his apparent error. I didn’t know that about the haunted location, since we haven’t done much ghost hunting in TN, but I may make that a priority next time we visit my husband’s aunt. Thanks!

      2. Dotchi

        I saw this thread and thought maybe something was wrong because Pasadena is the Capitol of CA and I haven’t heard of Augusta Maine. I don’t remember Maine’s capitol though. Started with R, I think. I also looked up TN. That one looks right to me. Then I looked up other states to see if they changed.

        Oregon’s capitol was Winston. I am not confusing it with South Carolina’s Winston-Salem area either. I just checked and apparently that is now in North Carolina. I just had a Mandela Effect moment there.

        And I think I am going to go figure out the capitols of the states in this timestream now. I am so confused.

      3. rob

        i always thought it was nashville what city are you all thinking it is only other city i can name in Tennessee is Memphis

  31. Adrian

    I was totally on board with the Berenstein Bears thing, but its always been 50 states. Never once have I ever thought or remembered 52 states, that sounds crazy. Puerto Rico is not a US state, they have been trying but it has not happened yet. I can not believe how many Americans don’t know their own history. This is really kind of upsetting. Sorry guys, its not good if you don’t know such easy history. Is this a younger generation thing? Holy cow!

    1. Fiona Broome Post author

      Holy cow yourself, Adrian.

      You’re missing the point of this website. What’s “easy history” for you is the apparent history in this timestream. It sounds like you’ve spent a lot of time in this timestream, except for when you slid to where it’s Berenstein Bears, not Berenstain.

      There’s nothing wrong with that.

      In your reality, you’ve always had 50 states. I’m old enough to vaguely recall 48, but I have no doubt that some people have been in a timestream with 51 or 52 states. That has to be kind of weird, every time they see a US flag and the number of stars looks wrong.

      I believe that most Americans do know their own history… at least the one presented in mainstream history books. It’s kind of insulting when someone thinks we’re stupid or badly educated, or raises facile, generational walls to trivialize what — to me, anyway — is a very cool, intriguing phenomenon.

      In fact, I resent it. I’m sympathetic to your views, of course. While the idea of parallel worlds isn’t exactly new — not to physicists, anyway — it can be deeply unsettling to people who’ve never considered this before. I’m sure it’s easier to default to the traditional right/wrong dichotomy, than the possibility that everyone (or nearly everyone) is right.

      My late father-in-law hated traveling abroad. To him, they were all “foreigners.” They did things the “wrong” way. He was even miserable in England, convinced that “they” all walked on the “wrong” side of the sidewalk. So, after a certain point, he quit traveling outside the USA. That answer worked for him. He seemed to have a happier life.

      Unfortunately, it’s not so easy with the Mandela Effect. Avoiding the intrusion of alternate realities isn’t simple. It may not even be possible. I mean, the reality you fell asleep in last night — the one where you’d put the car keys on the kitchen counter, like always — may not be the reality you woke up in, this morning. In today’s reality, you might always leave the car keys on a hook by the garage door. Finding that could take hours, if your usual reality didn’t even have a hook there.

      Personally, I’m pretty happy waking up to a new, better habit, even if it’s disorienting at first. (Or, if I wake up to a not-so-smart habit, at least it’s a case of, “Ooh, isn’t that interesting!” … before I re/install a hook by the garage door and, thereafter, place the car keys there.)

      For me, the Mandela Effect makes sense. It reduces the right/wrong conflicts. I like this.

      However, it sounds like you’ve had few experiences with the Mandela Effect, so — to you — other memories are “wrong.” I understand that. A site like this must be very upsetting. Even disappointing, if it seems like evidence of deteriorating educational standards.

      The answer is simple: Avoid websites like this one. Live a happy, relatively unconflicted life. I mean it. Everyone deserves a happy life.

      Also, if the very thought of the Mandela Effect churns up distress, it’s okay to consider us a group of misguided, badly-educated young people.

      Just don’t expect us to respond well to comments that seem to miss the point — and the joy — of what we’re exploring here.

      We’re having fun. Most of the time, this is wall-to-wall “ooh, shiny!” discoveries.

      If it’s not fun for you, play elsewhere. It’s that simple, if you want it to be.

      Fiona Broome

          1. SM

            Ok so I’m from Florida and I’ve gone to school here all my life, I’m 20 now and I know in 5th grade we sang a song to remember the states and it went “the fifty nifty United States from thirteen original colonies…” So I know there’s 50. However, I remember being very confused as I thought there were 52 states (50 plus Alaska and Hawaii) even to this day if I don’t think of the song I will have the urge to say 52. Hm.

