Germans in America (European Reading Room, Library of Congress) (2023)

1608- Several Germans were among the settlers of Jamestown.

1626- Peter Minuit, a German, came to New Amsterdam to serve as governor of the Dutch colony of New Netherland. He later ruled the Swedish colony in Delaware.

1683- Looking for thirteen families of German Mennonitesfreedom of religioncame to Pennsylvania; Led by Franz Pastorius, they bought 43,000 acres of land and established Germantown, six miles north of Philadelphia.

An elderly Amish couple, a 1940.
Prints and Photographs Department

losConestoga WagonIt was designed and built by German settlers in Pennsylvania.
Prints and Photographs Department

1700- Continued settlement of the British colonies by small German-speaking religious communities. Groups included Swiss Mennonites, Dunker Baptists, Schwenkfelds, Moravian, Amish, and Waldensians; Most German immigrants belonged to the major Lutheran and Reformed churches. The central colonies in particular received most of this immigrationPennsylvania. Up to half of these immigrants came as redeemers, meaning they agreed to work in the United States for four to seven years in exchange for free passage across the Atlantic. German colonists designed and built the Conestoga wagon used to open the American border.

1731- Protestants were expelledSalzburg, Austria, this year. They later founded Ebenezer, Georgia.

Two 18th-century German maps of Ebenezer, Georgia.
Prints and Photographs Department

The cover of the music manuscript.Paradise Wonder Set...(Ephrata, Pennsylvania, 1754)is a fine example of the intricate German Fraktur script used in the religious community of Ephrata, Pennsylvania.
music department

1732- The first German-language newspaper,Philadelphia-Zeitung, was released in the United States. German publishing thrived in Philadelphia and in smaller communities like Ephrata, Pennsylvania.

1733- John Peter Zenger, who came to the United States as a servant from the Palatinate, founded a newspaper, The New-York Weekly Journal; two years later he was acquitted in a landmark press freedom trial.

A first edition of Philadelphia-Zeitung. The main story is about a peace treaty between Persia and the Turkish Empire.
Series and Government Publications Division

Bethlehem, Pennsylvanien, founded by the Moravians in 1741, is shown here in a late 18th-century illustration.
Prints and Photographs Department

1741- The Moravians founded Bethlehem and Nazareth, Pennsylvania.

1742- Christopher Saur, a German printer in Philadelphia, printed the first Bible in America.

1778- General Friedrich Wilhelm von Steuben, a Prussian officer, became Inspector General of the Continental Army.

1783- Up to 5,000 of the Hessian soldiers hired by Britain for the Revolutionary War remained in the United States after hostilities ended.

(Video) German Almanacs in 18th-Century North America

Juan Jacob Astor (1763-1848)
Prints and Photographs Department

1784- John Jacob Astor (1763-1848) left his Waldorf village in Germany and came to the United States in 1784 with 25 dollars and seven flutes. He amassed a fortune from real estate and the fur trade and was by far the richest man in the country at his death, with an estimated fortune of $20 million.

1790- Up to this date up to 100,000 Germans may have emigrated to America; they and their descendants made up about 8.6 percent of the population of the United States; in Pennsylvania they represented 33 percent of the population; in Maryland 12 percent.

1804- A Protestant group from Württemberg, named the Rapists after their leader George Rapp, founded a utopian church in Harmony, Pennsylvania.

1814- The Raptors bought 30,000 acres of land in Indiana and formed a new settlement, New Harmony. In 1825 they returned to Pennsylvania and founded Economy, 20 miles northwest of Pittsburgh. Other cities established by religious groups during this period were Zoar, Ohio, Amana, Iowa, and St. Nazianz, Wisconsin.

Tomás Nast (1840-1902)He came to the United States as a child and rose to fame as a political cartoonist, most notably for his drawings of the notoriously corrupt New York politician William Marcy "Boss" Tweed in the 1870s.
Prints and Photographs Department

This Nast drawing bySanta ClausIt can still be seen today during the Christmas season.
Prints and Photographs Department

1821- The Germanic custom of having a specially decorated tree at Christmas was introduced to America by the Pennsylvania Dutchs in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. Later in the century, the Pennsylvania Dutch version of Saint Nicholas, Sinterklaas, America's Father Christmas, was popularized by a German immigrant and influential political cartoonist, Thomas Nast. The Easter bunny and Easter eggs were also brought to this country by German immigrants.

