Pennsylvania Immigrants

From cold, rainy Utah and wrapped in blankets with the flu, I want to share 2 amazing books on immigration.   These books were written a few years ago.  Their value for genealogy has grown with time.  I recommend them to you:

  1. Alexander, June G.  The Immigrant Church and Its Community:  Pittsburgh‘s Slovak Catholics and Lutherans, 1880-1915.  University of Pittsburgh, 1987.
  2. Fogelman, Aaron Spencer.  Hopeful Journeys:  German Immigration, Settlement, and Political Culture in Colonial America, 1717-1775. University of Pennsylvania, 1996.

Alexander states that the  baptismal, marriage, and burial records of Slovak churches give the village origins and county locations for parents of children baptized.  The village origins are also available for Godparents.  65% of persons married came from the same Slovak county.  And it was customary to choose godparents from the same village where the parents originated.

From these details, Ms Alexander studies the kinship networks of the people who migrated to Pittsburgh.  Their friendships.  Their church attendance within parishes that are ethnic units.  And she compared the church books with newspapers and the records of  fraternal societies.

The bulk of this population came from North Hungary.

Fogelman examines the history of the largest non-English immigrant group to settle in North America–the Germans.  Using both archival and published sources, many never used by English-speaking historians, he emphasizes that Germans coming to America was a pattern of immigration, not colonization nor settlement.  And it was based on kinship and commercial networks.

Fogelman traces the different migrant groups from their origins in Europe to their final settlement  in British North America.  Their Old World customs, their religious beliefs, their kinship ties show these immigrants forged a new Americanized identity.  They incorporated their Germanness into American life.

Unlike other immigrants, the Germans clustered in rural villages and ethnic neighborhoods in towns.  Here they imprinted their culture on American soil.

While this study is largely interpretive, you will find the specific elements that will enable you to recognize your German background wherever you find it.  Your favorite genealogist, Arlene Eakle

PS  While  tending my flu, I have been revising the 15 volumes of Immigration Digest, replacing #8, #12, and #15.  These issues will be expanded in a whole volume on Tracing Scots-Irish Ancestry.  An integral part of this new version, will be Afton Reintjes’ Scotch-Irish Research in an up-dated and much expanded format.

PPS  Much of what has been written about Scots-Irish genealogy is incomplete and incorrect.  No wonder so many people have trouble making a connection across the ocean.  Genealogists need special help and instructions–especially where the records are and what they contain.  Afton, Linda Brinkerhoff, and I hope to change that dismal picture.  Stay tuned–I will soon launch my Scots-Irish blog.

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