  32. Jenna

    I’m Canadian and this article just reminded me of a strange occurrence that took place in September. I was speaking to a friend of mine about Geography and somewhere along the way, the number of states in America was brought up. She’s from America, Florida to be exact I think, and when I said 50, she immediately corrected me by saying 52. Odd. I see her tomorrow, so maybe i’ll ask!

  33. JTO

    I`m 35 and from Germany. I remember being taught there were 49 States +1 (Hawaii) in 8th grade. I never thought there were 52 states or that Purto Rico would belong to the US.

  34. Lindsay

    I find it interesting that most (though not all) people commenting about 51-52 are not from the United States themselves. I remember it as 50, and of course, so many of my generation on the Internet remember “Fifty Nifty United States…” (reddit randomly breaks out into comment singing this song!) which I doubt they would teach overseas. It really sounds as if many of these commenters might be referencing the same textbooks or series of textbooks; something that would not have been used in the US itself.

    One possibility is that we had a series of textbooks with misprints, and in the era before the Internet, teachers and students alike took it at face value. After all, I have no idea how many provinces Canada has or how many states Mexico has, even if I can name a few. In fact, even today, if I read a number for states/provinces about any country in a textbook, I wouldn’t have bothered to even look it up or verify it unless it was part of some assignment needing outside resources.

    But the question then becomes, what about the Americans who remember something else? And here we have a very good opportunity to put the Mandela effect to a test – if people remember Puerto Rico or Washington DC being states, then they most likely covered the history of those territories becoming states at some point in school. After all, in the course of my entire K-12 education, we covered the details pertaining to statehoods of ALL 50 states – and furthermore, we would have memorized their capitols and labelled them on maps. So naturally, an American student would have done the same, for no matter how many states there were in their timeline.

    THOSE are the memories I am interested in hearing about. It is extremely easy for someone to misremember a number – and I have seen videos of people answering anywhere from 47 to 53 when it comes to “how many states are there”. The simple mistake of a number does not give us any sort of substantial proof of a timeline shift. But all the other memories contain therein would! The substantial memories would have been the background education ON those states that only American children would have received. Fiona, I would implore you to get back to those US commenters for more information about their US History education. It would be extremely interesting to hear what they have to say.

    1. Seth

      I agree with this. For most outside of the US this can be chalked up to misinformation presented during a time when access to information was not as common. If your textbook said there were 52 states there is no reason to believe otherwise. All over the news these past weeks have been reports about textbooks in Texas saying things that simply aren’t true, in that case to further a political agenda. I actually think it is the same for those who remember Mandela dying but don’t live in South Africa or a neighboring nation. I know we all recall a year before his death in this timestream when everyone thought he was going to die but then he hung on another year. I feel like the childhood memories of people largely unfamiliar with the man might simply be a case of remembering news about a near death or something similar. The interesting accounts are the ones from people in the US for the 50 States thing and from people in South Africa for Mandela as it is much harder to disregard their memories as simple misinformation when surely the “real” information would be readily available.

  35. Monica Partridge

    I am tripping right now!! I found this website through a YouTube video discussing the BEAR phenomenon. But this state thing has me baffled!! [I wish I would have kept my school papers growing up LOL] But I am 52, born in Youngstown, Ohio. From school (got mostly all A’s) I remember there being 48 contiguous states and then Alaska and Hawaii. Washington DC is not a state but a DISTRICT on its own (NOT A ACTUAL STATE) and Puerto Rico is not a state but a Territory or something like that. WOW….this and some other things I remember distinctly different.

    1. Fiona Broome Post author


      You’re right… there were 48 contiguous states, then Alaska and Hawaii became states 49 and 50. DC is a district, not a state. The Commonwealth of Puerto Rico is a U.S. territory.

  36. alyne

    52 states. I was born in Sept of ’85 (may make a difference) more or less in the center of the US in all directions. I am actually encountering a blank wall trying to remember the last two states. This is very, very strange. I was an A/A+ student with excellent short-term memory and very good long-term memory. My memory was so good I could remember conversations almost word for word months later.

    Wild suggestions:
    Puerto Rico
    Sequoyah – strange I can’t find the info now. It was an official USA state that was never officially disbanded
    D.C. – doesn’t sound/taste right
    There was USA Federally purchased land down in Mexico – my ancestors where some of the original settlers. Is this it? Or the other Federally purchased land in Mexico??? Mid-Late 1800’s, early 1900’s? Wow, I don’t even remember the year range.

