German Society of Pennsylvania

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The house of society

The German Society of Pennsylvania is a society that has existed since 1764 and is dedicated to researching the German contribution to American history and culture and related performances. At the same time, the German dialect, which is strongly influenced by the Palatinate, the Pennsylvania Deitsch is cultivated. The organization originated in Northern Liberties, now a district of Philadelphia .


The first German immigrants came from Krefeld in 1683, led by Franz Daniel Pastorius . Many poor immigrants signed contracts, often in English , requiring them to work four or five years to finance the crossing. After arriving in the New World , they were resold as workers.

The German Society of Pennsylvania was created to alleviate the effects of this type of slave labor or bondage and to raise morale. It was founded on December 26, 1764, making it the oldest company of its kind in the United States . The first president of the German Society of Pennsylvania was the emigrant from Treschklingen , Johann Heinrich Keppele , whose grandson Michael became mayor of Philadelphia in 1801.

Reading room of the Horner Memorial Library

The German Society resided in the Lutheran school building on Cherry Street. In 1783 the idea of setting up a library arose from a donation of six books . Here is also the oldest Bible printed in the USA , the Christopher Sauer Bible from 1743.

In 1887 the company succeeded in acquiring the Spring Garden Street townhouse , in which it still resides today. Under the direction of Antonie Ehrlich, twelve women founded the Women's Auxiliary , which in 1908 had around 800 members.

In 1914 the society had 624 members, but the number of members declined during the Great Depression and World War II . In 1945 there were only about 350 members.

After the end of the war, the society supported the population in Germany together with the Women's Auxiliary and American Relief for Central Europe .

In the 1960s, the GSP, together with the American Association of Teachers of German, began a teaching program that still exists today. This includes theater performances and a youth group for dances, readings and other cultural performances. In addition, there are scholarships for German students who research the influence of German immigrants in North America and want to use the library with its 70,000 volumes and other research opportunities.

At the beginning of the 21st century, the society again had around 700 members.


  • Harry W. Pfund: A History of the German Society of Pennsylvania: Bicentenary Edition 1764–1964 , Philadelphia: German Society of Pennsylvania 1964
  • Oswald Seidensticker, Max Heinrici: History of the German Society of Pennsylvania, 1764-1917 . Philadelphia, Pa .: Reprint by Graf & Breuninger, 1917.

Web links


  1. Anne and Helmut Schüßler: Treschklingen - From the knightly Kraichgaudorf to the district of Bad Rappenau. City of Bad Rappenau, Bad Rappenau 2004, ISBN 3-936866-02-3
  2. ^ The Pennsylvania German Society .