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Becoming Old Stock : The Paradox of German-American Identity - Russell A. Kazal

Becoming Old Stock

The Paradox of German-American Identity

Hardcover

Published: 6th July 2004
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More Americans trace their ancestry to Germany than to any other country. Arguably, German Americans form America's largest ethnic group. Yet they have a remarkably low profile today, reflecting a dramatic, twentieth-century retreat from German-American identity. In this age of multiculturalism, why have German Americans gone into ethnic eclipse--and where have they ended up? "Becoming Old Stock" represents the first in-depth exploration of that question. The book describes how German Philadelphians reinvented themselves in the early twentieth century, especially after World War I brought a nationwide anti-German backlash.

Using quantitative methods, oral history, and a cultural analysis of written sources, the book explores how, by the 1920s, many middle-class and Lutheran residents had redefined themselves in "old-stock" terms--as "American" in opposition to southeastern European "new immigrants." It also examines working-class and Catholic Germans, who came to share a common identity with other European immigrants, but not with newly arrived black Southerners.

"Becoming Old Stock" sheds light on the way German Americans used race, American nationalism, and mass culture to fashion new identities in place of ethnic ones. It is also an important contribution to the growing literature on racial identity among European Americans. In tracing the fate of one of America's largest ethnic groups, "Becoming Old Stock" challenges historians to rethink the phenomenon of ethnic assimilation and to explore its complex relationship to American pluralism.

"This is a richly satisfying book. One puts it down feeling that everything relevant to the subject has been carefully looked into, judiciously considered, and set forth in a calm, clear, and illuminating manner... [The] book gives us much to think about and even more to admire."--Philip Gleason, American Historical Review "The book has tremendous merits for its sweeping arguments backed up by detailed documentation... [It] makes an invaluable contribution to our understanding of early twentieth century German-America, and it enhances our understanding of the relationship between ethnicity, whiteness, and national identity in urban America."--Christiane Harzig, Central European History

List of Illustrationsp. ix
List of Tablesp. xi
Acknowledgmentsp. xiii
Introductionp. 1
1900
German Philadelphia: A Social Portraitp. 17
Two Neighborhoodsp. 43
Confronting Assimilation, 1900-1914
The Gendered Crisis of the Vereinswesenp. 79
Destinations: The Ambiguous Lure of Mass Commercial and Consumer Culturep. 95
Destinations: Fractured Whiteness, "American" Identity, and the "Old Stock" Openingp. 109
Resisting Assimilation: Middle-Class and Working-Class Approachesp. 130
Storm, 1914-1919
European War and Ethnic Mobilizationp. 151
Intervention, the Anti-German Panic, and the Fall of Public Germannessp. 171
Reshaping Identities in the 1920s
An Ethnicity Subduedp. 197
Changing Neighborhoodsp. 213
Middle-Class Germans: American Identity and the "Stock" of "Our Forefathers"p. 232
Workers and Catholics: Toward the "White Ethnic"p. 246
Conclusion: Pluralism, Nationalism, Race, and the Fate of German Americap. 261
The Neighborhood Census Samplesp. 283
Notesp. 291
Indexp. 371
Table of Contents provided by Ingram. All Rights Reserved.

ISBN: 9780691050157
ISBN-10: 0691050155
Audience: Tertiary; University or College
Format: Hardcover
Language: English
Number Of Pages: 383
Published: 6th July 2004
Country of Publication: US
Dimensions (cm): 24.38 x 16.2  x 3.12
Weight (kg): 0.73