    1. Steven Seipel

      I don’t know about federally purchased land in Mexico, but the area of Utah used to be Mexico before the Mexican-American war, if I remember correctly. Any way, could you be thinking of the Mormon colonies in Mexico where people settled because the LDS had to officially give up celestial marriage(polygamy) for statehood, or is this something else?

  37. Johnny Ray

    Just to add I remember they’re being two states Veracruz and New Brunswick. New Brunswick as a state also included what we now know as Newfoundland and Nova Scotia, it’s capital was Halifax and it was given us after we defeated England in war we fought against them from 1865-1867. Veracruz was a state that sat below Arizona and New Mexico and is named after the same Mexican State that we swapped Baja California for sometime in 1880s. It’s capital was Santo Carlos. Vermont it’s own independent country didn’t become state until 1876, the 100th Anniversary of the signing of Declaration Of Independence. Up until age of thirteen, fourteen, this is how I remember things before everything started to change around me and I ended up here, same person, same friends, same family, different place … :-S

  38. wolframdioxide

    I distinctly recall the capital of Georgia being at Augusta, not Atlanta. I know I’m not confusing it with Maine, because I remember thinking that the two Augustas as capitals was odd.

    1. Totes

      I remember Augusta being the capital of Georgia too (because Atlanta seemed like the better choice) as well I remember Portland being the capital of Maine.

  39. Ves

    I vividly remember as a young child constantly getting bad grades in geometry in such for always including a 51st state and I remember that it was Puerto Rico and maybe I was misspelling my answers or something. I only noticed something wrong when my father explained that Puerto Rico wasn’t a state, so I assumed it must’ve just been me getting confused but reading about this made me remember that I do remember my teachers teaching me that there were 51 states and Puerto Rico was one of them.

  40. Mat

    Ok. I stumbled upon something earlier today that I thought was worth mentioning. If you google: 52 State Maps, the third one down is a link to a Garmin Map database that lists 52 states with Washington DC and Puerto Rico being the extras. Also Will mentioned that you could count the number of provinces on your fingers and Fiona replied that Canada had 10 Provinces and 3 Territories. Which seemed kind of high for me, but I brushed it off, but then Eric mentioned being taught that Canada had 4 provinces that were all rectangular shaped, and bells immediately started going off in my head. I pulled up a map of Canada, and it looks nothing like what I remember from school. I was taught that there were only 4 provinces(Quebec, Ontario, Alberta, and British columbia).

    Also at one point there were 2 other US territories that almost became states(Puerto Rico and Cuba), but they didn’t get enough votes in the legislature. If they would have been voted to become states then Alaska and Hawaii would have been 51 and 52.

  41. Courtney

    I stumbled on this site because someone on another site said to google it. I am just speechless. I distinctly remember being taught 52 states ( I am in the US), but I cannot remember the other two. But I know, a couple of years ago I remember being confused, because my children were talking about 50 states. And I thought I was crazy. But I also remember 48…”The lower 48″? Where have I heard that before?

    On a side note, I have been monitoring earthquake activity lately, and when I had the world map up, my husband told me that Hawaii “isn’t right there, it’s up here” (more NE). I have no idea on that one.
    Also, my kids seem to have memories I don’t share. “Mom, do you remember when (this) happened to me at (this) house”?….And not only do I not recall the incident, it was a house we’ve never lived in. And my son described it to me in detail. Trippy….

  42. Nikki

    About the states – I just finished watching a video at YouTube where a man claimed to have shot a Bigfoot. There is, what seems to be a European lady who started a bit of a flame war in the comments about how “dumb” and trigger happy Americans are. Anyway, I was reading through the comments of people attacking her, and she told one person that they had to be “one of the dumbest people in the 52 states”. I know, she’s really been getting hell now. What’s strange to me is that she seems to be pretty intelligent otherwise. This issue seems to be a common one.

    1. Fiona Broome Post author


      That sounds more like troll activity than anything I’d take seriously.

      Accomplished trolls love topics that can’t be proved one way or the other. Then, they take an opposing, perhaps extreme side while including a few patently wrong “facts” in what they say… just to give people more basis on which to continue the flames. It’s annoying and I’ve stopped approving those kinds of comments at this website.

      While the YouTube comment may have been serious, I wouldn’t invest much credence in that kind of exchange. Not as support for Mandela Effect or 52 states (in some realities), anyway.


      1. Nikki

        Yes, I’m very aware of how trolls operate – lol. The thing is, I really don’t think she is one. She seems to be very defensive of her stance and even has a profile picture and people have been attacking her appearance also though to me, she looks average if not even pretty. To be honest, I’d be looking for off hand comments like that to support The Mandela Effect and I don’t think she’d waste time making hundreds (yes, her comment has generated hundreds of replies), where she simply says the same thing over and over again while vehemently defending herself.