1829- Gottfried Duden published in Germany his idyllic account of the years he spent as a settler in Missouri; The book was so popular that it was published in three editions and prompted many Germans to leave for the New World.

John Nepomuceno Neumann (1811-60)
Prints and Photographs Department

1836- John Nepomucene Neumann (1811-60) came to the United States from his native Bohemia in 1836 to serve as a priest in the country's German-speaking Roman Catholic communities. He founded the first American diocesan school system and became Bishop of Philadelphia in 1852. In 1977 he was appointed by Pope Paul VI. canonized.

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1837- Founded the German Settlement Society of Philadelphia and acquired 12,000 acres of land in Gasconade County, Missouri; two years later, the town of Hermann with 450 inhabitants was incorporated from the company.

1844- Prince Carl von Solms-Braunfels sailed to America with three ships and 150 families to settle in Texas; the following year, New Braunfels, Texas, was founded.

1847- The Missouri Synod of the Lutheran Church was founded by German immigrants to oppose the liberalization of Lutheranism in the United States.

Besides being a man of action,Carl Schurz (1829-1906)He was also a skilled writer of biographies: his own and that of Henry Clay, a politician whom he greatly admired.
Prints and Photographs Department

1848-49- The failure of the 1848 revolutions to establish democracy caused thousands to leave Germany for America; the most famous of these refugees was Carl Schurz. He later served as a Union general in the Civil War, United States Senator from Missouri, and Secretary of the Interior under President Rutherford B. Hayes.

1850- Nearly a million Germans have immigrated to the United States in this decade, one of the peak times of German immigration; In 1854 alone, 215,000 Germans came to this country.

1856- Margaretha Meyer Schurz, a German immigrant and wife of Carl Schurz, founded the first kindergarten in the United States in Watertown, Wisconsin.

Adolf Busch
Prints and Photographs Department

1857- Adolphus Busch (1839-1913) left the Rhineland and settled in St. Louis, Missouri. Four years later he married the daughter of a wealthy brewer. In addition to the children, this association led to the creation of what would soon become an industry giant with interests across the country: the Anheuser-Busch Brewing Association.

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1860- Approximately 1.3 million German-born immigrants lived in the United States; In Germany, 200 magazines and newspapers were published in German; In St. Louis alone there were seven German-language newspapers.

1872- Centuries-old privileges granted to German peasants residing in Russia were revoked by the Tsarist government, leading to the emigration of thousands of peasants. By 1920 there were more than 100,000 of these so-called Volga and Black Sea Germans in the United States, with the largest numbers in the Dakotas, Nebraska, and Colorado. The Black Sea Germans soon became known for their skill as wheat farmers. In 1990, about one million descendants of these Russian Germans lived in the United States.

At the end of the 19th century, German immigrants boarded a ship bound for America..
Prints and Photographs Department

1880- In that decade, the decade of peak German immigration, about 1.5 million Germans left their country to settle in the United States; about 250,000, the largest number in history, arrived in 1882.

1890- An estimated 2.8 million German-born immigrants lived in the United States. Most Germans living in the United States lived in the "German Triangle" whose three points were Cincinnati, Milwaukee, and St. Louis.

Cover of the Sunday edition of July 18, 1886 N.Y. state newspaper.
Department of Magazines and Government Publications

1894- About 800 German-language periodicals were printed in the United States, the highest number ever. A typical newspaper was the New York State newspaper.

1910- About 2.3 million German-born immigrants lived in the United States that year. With declining immigration and increasing assimilation, the number of German-language publications fell to around 550.

United States: Percentage of native-born Germans in the total population, 1914
Department of Geography and Maps

(Video) German Influence on The American Revolution

1920- About 1.7 million German-born immigrants lived in the United States; the number of publications in German was reduced to around 230.

