Saturday, September 7, 2013

We're Number One

Growing up neither mick, nor polack, nor dago, but kraut in Western New York, I often felt like I did not belong, but it turns out that not only was I a member of the plurality nationally, something I came to learn later, but also locally, which I just learned clicking on these fascinating maps — German-Americans Are the Biggest US Ethnic Group.

I guess we're just too quiet and unassuming, i.e. German, to prance around about our ethnicity, for me to have even noticed. From the article:
    49,206,934 Germans

    By far the largest ancestral group, stretching from coast to coast across 21st century America is German, with 49,206,934 people. The peak immigration for Germans was in the mid-19th century as thousands were driven from their homes by unemployment and unrest.

    The majority of German-Americans can now be found in the the center of the nation, with the majority living in Maricopa County, Arizona and according to Business Insider, famous German-Americans include, Ben Affleck, Tom Cruise, Walt Disney, Henry J. Heinz and Oscar Mayer.

    Indeed, despite having no successful New World colonies, the first significant groups of German immigrants arrived in the United States in the 1670s and settled in New York and Pennsylvania.

    Germans were attracted to America for familiar reasons, open tracts of land and religious freedom and their contributions to the nation included establishing the first kindergartens, Christmas trees and hot dogs and hamburgers.

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Blogger Pints in NYC said...

Good stuff. It's a bit dated, though (2000 census). Here is a similiar map, but showing religious denoninations by county:

More specific denominational maps here at this link, too:

September 8, 2013 at 1:30 PM  
Blogger Mark in Spokane said...

As an American of partial German ancestry, whose grandmother was old enough to remember (and pass on) stories of living through 1917, the collapse of German-American identity was a result of deliberate government policy to scrub "disloyalty" out of the German-American community. Out when German and German identity, and German-Americans married non-Germans to help scrub their names (my mother has an English name thanks to her Anglo-Norwegian father and I have a French name thanks to my dad's Franco-Canadian heritage). I still have memories of my grandmother telling me not to refer to myself as a "German" but as a "Bavarian." And the language? Forget it. Don't learn it, it will mark you out. You need to pass. Learn Spanish or French if you want to learn a foreign language...

The extermination of the German culture in America is one of the few horror stories of American history that has been left unexplored. Of course, German-Americans have been the backbone of this country, participating in saving the country numerous times, from defending the Union during the Civil War to being key leadership in World War I (Pershing, originally spelled Persching) and World War II (Eisenhower).

September 8, 2013 at 8:55 PM  
Blogger 장흥저널 Jangheung Journal 長興日報 said...

I still can't believe the Scots aren't the largest ethnic group in America (think of all people named Smith, Brown, MacDonald, etc). The BBC did a short piece on the German dialect in Texas:

Germans are successful pretty much everywhere they go: Brazil comes to mind. As does Kazakhstan, home of Bishop Athanasius Schneider.

September 9, 2013 at 5:45 AM  
Blogger Iosue Andreas Sartorius said...

J.J., my guess is that the Scots are largest in Canada... and in the American South. Thanks for the links. Ike was a German-Texan.

Mark, that explains it. Thanks.

Pints, always interesting. I probably felt out of place because I was Lutheran in one of the few majority Catholic areas. Now, I'm Catholic.

September 10, 2013 at 1:15 AM  
Blogger M. Jordan Lichens said...

You can probably look at my last name and realize that I too am of German-American ancestry. It's odd, but our family spoke German even into the 1930's when it was suddenly not too good of us to remember our ancestry. This was especially infuriating to me as our family built the first bank and general store in Fort Jones, where my ancestors settled after fleeing Prussia.

In fact, our German culture was so unassuming I identified with my Irish side most of my life until about a dozen boxes of documents and several paintings of my ancestors made its way to me. It's quite the immigrants story but I just recently learned to have pride in my German ancestry.

September 11, 2013 at 11:22 PM  

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