      2. Brian S.

        When dealing with misinformation and disinformation on the internet, shouldn’t we make a distinction between trolls and SHILLS? Technically speaking, a troll is just a bored person playing a prank. A shill, on the other hand, is generally percieved by the online conspiracy/paranormal/UFO community as being a clandestine agent paid to intentionally “poison the well” as part of black-mandated mass cover-ups. http://www.whale.to/m/disin.html

  43. Talent

    Hi,I’m from England and I’m 76. In the 40’s and 50’s we were taught there were 50 States (I don’t remember counting them, just accepted!) and there was a running joke that our politicians were heading towards making the UK the 51st State of America so we could stop the crippling WW2 Lend-Lease payments. But then Hawaii came in, in 1959 to make the 50th (Hawaii Five Oh) and I remember questions being asked then. Had the mighty USA dumped a state?
    You think you have problems, I recently tried to explain United Kingdom, Great Britain, British Isles, United Kingdom and Northern Ireland, Southern Ireland, Republic of Ireland, Ulster, Scotland, Wales and the 6000 or so island and islets…. where I wa born!

  44. Jim

    I grew up in the UK and I was sure I was taught 52 states. It seemed to fit with both the deck of cards and the weeks in a year (Although that’s 52.14).

    I remember also when the movie 50 First Dates came out I loved the title; because “of course” it took place in Hawaii which was the 51st state to join the US, followed by Alaska, the 52nd State.

    Only years after that did I learn that there are only 50 states. I didn’t think too much into it and just figured that some states must have amalgamated because they were too small or not populous enough or something. Like, I’d been right all along and something had simply changed without my being aware of it. (Maybe it was the timeline).

  45. Elle

    I am an American, and I do know there are 50 states.

    When I was about 10 I moved to Central Texas. At that point, Texas was three states. North, Central and South, and I was taught that this happened during 1861 and North TX too East and South West with a middle area. North’s capitol was Ft Worth (which was weird to hear that, because Dallas), Austin was Central and South was Houston. Sam Houston was never ousted as president/governor, Central TX didn’t enter the civil war, Clark took over South and was assassinated in 1867, and Francis Lubbock over North Texas.

    Two years later I learned an entirely different history of Texas, and that the US only had 50 states.

    On that note, I also remember that Cuba and Puerto Rico were allies and we hated both of them, so I am always amazed when I hear PR is a territory.

    I kinda wish you wouldn’t publish this because even I know how crazy it is.

  46. Robynne

    I came across this thread while trying to figure out why D.C. has its own licence plate but isn’t considered a state. I too was trying to write down the 50 states from memory and was shocked to find out I had missed one (Montana). I also knew that Puerto Rico and Guam weren’t there yet,
    I might add that I am a proud 45 yr old Canadian!
    What I find hilarious is that while we had to learn American geography, Americans never had to learn much about Canada. I worked in the tourism area of Niagara Falls and was stunned by some comments and questions we got on a daily basis. It appears that the further south you were from the border, the less you were taught. This is not at all meant as an insult as I know some incredibly intelligent people from the south, it’s a matter of what you were taught about Canada. How else would you explain prople showing up the first week in July with skis strapped to the roof of their cars? Or someone expecting snow and igloos the moment they crossed the border (I’ve lived in Canada my whole life and have never seen an igloo!)? Just so you’re aware, Niagara Falls is further south than the entire state of Minnesota!
    My point is, the further away from a country you are, the less you seem to know. I find it perfectly reasonable then, that Europeans do not know how many states there are. I truly couldn’t tell you much about even Mexico other than its capitol, their language, and that it looks like a lovely place to vacation. Most European countries, I couldn’t even tell you that!
    Cheers all :)

  47. Robynne

    Canada is part of the British commonwealth and I still don’t know the difference between the United Kingdom and Great Britain further proving my geographic location theory.

  48. Wild Woman

    I also was taught that there were 52 states and that Alaska and Hawaii were the 51st and 52nd states. This learning occurred in the early 60’s in fourth grade by a public education teacher. She specifically taught us this”‘fact” and gave the dates when these two states were added. Guam and Puerto Rico were also sited as territories by this teacher and the District of Columbia was only a district. So where did she get her information to teach us this inaccuracy? Since then I have always been confused as to how many actual states there were. By the way this was in the USA educational system! Sad!!

  49. Terry shook

    Just ask my wife how many states in the USA, her reply 52 which is what I believed as well. We live in kingston,ontario. Right on the border and both thought 52 states. I found this thread when I went looking to see what the lower 48 meant.

