Missouri’s rich German-American heritage stretches back to early statehood, and the State Historical Society of Missouri has a long tradition of collecting and translating German-American manuscripts, publishing research on the topic, and helping support those interested in their Missouri German heritage.
In the early nineteenth century, Missouri played a central role in attracting Germans to the Midwest, perhaps most notably through Gottfried Duden’s widely read A Report on a Journey to the Western States of North America, which painted a romanticized picture of his time living on a Missouri farm in the 1820s. Beginning in that decade and continuing in larger numbers in the 1830s and 1840s, Germans from a variety of backgrounds settled in the state, particularly in St. Louis and the Missouri River valley. They came for many reasons, most often economic, but sometimes political. After a failed revolution across the yet to be unified German states in 1848, many political exiles immigrated to the United States, where some became prominent in politics and the press. By the start of the Civil War, Missouri had a substantial German immigrant population. Most Missouri Germans opposed slavery, and many played significant roles in the fight to keep Missouri in the Union during the war.
After the war, Missouri’s German American culture thrived. Missouri Germans held festivals, established beer gardens and breweries, performed in music clubs, built churches, and participated in politics. With the outbreak of World War I, however, German American heritage suddenly became a target of persecution. With the United States fighting Germany abroad, anti-German propaganda abounded at home. Many Missouri Germans participated in war bond drives or enlisted in the army as they strove to demonstrate their loyalty to the United States. During this time, many German American institutions such as newspapers and clubs went extinct or became dormant, and many German-language schools and churches switched to English.
Missouri’s German American culture proved resilient, however, with German American clubs and heritage organizations rebounding in the second half of the twentieth century. St. Louis, Hermann, Westphalia, and other historically German cities and towns retained and eventually celebrated their German heritage into the twenty-first century. The State Historical Society of Missouri’s collections document and preserve the contributions of German immigrants and their descendants to the state’s history.
- Anderson, Hattie M. “Missouri, 1804-1828: Peopling a Frontier State.”
Missouri Historical Review 31 (January 1937): 150-180.
- Bek, William "The Followers of Duden. Parts 1-18."
First Article: Missouri Historical Review 14 (October 1919): 29-73.
Second Article: Missouri Historical Review 14 (January 1920): 217-232.
Third Article: Missouri Historical Review 14 (April-July 1920): 436-458.
Fourth Article: Missouri Historical Review 15 (April 1921): 519-544.
Fifth Article: Missouri Historical Review 15 (July 1921): 660-699.
Sixth Article: Missouri Historical Review 16 (October 1921): 119-145.
Seventh Article: Missouri Historical Review 16 (January 1922): 289-307.
Eighth Article: Missouri Historical Review 16 (April 1922): 343-383.
Ninth Article: Missouri Historical Review 16 (July 1922): 522-550.
Tenth Article: Missouri Historical Review 17 (October 1922): 28-56.
Eleventh Article: Missouri Historical Review 17 (April 1923): 331-347.
Twelfth Article: Missouri Historical Review 17 (July 1923): 479-504.
Thirteenth Article: Missouri Historical Review 18 (October 1923): 36-54.
Fourteenth Article: Missouri Historical Review 18 (January 1924): 212-249.
Fifteenth Article: Missouri Historical Review 18 (April 1924): 415-437.
Sixteenth Article: Missouri Historical Review 18 (July 1924): 562-584.
Seventeenth Article: Missouri Historical Review 19 (October 1924): 114-129.
Eighteenth Article: Missouri Historical Review 19 (January 1925): 338-352.
- "From Bethel, Missouri, to Aurora, Oregon: Letters of William Keil, 1855-1870."
First Article: Missouri Historical Review 48 (October 1953): 23-41.
Second Article: Missouri Historical Review 48 (January 1954): 141-153.
"A German Communistic Society in Missouri"
First Article: Missouri Historical Review 3 (October 1908): 52-74.
Second Article: Missouri Historical Review 3 (January 1909), 99-125.
"Gottfried Duden's Report, 1824-1827."
First Article: Missouri Historical Review 12 (October 1917): 1-21.
Second Article: Missouri Historical Review 12 (January 1918): 81-89.
Third Article: Missouri Historical Review 12 (April 1918): 163-179.
Fourth Article: Missouri Historical Review 12 (July 1918): 258-270.
Fifth Article: Missouri Historical Review 13 (October 1918): 44-56.
Sixth Article: Missouri Historical Review 13 (January 1919): 157-181.
Seventh Article: Missouri Historical Review 13 (April 1919): 251-281.
