Course Information Table of Contents Lesson 2

L e s s o n 1


1. Key personalities

Oswald Seidensticker (1825-1894). German-born historian. While teaching German at the Univ. of Pennsylvania, he published pioneering studies on the history of German settlement in Pennsylvania.

Marion Dexter Learned (1857-1917). Germanist and pioneer student of Pennsylvania German dialects. Professor at the Univ. of Pennsylvania and editor of the influential monograph series German-American Annals.

Julius Goebel (1857-1931). Born and trained in Germany, Goebel immigrated to the U.S. in 1881. Germanist at the Univ. of Illinois and editor of Deutsch-Amerikanische Geschichtsblätter. Although published by the German-American Historical Society of Illinois, this periodical is a source for wide-ranging information on German-American Studies in general.

Henry Chapman Mercer (1856-1930). Local historian in Doylestown, PA who pioneered the study of Pennsylvania German arts and crafts, particularly pottery. His book The Bible in Iron is a classic study of decorative cast-iron panels on Pennsylvania German stoves.

Albert Bernhard Faust (1870-1951). Born in Baltimore, trained at Johns Hopkins and Berlin, Faust was an historian and literary scholar. He was the first to penetrate the pseudonym "Charles Sealsfield" and to clarify the career of the writer Karl Postl (1793-1864). Faust's book The German Element in the United States (1909, revised 1927) is a classic.

Carl Wittke. Historian born in Ohio, the author of numerous studies on immigration to the U.S.

Alexander R. Hohlfeld. German-born and trained literary scholar at the Univ. of Wisconsin whose particular interest was in Anglo-German literary relations.

Karl J. R. Arndt (1904-1991). American-born scholar known particularly for his studies of the German-American press and of the religious community of George Rapp's Harmonists in Indiana and Pennsylvania.

Heinz Kloss (1904-1987). A German scholar who traveled to the U.S. before World War II to do research on the Pennsylvania Germans and other German speech islands. He became an authority on linguistic minorities and deserves recognition as the outstanding German-Americanist in Germany.

2. Main trends

Throughout most of the 19th century American intellectual life was dominated by a point of view which emphasized the cultural contributions of immigrants from the British Isles to the virtual exclusion of other immigrant groups. By the end of that century, however, a small group of American scholars had begun to investigate the history of German settlement in America and to pay serious attention to such areas of research as German-language writers in America, the German language in America, the German-American stage, and the German-American press. By 1914, however, rapid assimilation and changing patterns of immigration had begun to undermine the importance of the German element as a culturally distinct ethnic group in the U.S. The wave of anti-German sentiment which swept the U.S. during World War I also had a negative effect on German-American Studies for several years. In 1934 the Carl Schurz Foundation in Philadelphia began publication of the American-German Review as an entertaining but highly informative clearinghouse for current studies in the German-American field. In 1953 Henry A. Pochmann and Arthur R. Schultz published their remarkable Bibliography of German Culture in America to 1940,which remains one of the crucial points of departure for research in German-American Studies.

The "ethnic revival" of the 1960s and 1970s witnessed an intensified interest in the cultural heritage of a number of American ethnic groups within a multicultural society. General and ethno-specific genealogical societies became popular. In academia this movement led to the establishment of German-American research institutes such as those at the Univ. of Kansas, the Univ. of Wisconsin-Madison, the Univ. of Houston, Indiana Univ.-Purdue Univ. at Indianapolis, Pennsylvania State Univ., and Millersville Univ. in Pennsylvania. Courses in German-American Studies are now offered at about 30 colleges and universities in the U.S. and Canada while study units in German-American Studies are incorporated into courses at a number of other universities. The Univ. of Wisconsin-Milwaukee offers a Certificate of Ethnic Studies with a concentration in German-American Studies. Other important centers for the field are at the Univ. of Cincinnati with its extensive German Americana Collection, St. Olaf College at Northfield, MN, and the Univ. of Texas, Arlington.

In recent years the Society for German-American Studies has served as a focus for serious academic study in the German-American field. The society holds annual meetings and publishes a yearbook with an annual bibliography. Other significant journals in the field are Schatzkammer and the German journal Amerika-Studien.

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Created: 4 August 1998, SEL
Updated: 17 November 2007, BAS
Comments to: Eberhard Reichmann,
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