  50. Becky

    I am 50 this year and a US Citizen, went to school in Ohio and Georgia and have a very terrible memory. I too want to say 52 US States and at the same time I realize it does not sound quite right. Reading all the comments here I can see how maybe my confusion came from the teachers teaching about territories and districts at the same time as discussion about the number of states there were. It would have been easy for a teacher to suggest 52 states in the discussion by adding Puerto Rico and DC to the mix during the years I was learning US Geography and that would mean I got stuck on 52. The attempt to teach us about Territories and Districts and States all at the same time would create the confusion. I bet teachers even knew and purposely made 51 and 52 choices on multiple choice questions for tests! creating even more confusion for those of us with bad memories.

  51. W. R.

    I live in Canada and stumbled on to this site while confirming that Maine is one of the “lower 48″ states entitled to free shipping from a US online store. I was checking because I had a very clear and distinct memory of there being 52 states. If I removed Hawaii and Alaska though, what two states didn’t get free shipping? I am now completely baffled as to why I have the 52 state memory. Normally I would find such a mistake” to be embarrassing, but having seen this site, I am fascinated that others from around the globe have the same recollection. This is an incredibly wonderful little science mystery.

  52. Ricardo

    I live in the UK and I have a memory of there being 51 or 52 states. Strangely similar to other people I cannot remember why I could not decide on either figure. My memory also tells me Alaska and Hawaii were the most recent to be added. I have plenty of Mandala effect memories , all alike to the ones on this site.

  53. Melinda

    I remember being taught there are 48 states with Alaska and Hawaii bring it to 50. DC made it 51. was never taught Puerto Rico was a state.

    I am from the states btw!

  54. daniel

    Okay, i know currently that there are 50 states, but the reason why Washington D.C. can not become a state is because that it would take Maryland and Virginian territory. And it would of course tip power to the state that mainly controls the new state. But Puerto Rico is a whole different story, they are currently a distract but i at first when little didnt even know this. But then i found out it was a part of the us. And i began to think it was a state. But when i was around 12 i found out it was a district, but a district in my eyes is basically a state waiting for approval. And will soon be turned into a state. So get ready for the 51st state one day everybody, last state introduced was hawaii in 1959. Of course different senators and congressmen have tried to keep bringing up the bill to get D.C. to become a state as well. We actually might have 52 states in the end.

  55. duesergirl

    This is one of the memories I don’t share. For me it has always been fifty “nifty” United States (I learned the song in elementary school). However, I do remember sometime in late elementary (so around 1988-91) having to do a maths “project” relating to the stars on the flag. At that time, both Puerto Rico and Guam were talking about voting to petition for statehood and it was looking very likely that they would be granted statehood if petitioned. Our “project” was to figure out how to best arrange the stars assuming either or both nations achieved statehood.

    I’m not sure exactly what year it was. I know I was most likely in 4th (88-89), 5th (89-90), or 6th (90-91) grade. I mention this all because I find it interesting that these years seem to show up pretty consistently in people’s memories as being when potential shifts may have occurred or when certain ME events happened in other timelines. I’m curious if others who remember 50 states also remember the push for statehood for those countries at that same time.

    It occurred to me that when a major event happens in one timeline, it might possibly correlate to a similar, but lesser, event in a connected or similar timeline. Kind of like ripples in a pond. So, for example, in one timeline Mandela dies in jail. In the next closest, he has a surgery or major illness in jail, but lives. In the next closest, that may be the moment he is put in jail. In the farthest timeline (but one where he might still exist) he may not even be famous, but he might stub his toe or get a paper cut. The next farthest timeline would not be altered as it would be the first timeline in which he did not exist.

    These are the kinds of things I think about while washing dishes, lol!

  56. Adam Short

    I know I had a belief that there were 52 states at one point, because when the movie “51st State” came out I remember being confused, because there were already 52, and the 51st state was already accounted for. I’m from the UK. I couldn’t say what I believed the extra states were, except that one was almost certainly the District of Colombia. The other could have been Puerto Rico, or Guam or something, I don’t remember. I think if it wasn’t contiguous, I would have remembered though, so most likely I believed there was an extra state squished into the American landmass somewhere, or maybe one of the existing ones was split, like the Dakotas, or Carolinas.

  57. Betsy

    Oh, and not to discount anybody else’s memories but I also grew up thinking the U.S. had 52 states but I’m pretty sure I know why.

    My parent’s generation grew up with 48 states and then Hawaii and Alaska were added so they would frequently say things like, “the states plus Alaska and Hawaii” or “the continental states plus two.”
    Having never known a time with 48 states I morphed this into 50 states “plus Alaska and Hawaii” thus forming the 52 number.

