Mahurin Honors College Capstone Experience/Thesis Projects


Geography and Geology

Additional Departmental Affiliation

Modern Languages

Document Type



A useful marker for recognizing the impact that ethnic groups make to the social and cultural characteristics of a city are the institutions and material landscapes created by those groups. In northern Kentucky, during the 19th and early 20th centuries, German immigrants and their descendants in the city of Covington established institutions such as breweries, saloons, social associations, and churches that became the heart of ethnic neighborhoods and shaped the form of the landscape. This research examines institutional and cultural landscape markers of German cultural identity in the city of Covington, Kentucky, from 1860 to 1920. Demographic and spatial data on ethnic German neighborhoods in Covington were obtained primarily from the U.S. Census and published secondary sources such as city directories and Sanborn Fire Insurance Maps. City directories were also used to identify German cultural institutions. Maps for cartographic analysis were prepared by using Arcmap to georeference historic city maps, on top of which German institutions were mapped. Field work provided a richer contextual view of the extant representation of German heritage and culture in Covington’s Main Strasse and Mutter Gottes neighborhoods. Informal ethnographic interviews with key institutional figures helped shed light on perceptions of German heritage today. The results show growth in the number of ethnic German institutions up until 1920, after which they declined. Vitriolic anti-German sentiments perpetuating from World War I and the effects of Prohibition resulted in the dismantling of neighborhood-scale economic and social institutions such as breweries, saloons, and beer gardens.

Advisor(s) or Committee Chair

Katie Algeo, Ph.D.


Cultural History | Geographic Information Sciences | German Language and Literature | Other Geography