“Nicholas Hesse, German Visitor to Missouri, 1835-1837.”
First Article: Missouri Historical Review 41 (October 1946): 19-44.
Second Article: Missouri Historical Review 41 (January 1947): 164-183.
Third Article: Missouri Historical Review 41 (April 1947): 285-304.
Fourth Article: Missouri Historical Review 41 (July 1947): 373-390.
Fifth Article: Missouri Historical Review 42 (October 1947): 34-49.
Sixth Article: Missouri Historical Review 42 (January 1948): 140-152.
Seventh Article: Missouri Historical Review 42 (April 1948): 241-248.
- Blum, Virgil C. "The Political and Military Activities of the German Element in St. Louis, 1859-1861."
Missouri Historical Review 42 (January 1948): 103-129.
- Bowen, Elbert R. "The German Theatre of Early Rural Missouri."
Missouri Historical Review 46 (January 1952): 157-161.
- Cortinovis, Irene E. "The Golden Age of German Song."
Missouri Historical Review 68 (July 1974): 437-442.
- David, John R. "Joseph K. Emmet as Fritz, Our Cousin German: The Stage Immigrant and the American Dream."
Missouri Historical Review 73 (January 1979): 198-217.
- DeWitt, Petra "Drifting Back into Their Old Ways': Local Efforts to Banish the German Language from Missouri During the Great War."
Missouri Historical Review 103 (April 2009): 161-187.
- Dunson, A. A. "Notes on the Missouri Germans on Slavery."
Missouri Historical Review 59 (April 1965): 355-366.
- Efford, Alison C. "Race Should be as Unimportant as Ancestry: German Radicals and African American Citizenship in the Missouri Constitution of 1865."
Missouri Historical Review 104 (April 2010): 138-158.
- Ehlmann, Steve. "'Imprudent Utterances': Loyalty, Liberty, and the Role Reversal for German Missourians from the Civil War to World War I."
Missouri Historical Review 111 (July 2017): 259-283.
- Forbes, Cleon "The St. Louis School of Thought."
First Article: Missouri Historical Review 25 (October 1930): 83-101.
Second Article: Missouri Historical Review 25 (January 1931): 289-305.
Third Article: Missouri Historical Review 25 (April 1931): 461-473.
Fourth Article: Missouri Historical Review 25 (July 1931): 609-622.
Fifth Article: Missouri Historical Review 26 (October 1931): 68-77.
- Frizzell, Robert W. "Marie Dierking Herd Neuhaus: Lafayette County German Farmwife and Proto-Feminist."
Missouri Historical Review 102 (October 2007): 1-9.
- Goodrich, James W. "Gottfried Duden: A Nineteenth-Century Missouri Promoter."
Missouri Historical Review 75 (January 1981): 131-146.
- Grant, H. Roger "Missouri's Utopian Communities."
Missouri Historical Review 66 (October 1971): 20-48.
- Greenway, Stephan "I Am Going to Find a New Fatherland: Nationalism and German Colonization Societies in the Frontier State of Missouri."
Missouri Historical Review 105 (October 2010): 31-47.
- Hale, Douglas Jr. "Friedrich Adolph Wislizenus: From Student Rebel to Southwestern Explorer."
Missouri Historical Review 62 (April 1968): 260-285.
- Heller, Otto "Charles Sealsfield, A Forgotten Discoverer of the Valley of the Mississippi."
Missouri Historical Review 31 (July 1937): 382-401.
- Heming, Carol Piper "Schulhaus to Schoolhouse: The German School at Hermann, Missouri, 1839-1955."
Missouri Historical Review 82 (April 1988): 280-298.
- Hess, Earl J. "Osterhaus in Missouri: A Study in German-American Loyalty."
Missouri Historical Review 78 (January 1984): 144-167.
- Kamphoefner, Walter D. "Uprooted or Transplanted?: Reflections on Patterns of German Immigration to Missouri."
Missouri Historical Review 103 (January 2009): 71-89.
- Kliman, Todd "The Ignoble Grape: The Rise, Fall, and Rise Again of the Outsider Norton."
Missouri Historical Review 109 (January 2015): 93-107.
- Krause, Bonnie J. "German Americans in the St. Louis Region, 1840-1860."
Missouri Historical Review 83 (April 1989): 295-310.
- Kupsky, Gregory "We, Too, Are Still Here: German Americans in St. Louis, 1919-1941."
Missouri Historical Review 103 (July 2009): 212-225.
- Muehl, Siegmar "Hermann's "Free Men": 1850s German-American Religious Rationalism."