    I know other people will have different reasons for this but that may explain it for some other folks.

  58. Reader

    I have a theory about why some Americans may know on one level that there are 50 states but also have a memory of there being some slightly greater number of states, and specifically that the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico are in some sense states.

    As a child, you may have watched beauty pageants (think Miss America or Miss USA) or other events in which all there were contestants or representatives from each state. The District of Columbia and Puerto Rico are usually treated as “states” for these purposes so there are 51 or 52 contestants. You and your parents may have remarked on this, perhaps when choosing favorite contestants or keeping score at home:

    “How do you get to be in the Miss America contest?” “You have to win the contest for your state.”

    “So there is only one woman from each state, right?” “Right, only one for the whole state.”

    “Miss Puerto Rico sure has a great smile.” “Yes, she does. I think she will be a finalist for sure.”

    “Say, is Puerto Rico a state?” “I think so. Puerto Ricans are definitely Americans. The Garcias moved here from Puerto Rico and they did not need to become citizens.”

    “Are you sure Puerto Rico is a state?” “It must be. Remember, when I was your age, Alaska and Hawaii weren’t states. Wasn’t there a vote on this a few years ago?”

    This might cause the young viewer to conclude that Puerto Rico and the District of Columbia must be states, because there is Miss Puerto Rico competing for Miss America and a parent concluded that Puerto Rico had to be a state.

    (I have chose a beauty pageant as the example but the same think could happen with a sports tournament, a planned vacation, learning about another person’s background, etc.)

    This information, which you learned in a more personal and interesting manner, may have conflicted with the abstract political and geographical information you were being taught at school, but you have forgotten the latter and remember the former.

    Some questions for those with memories of more than 50 states:

    1. Many people have learned to recite the states in alphabetical order very fast or have heard others do it. Do you remember anyone doing this with more than 50 states?

    2. Likewise, many of us had to memorize the state capitals for school. This is a challenging feat and often called for drills or mnemonics. Do you remember the capitals of more than 50 states? Do you remember drilling or being tested on this? Did you have a mnemonic for remembering this information?

    3. What about politics? Do you also remember there being more than 100 US senators? Do you remember electoral maps showing how Puerto Rico or other additional states voted? (Note that the District of Columbia participates in presidential elections under the 50-state scheme.)

    4. On the other hand, do you remember there being something different about the additional states, like they were not represented in Congress, did not get to vote for president, did not speak English, or anything like that?

    1. Fiona Broome Post author

      Reader, I’m taking this at face value and approving it because I’d be interested in people’s replies to your questions. It could bring more depth to the 50/51/52 states discussion.

      1. Reader

        I thought of one more question, which is whether anyone remembers a flag with more than 50 stars.

  59. Pingback: Alternate Timelines: The Mandela Effect And The Berenstein Bears | Verum Et Inventa

  60. Alexander

    I’ve submitted this to post here as I realize I posted it in the wrong place (alternate geography memories) earlier.

    Have you come across any people who remember states not being states?

    I know you mentioned somewhere the Tennessee being two states memory.

    I grew up in Maine. I distinctly remember “going to America” when we would go south to NH or Massachusetts.

    I remember being in my mom’s old wood paneled jeep. I remember being on the road and I remember going to the United States of America. And my home, Maine, was not one of those states.

    Am I alone in this?

  61. Nooms

    I was always convinced there were 52 states. I can’t name them but I was sure that Washington D.C. was a state.
    I remember being very confused when the film “51st state” came out.

    On an aside, I spoke to a colleague about this and he said he has a vivid recollection from school (London), where they had to name all the states, he named Alaska and everyone laughed at him saying that wasn’t a state. Chances are that they were just mis-informed however.

    For reference, I was born Jan 1988 in London and have lived in England my whole life.

  62. Daniel

    Fiona, I recall in history class that Cuba and the Philippines were annexed by McKinley after the Spanish-American war. They were both struck out in the 20s or 30s.

  63. Dany

    I’m 27, American (born and raised) and while I know there are only 50 states, my automatic response has always been 51. For as long as I can remember even, but I can’t remember what the 51st state is. Well, that’s not true. I know Hawaii and Alaska (never sure which was first) are the last two states. So the odd one out falls before them, I just don’t know what it is. And I honestly don’t remember ever being corrected as a child that there weren’t 51. Now as an adult I’ve been corrected so many times that whenever it comes up I have to pause and remind myself to use the right number. I’ve just been thinking I was confused. This website is kind of freaking me out.

