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German-American Oral History
Project 2020

This summer, we 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. On this page, we will share the results of our survey and the recorded narratives with you. 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. 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.
If you want to participate in the survey, and have your voice recorded, please click here.


We received almost 60 responses from people located in many different cities and all regions of the United States, and one response from Garmisch-Partenkirchen in Bavaria. Most respondents live on the East Coast (CT, DE, FL, MD, NJ, NY and VA) while others are located in Colorado, Iowa, Kentucky, Michigan, Nebraska, New Mexico, Ohio, Tennessee, Texas and Wisconsin. Finally, several of our survey participants currently live in California, which has a thriving German-American community.

The age range is also very wide and those participants who recorded their age are between 24 and 84 years old. also asked about family origins, and received many different responses. We are still in the process of evaluating those responses, but we are pleased to provide a selection of answers:

  • I emigrated from Hamburg, Germany in 1995. After studying in Winston-Salem, NC, I settled in the Washington, DC area in 1998.

  • Multiple. One branch from Rhineland – Palatinate in 18th century and settled in Frederick County MD. Near (the) Monacacy River. Maybe have come down from Pennsylvania. Another from Darmstadt to Baltimore and them Washington DC in 1840s, and from Wurtemburg to the same. Know quite a lot about each family but don’t have access to records from Germany.

  • Maternal grandfather: Mährisch Rothwasser, Austria (now Červená Voda, Czech Republic) to Milwaukee, then St. Croix Co., then to Bayfield, WI. Maternal grandmother: Tschenkowitz (Nordböhmen), Austria (now Čenkovice, Czech Republic), then St. Croix Co., then Bayfield, WI. The trip by ship began in Hamburg. My mother was born in Milwaukee.

  • My ancestor came from Prussia, around 1850, and settled in Perryville, Ohio. Ich komme aus der Suedwest Ecke und lebe in New Jersey.

  • My mother and maternal grandparents left Crimea, S. Russia in 1911 (settled in North Dakota) and my paternal grandfather and great grandfather immigrated from Bessarabia in 1885 (settled in S. Dakota and later in N. Dakota)

Recordings of Personal Stories