Today’s post is about mapping 1890 German ancestry in the U.S.

There are more Americans of German extraction living in this country today than any other ethnicity. At least seven million German natives emigrated to the United States between 1800 and the present.

Most arrived between 1840 and 1914, with peak immigration to America in the early 1880s, as was the case with my German ancestors. Driven by limited opportunities in German-speaking countries of Europe, many emigrants settled in the Midwest, large cities in the East, the state of Washington, and parts of Texas and California.

Using data from the now-lost 1890 census, the map above shows relative population density of “natives of Germanic nations” across the U.S. Twenty individuals or more per square mile are the darkest areas; the lightest color shows fewer than one-half per square mile.

Cities and areas with sizable Germanic populations established German-language schools, churches, clubs and fraternal organizations, theaters, cemeteries, newspapers, and publishing houses. Mapping 1890 German ancestry can help you with your research by indicating if your ancestors settled in an area with a large fellow-immigrant population where these resources may have been available.

The Max Kade Institute for German-American Studies at the University of Wisconsin has a free PDF available for download on German immigrants building communities, entitled “How German Is American? Building Communities.”

Advance your German immigrant ancestor hunt by finding out about these German-language resources, particularly cemeteries, and obituaries in German-language newspapers.