  64. Alex

    I’m flipping out I am from the USA, and while I know there are only fifty states, I get an extremely strong, odd, familiar feeling from the fact that there were 52 states. It’s like I don’t truly have sharp memories about the other two states, but my subconscious knows deep down that there are/where 52.

  65. Becky

    I’m 32 and from Ohio. I remember sometime during my school years being taught that instead of the original 50 states, we had 52 – the add-ons being Hawaii and Alaska. In fact, my son asked me the other day how many states there were and I told him 52!! I just asked my 29 year old brother what he remembered being taught and he said 52 as well. We’re also in the “BerenstEin” club over here! Berenstain doesn’t look or sound right to us and we grew up on this. So trippy!

  66. Elle

    Hello, I do remember there being 52 states as well, the 51st and 52nd being Hawaii and Alaska. I remember being taught that these two states were added later, and prior to that The United States had began with 50 states.

  67. Lynn

    I remember in middle school when we were learning the states (again). There was a question on a worksheet asking how many states there are, I wrote down 51. My teacher looked at me like I was insane and I couldn’t figure out why until he told me that there’s only 50. I was embarrassed at the for getting such a seemingly easy question wrong.

  68. R

    I’m Australian—born in 1990. Convinced there were 51 states until I came across this page from a Berenst(E)ain article.

    I travelled to the USA a couple of years ago and remember being confused there were two “Washington states”—Washington and Washington D.C.

  69. Jeremy Andrews

    The only numbers I’ve ever heard were 50 and 48. I remember the US only having 48 states at one point, but I don’t remember it ever having more than 50.

    I have occasionally wondered exactly why Guam and Puerto Rico weren’t states, and about the fact that people living in Washington D.C. have no voting representatives in Congress. It seems rather unfair. I have felt that it goes against the “taxation without representation” principle, and that those territories should be considered states so that they can be represented in Congress. That’s actually a moral qualm I have with the way the US does things, and not a memory of things being otherwise. If anything, 50 states and three major territories with no voice always stood out to me as blatant political manipulation. It actually makes me wonder if the people from timelines where the US had 52 or more states remember a version of the US that was more honorable than the present incarnation.

  70. Matthew Schofield

    Right I don’t know if this is some kind of led thinking due to reading about this but since finding out about it I have a distinct memory of Muhammed Ali dyeing and now this one is mental not only do I remember there being 52 states I also have a weird memory of America changing from 52 states to 50 I have no recollection as to why just a distinct feeling that I read somewhere they were reducing the number of States from 52 to 50 and even the flag being changed with the number of stars how can this be?!

    1. Fiona Broome Post author

      Matthew, you’re not alone with that memory. At this site and in private conversations, I’ve heard that same kind of comment from people with similar memories.

      Decreasing the number of American states is an odd one. As far as I know, Texas is the only state that has (in theory, anyway) the right to leave the USA if they decide to. So, that could be one of the two that left, in that alternate reality. The other one…? California and Vermont seem possibilities, at least in our reality. Or, two states could have combined, such as West Virginia and Virginia, or Rhode Island could have been annexed by Massachusetts or Connecticut.

      At the very least, it’s fun to speculate which two states made up the 52, and — if the number later decreased — which two changed the number back to 50.

      Cheerfully, Fiona

  71. risa

    I was born in 1963 in New Zealand. We were taught at school that the USA comprised 51 states and the 51st state was Hawaii. This was so ingrained in my memory that when the movie “Fifty First Dates” was released, i thought it was called “Fifty 1st States. Then when I found out the real title of the movie I concluded it must be a play on words because coincidently the movie was set in Hawaii. I commented this to lots of people back when the movie was first released and no one ever challenged me because they also believed there were 51 States.

  72. Elizabeth

    I’ve lived in The States my whole life, and I’ve always had to stop and think before I say something about the number of states, because I always want to say that there are 51, but it’s like that knowledge and the knowledge of there being 50 states are fighting for dominance in my head. I don’t know what the 51st state is, but it’s not like you list all 50 states in your head when you’re trying to remember how many states there are. You just try to remember what number you were taught. I can’t remember which number we were taught in school. It’s also weird because my brain is like an information sponge. I remember almost every random fact that I read, and you would think that the number of states would be a pretty basic, easy to remember fact. Did anyone else think that Alaska was an island, and not because of the way it appears on maps of The States? I had a lot of arguments with my mom when I was in 1st grade because I swore (and still swear to this day) that my teacher told us that Alaska was an island. She’s dead now, and I didn’t stay in contact with any of those classmates, but I really want to know if she really taught us that or if I just somehow misunderstood.