1933- Adolf Hitler's rise to power in Germany led to a significant immigration of leading German scientists, writers, musicians, academics and other artists and intellectuals to the United States to escape persecution. Among them were personalities such as Albert Einstein, Bruno Walter, Arnold Schönberg, Walter Gropius, Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, Hans Bethe, Thomas Mann, Marlene Dietrich, Kurt Weil, Billy Wilder, Hannah Arendt and Hans Morgenthau. At the end of World War II, approximately 130,000 of these German and Austrian refugees were living in the United States.

1940- An estimated 1.2 million German-born immigrants lived in the United States.

1948- The Displaced Persons Act established general rules for the immigration of Eastern European displaced persons, including ethnic Germans, to the United States.

1950- Between 1951 and 1960, 580,000 Germans emigrated to the United States.

1960- Between 1961 and 1970, 210,000 Germans immigrated to the USA.

Current issue of the California State Newspaper
Series and Government Publications Division

1970- Between 1971 and 1980, 65,000 Germans immigrated to the USA.

1983- The United States and Germany celebrated the German-American Tercentennial, marking the 300th anniversary of German immigration to Pennsylvania.

(Video) Nazi-Looted Books Still Far from Home

1987- German-American Day was introduced by Congress resolution and Presidential Proclamation.

1990- According to the Census Bureau, 58 million Americans reported all or part German ancestry. German-Americans were highly assimilated, and the use of German in the United States had declined dramatically. A few German-language newspapers continued to appear in the United States, such as the California Staats-Zeitung.


Who are the Germans in 1883? ›

In 1883, a group of some 17 families led by Johann Frederich Rosenoff arrive in Adams County and settle near Ritzville. They are known as Volga Germans because they are German-speaking and German-identified former residents of Russia's Volga River valley.

Why are there so many Germans in America? ›

They migrated to America for a variety of reasons. Push factors involved worsening opportunities for farm ownership in central Europe, persecution of some religious groups, and military conscription; pull factors were better economic conditions, especially the opportunity to own land, and religious freedom.

What nationality are the immigrants in 1883? ›

While they have been an element of the series from the beginning, they undoubtedly play a more significant role in episode 4, titled 'The Crossing'. They are European, hailing from Germany, and Josef is established as one of the few amongst them that can speak English.

Where did German immigrants settle in the US? ›

The largest settlements of Germans were in New York City, Baltimore, Cincinnati, St. Louis and Milwaukee. With the vast numbers of German and Irish coming to America, hostility to them erupted. Part of the reason for the opposition was religious.

What US city has the largest German population? ›

Milwaukee is the most German of major American cities, and Germans have constituted Milwaukee's largest immigrant group.

What is the most German city in America? ›

Frankenmuth is a small town in Michigan, located just 90 miles north of Detroit. The interesting thing about Frankenmuth is the fact that it's the most German town in the USA.

What do you call a German American? ›

Famous German-Americans. German-Americans (Deutschamerikaner) can be described as citizens of the United States with German ancestry, or people from Germany who have since become naturalized US citizens.

Are Americans descended from Germans? ›

15% of Americans Have German Ancestry.

What percent of US is German? ›

There are more than 49 million people with German ancestry in the United States, a number that accounts for 16 percent of the American population.

What port did German immigrants leave from? ›

Southern and western Germans tended to emigrate through the ports of Bremen or Le Havre. Northern and eastern Germans tended to leave through Hamburg. The records of departures from these ports are called passenger lists.

When did most German immigrants come to America? ›

1880s - In this decade, the decade of heaviest German immigration, nearly 1.5 million Germans left their country to settle in the United States; about 250,000, the greatest number ever, arrived in 1882. 1890 - An estimated 2.8 million German-born immigrants lived in the United States.

What problems did German immigrants face in America? ›

As Europe was ravaged by fighting, German immigrants in the US suffered harassment, internment, lynchings - and even the humiliation of being tarred and feathered. Although a little-remembered part of history today, America was wracked by the fear and paranoia that swept from coast to coast during the Great War.

Why did Germans leave in 1880s? ›

Industrialization could not provide decent-paying jobs, and political rights were limited. Dissatisfied with the lack of land and opportunity, many Germans left.

What pushed German immigrants to America? ›

Most German immigrants came for economic reasons. The United States seemed to offer greater economic opportunity and freedom from government regulation. While most Irish immigrants were Catholics, German immigrant groups included Catholics, Jews, and Protestants.

