Publication Date

4-1-1995

Degree Program

Department of History

Degree Type

Master of Arts

Abstract

While this thesis focuses almost entirely on the German-American experience in late-antebellum Kentucky, it will, from time to time, make comparisons to immigrants elsewhere in America, especially the Irish. In addition, the thesis will explore the rich story of the strengths and weaknesses, the harmony and divisiveness, and the moderation and radicalism of Kentucky's German-born settlers. The question of cultural assimilation among immigrant groups has frequently fascinated social historians. One of the central themes of inquiry continues to be the relative speed with which various early arriving groups blend into mainstream American society, losing their former culture while making their own distinctive cultural contributions to the new society.1 Regarding the Germans specifically, historian Kathleen Neils Conzen has produced some superb work in recent years on the subject of ethnicity and assimilation.2 In a seminal article, Conzen poses the question: "How did so highly structured and sophisticated an ethnic culture disappear so completely?"3 This thesis will try to shed light on the beginning of that process using the microcosm of Kentucky's antebellum experience with German immigrants.

Disciplines

History | United States History