  73. QuPii

    I was born and raised in America, and have been enthralled with geography and history for the majority of my 30 year life. As a very young child I touted my abilities to recite all 50 states and their capitals from memory, and recognize all 50 states by shape. However, my 80 year old grandmother was and still is convinced that there are 52 states, Alaska and Hawaii being the most recent additions. My 50 year old mother also swears she was taught that there were 52 states growing up, but cannot remember when her memory switched to 50 states and does not recall a specific reason for her change in stance neither. It has been a source of many heated discussions, which end in cross-referencing 60+ year old atlases, 30 year old encyclopedias, and the internet.

  74. Gary

    I’m very glad to have found this site, as up until a few hours ago I was absolutely positive that there were 52 states, and recall clearly being taught this in school. I even remember painting the 52 stars on the American flag when I was at primary school in the early 1980s in England.

    Like others, I was also taught that Hawaii and Alaska were the last two states to join, and I also remember thinking “what is this nonsense!!!” when the film “The 51st State” came out, being sure that something strange must have gone down that I wasn’t aware of regarding the reclassification of some of the states. How can this be? Everyone I know was taught that the USA has or at least did have 52 states.

    I particularly remembered this fact because I love mathematics and knew that 52 = 4 x 13 and that there were originally 13 colonies. This is too bizarre!!!

    The only thing on the planet hat I know of that potentially has the power to mess with the timeline is the Large Hadron Collider over there in Switzerland at CERN. Could any of these inconsistencies be connected?

  75. Brian S.

    I have heard various people on this site describe paradoxical duel memories. I share many (if not most) of the alternate memories listed and mentioned here, but have only one set of duel memories, and that is regarding the states. I clearly remember 50 states AND 52 states. In regards to my 52-state memory, I remember my OCD feathers always being fuffled over the uneven number of states, but inwardly aknowledged that mathmatical symmetry was not a higher priority than national inclusion. And then, coexisting with that memory, I remember wondering if the flag could be easily redesigned (in an as asthetically pleasing/symmetrical form as the 50-star design of this timeline) to accomodate any new states that could theoretically be added to the existing 50.

    Having alternate memories can be strange. To anyone who hasn’t experienced duel memories, let me tell you – it’s even weirder.

  76. Cas

    I am from the USA and I remember being taught that there are 50 states and 1 district. Hench 51?? I always got confused when referencing the District of Columbia because I wanted to call it a state and was quickly corrected by my US government teacher. I have always known there are 50 states, with Hawaii and Alaska being the newest additions and Washington D.C. being a district not a state.

  77. Susso

    I’ve been at this for a day now. I can’t seem to get away from it, which makes me suspicious that it may just be another program to keep me thinking. If that’s the case, it’s working.

    I remember being taught that Alaska and Hawaii were 51 & 52. It seems very odd to me to think there were 48 and those two made 50. I also recall in the mid to late 80’s New Jersey was to become North Jersey and South Jersey. I remember it being a done deal, but it never happened. I remember people talking about Puerto Rico possibly becoming a state, but also never occurring.

    I have also had many of the memories listed here of celebrities dying so i will not repeat … But won’t it be interesting when it happens to someone not so famous?

    I have also noticed that the longer I explore a subject on the Mandela Effect … I start to question my initial response, even if i was 100% sure. Like Mirror, mirror.


  78. Dianne

    I am not from the US. I was a good and smart young student when zi was in Grade school. I remember my mom telling me that there are now 51 or 52 states because this particular place she mentioned is now a state (current news that time in the 90’s). I remember thinking how the US flag would look like and remember them discussing the additional star. This is really baffling.

  79. Kristbjorg

    Im from Iceland and was sure for many years there where 52 states in the US. Im born in 1987 and have watched A LOT of American TV and it still catches me off guard when I hear something about the 50 states.

  80. Benaissa

    Actually, i’m a little bit confused about the number of the states of the USA .
    I found in some websites that there are 54 staes in the USA .

  81. Fiona Broome Post author

    54 states…? Wow, as if the 51/52 states issue wasn’t quirky enough! There are 50 states. When in doubt, count the number of stars on the current version of the American flag.

  82. QuPii

    I’m not sure that counting the stars on the flag would be an accurate measurement. I recall reading an article/declaration that stated something along the lines of, in the event of additional states, stars would not be added to the flag to maintain the symbolism of the details on the flag. Again, just a recollection and unsure of its validity. It does raise an interesting line of conversation about the flag remaining the same in parallel universes, but the number of states being different.

    Also, there are over sixteen U.S. Territories, so why is the mismatched memories only a difference of 1 to 2 states?


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