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Pennsylvania Germans

, 592 pages

27 color photos, 103 halftones, 1 map

January 2017



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Pennsylvania Germans

An Interpretive Encyclopedia

Winner of the CHOICE Outstanding Academic Title of the Choice ACRL


Destined to become the standard reference on Pennsylvania Germans (also known as the "Pennsylvania Dutch"), this book is the first survey of this extensive American group in nearly seventy-five years. Nineteen broad interpretive essays written by a distinguished group of historians, anthropologists, sociologists, linguists, and folklorists tell the rich and nuanced story of Pennsylvania German history and culture.

United by a distinct (and distinctly American) language, the Pennsylvania Germans have been slower to assimilate than other ethnic groups. This sweeping volume reveals, though, that the group is much less homogenous and isolated than was previously thought. From architecture, media, and farming techniques to food, folklore, and medicine, the Pennsylvania Germans and their descendants display a wide range of cultural variation. In Pennsylvania Germans, editors Simon J. Bronner and Joshua R. Brown broaden the geographical and social coverage of the group, touching both on Pennsylvanian communities and the Pennsylvania German diaspora, including settlements in Canada and Mexico. They also expand historical coverage of the Pennsylvania Germans to the twentieth and twenty-first centuries.

Beautifully illustrated, this volume—while paying tribute to the historical and cultural legacy of the Pennsylvania Germans—is the most comprehensive book on the subject to date.

Contributors: R. Troy Boyer, Simon J. Bronner, Joshua R. Brown, Edsel Burdge Jr., William W. Donner, John B. Frantz, Mark Häberlein, Karen M. Johnson-Weiner, Donald B. Kraybill, David W. Kriebel, Gabrielle Lanier, Mark L. Louden, Yvonne J. Milspaw, Lisa Minardi, Steven M. Nolt, Candace Perry, Sheila Rohrer, and Diane Wenger

Simon J. Bronner is distinguished professor of American studies and folklore and the director of the Center for Pennsylvania Culture Studies at the Pennsylvania State University, Harrisburg. He is the author of Explaining Traditions: Folk Behavior in Modern Culture and the editor of Encyclopedia of American Folklife. Joshua R. Brown is associate professor of German at the University of Wisconsin–Eau Claire. He is a coeditor of The Comprehensive Pennsylvania German Dictionary.

"Essential. All readership levels."

"This volume admirably expands its analysis of culture to include the visual, from Taufscheine to Hollywood movies..."

"Here is a long-overdue and magisterial encyclopedia on the German-speaking peoples’ achievements in North America. Masterfully enhancing traditional approaches, this book sets new standards for practicing Pennsylvania German studies in our times and changes the way we think about the Pennsylvania Germans’ impact on North America."

"Guaranteed to inspire future research in the field of study, this thought-provoking and comprehensive overview of the Pennsylvania Germans will broaden the discussion of the culture’s presence and diaspora throughout North America, not merely as a relic of a preindustrial past, but as a modern, dynamic, American identity."

"An outstanding collection that describes Pennsylvania Germans' varied contributions to American society. Chronological overviews of German immigration and specialized essays on language, religion, literature, art, architecture, material culture, food, and folklife highlight this engaging volume that is an essential addition to any library."

"Everything about this anthology treating the numerous facets of Pennsylvania German studies is encyclopedic, comprehensive, multidisciplinary, and thoroughly riveting. As a compendium for the scholar and the interested lay person, Pennsylvania Germans offers up-to-date insights into an amazingly broad range of topics including history, language, literature, religious practice, material culture, cuisine, powwowing, folklife, and popular culture."

"This book is a tour de force of Pennsylvania German history, language, and culture and points to many directions for future reserach... Considering the disciplinary breadth, array of methodological approaches, and theoretical foundations, this volume should succeed in starting important dialogues."

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