What was Germany called before? ›

Before it was called Germany, it was called Germania. In the years A.D. 900 – 1806, Germany was part of the Holy Roman Empire. From 1949 to 1990, Germany was made up of two countries called the Federal Republic of Germany (inf. West Germany) and the German Democratic Republic (inf.

What state speaks the most German? ›

Over 50 million Americans claim German ancestry, which makes them the largest single claimed ancestry group in the United States.
German speakers in the United States by states in 2000.
StateGerman speakers
New York92,709
4 more rows

Why is Wisconsin primarily German? ›

Germans were the largest immigrant group to settle in Wisconsin in the 19th century. They were also the largest group of European immigrants to the United States in the 19th century. Most entered in three major waves between 1845 and 1900, spurred by political, social, and economic upheavals in Europe.

Where is the largest German community outside of Germany? ›

By population, Pennsylvania (4.5 million), California (6.5 million), Illinois (2.7 million), Texas (2.5 million), Wisconsin (2.4 million), Michigan (2.2 million) and New York (2.2 million) are the largest German communities.

What state has a replica of a Bavarian town? ›

Helen, Georgia

Helen's transformation into a little Bavaria isn't limited to architecture—the town is known for its Oktoberfest, Alpenfest, and Volksmarch celebrations.

Where is German most spoken in the US? ›

German is the most common language spoken at home other than English or Spanish in Idaho, Montana, Wyoming, Colorado, North Dakota, Indiana, Ohio, Kentucky, and South Carolina.

Does Texas have a lot of Germans? ›

Current distribution and population

Gillespie County, with the communities of Fredericksburg, Harper, Stonewall, and Luckenbach, has a German-speaking population of 2,270, 11.51% of the county's total. In all, 82,100 German-speakers reside in the state of Texas, including European German speakers.

What is a common German female name? ›

Along with Alice and Emma, the top German girl names in the US Top 1000 today include Adele, Amelia, Annalise, Ella, Elsa, Emmeline, Millie, and Zelda. In Germany, unique girl names with modern style include Anja, Frieda, Ida, Maude, Romy, and Tilly.

What are German Mexicans called? ›

German Mexicans (German: Deutschmexikaner or Deutsch-Mexikanisch, Spanish: germano-mexicano or alemán-mexicano) are Mexican citizens of German descent or origin. Various estimates: 11,398 German nationals residing in Mexico (OECD, 2019).

Is the US mostly German? ›

Currently 40 to 60 million Americans cite “German” as their primary origin and thus represent the largest immigrant group – even greater than those descended from Irish and Italians.

What is the race of a German person? ›

The German ethnicity emerged among Germanic peoples of Western and Central Europe, particularly the Franks, Frisians, Saxons, Thuringii, Alemanni and Baiuvarii. The beginnings of the German states can be traced back to the Frankish king Clovis I, who established the kingdom of Francia in the 5th century.

What is the DNA of the Germans? ›

As such, German DNA is extremely prevalent all over the world these days. Today, Germany is 90% European, with 75% being native German. While those percentages make it seem like Germany is ethnically homogenous for the most part, don't be fooled—there is great diversity within the country when it comes to ancestry.

Are most Americans German or Irish? ›

Norwegian is a common ancestry in three states, while German is among the top two in 35 states.
German, Irish Are Most Common Ancestries in Majority of U.S. States.
Most Common Ancestries By State
Rhode IslandItalianIrish
South CarolinaEnglishIrish
South DakotaGermanNorwegian
48 more rows
22 Feb 2019

What percent of German is black? ›

Germany's colonial period ended early, after World War I, and until recently, there has been little opportunity to immigrate. As a result, Blacks comprise only about one percent of the German population.

What is the largest ethnicity in the United States? ›

As of 2020, White Americans are the racial and ethnic majority, with non-Hispanic whites representing 57.8% of the population. Hispanic and Latino Americans are the largest ethnic minority, comprising 18.7% of the population, while Black or African Americans are the second largest racial minority, making up 12.1%.

