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German-American Oral History Project – Everybody has a Story!

Dear Members and Friends,

We recently announced a revival of our oral history project for Americans who are either immigrants from a German-speaking country themselves or whose ancestors immigrated from a historically German-speaking region, and we hope that we can count on your participation. Everybody has a story, and we want to learn yours!

Why is this important?
Millions of people from German-speaking lands came to these shores in the last 400 years. They were motivated to escape religious persecution and economic hardships,  by a desire for personal and political freedoms their native countries could not provide, or perhaps driven by a sense of adventure in the “land of opportunity”. Although they may share commonalities, every individual is unique. We want to learn more about your history, that of your ancestors, community, culture, and faith. This will provide valuable data that will enable researchers and historians to better understand German-American history and culture, and teach students how to do scholarly research, conduct interviews and write biographies about the rich history of German-Americans. By participating in the German-American Oral History Project, you are helping us preserve and record the rich heritage of German-American immigrants in the United States.
Our goal is to gather narratives from people just like you about the immigration of people from German-speaking countries to the United States, personal as well as family memories, and stories about contemporary German-American life. We hope that researchers and historians will be able to gain a better understanding of the German-American history and culture through the data and stories collected here at the German-American Heritage Museum. We have prepared a short online questionnaire for you that provides us with basic demographic information. This questionnaire will only take a few minutes. However, we are also eager to have your recorded testimony. Please start your recording by stating either your full name or just your first name and where you live now. You can also let us know your age/age range in your recording, but it is not mandatory. 
Here are some pointers for your consideration, and to help you get started:
  • What does being an American of German/German-speaking descent mean for you?
  • How has your image of Germany and/or the United States changed over time?
  • Do you have personal memories of Germany/Austria, etc?
  • What do you see as typically German?
  • Do you have a favorite tradition or custom?
  • If you were born outside of the United States, why and at what age did you leave?
  • Do you speak an unusual dialect? Do you have relatives who speak such a dialect?
Please don’t feel limited by these guidelines. We want you to express yourself freely, and not be overly constrained by the provided framework. To record your narrative, you can use a recording app (e.g., on your smartphone or tablet) and save the file as an mp3, or you can click on this link, and record and save your narrative free of charge here. Open the website and start recording by clicking on the red button. Once you are finished recording, please save your file to your hard drive and email it to [email protected].
Important: By participating and sending us your questionnaire, you grant us permission to publish your responses and your recorded narrative. 
Thank you in advance for helping us learn more about the diverse German-American community and for sharing your story with us.
Stay safe and healthy.

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