What is a German name for a boy? ›

Unique German boy names to watch include Amory, Ansel, Benno, Boden, Hugo, Leopold, Luther, Otis, Otto, Roland, Walden, Wilbur, and Wolf.

Why did so many Germans settle in Pennsylvania? ›

In all, some 65,000 German-speaking immigrants settled in Pennsylvania prior to the American Revolution. Some German migrants fled intolerance and persecution, and others sought the economic and social freedom imbued in William Penn's promise of toleration.

What towns were settled by German immigrants? ›

Migration west led to concentrations of German immigrants in cities such as Cincinnati, Milwaukee, St. Louis, and St. Paul. Smaller communities founded by German immigrants often reflected the names of cities they had come from in Germany, such as Berlin, Wisconsin, and Frankfort, Kentucky.

What ports did German immigrants enter the US? ›

German Immigration to the United States

This immigration database includes more than 4 million Germans who arrived in the United States between 1850 and 1897 through the ports of Baltimore, Boston, New Orleans, New York, and Philadelphia.

Why did Germans settle in Texas? ›

Some German immigrants came to Texas hoping to have better lives, while others wanted to leave behind narrow beliefs of the rulers. Many were hoping to find jobs, trying to escape overcrowding of their country, or simply seeking adventure in a new land. John Friedrich Ernst began the German migration to Texas.

Why did so many Germans settle in the Midwest? ›

The industrial revolution in Germany pushed many to migrate to the American Midwest, where they could continue to work as independent craftsmen or farmers. In Wisconsin, Peter Glass farmed and used his woodworking skills while embracing his adopted country.

Who migrated to America first? ›

The settlement of the Americas began when Paleolithic hunter-gatherers entered North America from the North Asian Mammoth steppe via the Beringia land bridge, which had formed between northeastern Siberia and western Alaska due to the lowering of sea level during the Last Glacial Maximum (26,000 to 19,000 years ago).

Why did Americans not like German immigrants? ›

But when the U.S. entered World War I, these immigrants came up against a new “anti-German hysteria.” Because Germany was one of America's adversaries in the war, many Anglo-Americans began to fear that German Americans were still loyal to the Kaiser, or German emperor.

What did German immigrants do for fun? ›

The German immigrants had many forms of entertainment, but most notably was the role music and theater. Music and theater has served to connect the old country to the new world, and to unite members of the different groups within the German immigrants that came from diverse regions of German-speaking lands.

Why did German immigrants stop speaking German? ›

German was the second most commonly-spoken language in America, and banning it seemed the way to stop German spies cold. Plus, immigrants had always been encouraged to switch from their mother tongue to English to signal their assimilation and their acceptance of American values.

Why did Germans leave Germany in the 1880s? ›

The growing population of Prussia and the independent German states outstripped the available land. Industrialization could not provide decent-paying jobs, and political rights were limited. Dissatisfied with the lack of land and opportunity, many Germans left.

Where are the group of people from on 1883? ›

Set amid the beauty of the wild and unspoiled American frontier, 1883 unravels the very beginnings of Yellowstone's Dutton Ranch. The story starts in Fort Worth, Texas, from which a group of German immigrants and a family from Tennessee seek out a better life and head north to the promised land of Montana.

What percentage of the US population is German? ›

German-Americans make up the largest self-reported ancestry group within the United States accounting for roughly 49 million people and approximately 17% of the population of the US. The states of California and Texas both have considerable German-American populations.

What is the German Triangle? ›

1890 - An estimated 2.8 million German-born immigrants lived in the United States. A majority of the German-born living in the United States were located in the "German triangle," whose three points were Cincinnati, Milwaukee, and St. Louis.

How accurate is the show 1883? ›

Is 1883 Historically Accurate? The Yellowstone prequel 1883 is fairly historically accurate, but not perfect. While the lawlessness and harsh life of the period are portrayed really well, small details like the characters' flawless teeth spoiled the experience for some viewers.

What nationality are the wagon train people on 1883? ›

They join the wagon train that will be headed by former Pinkerton Detectives Shea Brennan (Sam Elliott) and Thomas (LaMonica Garrett), who've taken on the job of steering 30 wagon trains of mostly Dutch-speaking settlers who don't carry guns to defend themselves or know how to hunt for food.


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