Missouri Historical Review 85 (July 1991): 361-380.
"Winegrowing in the Hermann Area: Early Years' Chronicle."
Missouri Historical Review 87 (April 1993): 233-252.
- Olson, Sister Audrey "The Nature of an Immigrant Community: St. Louis Germans, 1850-1920."
Missouri Historical Review 66 (April 1972): 342-359.
- Pentlin, Susan Lee "The Study of German at the Warrensburg Normal School."
Missouri Historical Review 83 (July 1989): 395-416.
- Pickle, Linda "A German Immigrant in Postbellum Fulton."
Missouri Historical Review 86 (January 1992): 149-163.
"Stereotypes and Reality: Nineteenth-Century German Women in Missouri."
Missouri Historical Review 79 (April 1985): 291-312.
- Richardson, Chris "With Liberty and Justice for All?: The Suppression of the German-American Culture During World War I."
Missouri Historical Review 90 (October 1995): 79-89.
- Robberts, Louise Buenger "Lutheran Families in St. Louis and Perry County, Missouri, 1839-1870."
Missouri Historical Review 82 (July 1988): 424-438.
- Shoemaker, Floyd C. "Hermann: A Bit of the Old World in the Heart of the New."
Missouri Historical Review 51 (April 1957): 235-244.
- Squires, Monas N. "Merry-Making in the Old Days."
Missouri Historical Review 28 (January 1934): 91-102.
- Stevens, Linda Walker "The Making of a Superior Immigrant: George Husmann, 1837-1854."
Missouri Historical Review 89 (January 1995): 119-138.
- Tolzmann, Don Heinrich "The St. Louis Free Congregation Library: A Study of German-American Reading Interests."
Missouri Historical Review 70 (January 1976): 142-161.
- Trautmann, Frederic "Missouri through a German's Eyes: Franz Von Löher on St. Louis and Hermann."
Missouri Historical Review 77 (July 1983): 367-694.
- Zimmermann, Eduard "Travel into Missouri in October, 1838."
Missouri Historical Review 9 (October 1914).
Many of the State Historical Society’s holdings are included in Merlin, the shared library catalog of the four University of Missouri campuses. The State Historical Society holds numerous books on the history of German Americans in Missouri, the Midwest, and the United States generally. The broadest term to search for German Americans is the subject term “German*.” For a more specific search on Germans in Missouri, simply add the subject term “Missouri” to your search.
- Adolphus Busch (1839-1913) - Adolphus Busch was a German immigrant who was instrumental in building the Anheuser-Busch Brewing Association in St. Louis, Missouri, into the largest brewery in the United States. He is recognized as one of the most successful businessmen of his era, and is memorable for both his extravagant spending habits and his charitable giving.
- Carl Schurz (1829-1906) - Carl Schurz was a Union general in the Civil War, a secretary of the interior, and a US senator. He was born on March 2, 1829, in Liblar (now Erftstadt), a village near Germany’s western border.
- Franz Sigel (1824-1902) - Franz Sigel was a Union general in the Civil War. He was born on November 18, 1824, in Sinsheim, a small community in southwest Germany. Franz received an excellent education at the Classical School in Bruchsal and the military academy at Karlsruhe. He served as a lieutenant in the Baden army from 1843 to 1847, but resigned after killing another officer in duel.
- Casey Stengel (1890-1975) - Casey Stengel was born on July 30, 1890, in Kansas City, Missouri, the youngest child of German immigrant Louis Stengel. Stengel was a twentieth-century professional baseball player and manager who is best known for managing the New York Yankees to ten American League pennants and seven World Series championships from 1949 to 1960. Today he is recognized as one of baseball’s greatest managers.
The State Historical Society of Missouri manuscript collections include personal papers, organizational records, and other materials related to German immigration, and social life and customs, religious practices, family experiences, and other aspects of life in German American communities in Missouri.
The German language press played an important role in Missouri’s German American communities. The German newspapers in Missouri’s cities and towns helped Missouri German Americans maintain their cultural and linguistic identity. The papers reported on issues of local and national interest, as well as providing opportunities for German American businesses to advertise to their constituents.
German language newspapers from seventeen towns or cities are represented in the State Historical Society’s newspaper collection. One of the state's early German–language newspapers, the Licht–Freund, a philosophical journal advocating the abolition of slavery, began publication in Hermann in 1840. The State Historical Society of Missouri has digitized its holdings of this paper dating from August 23, 1842, through May 21, 1845.
Several of the German–language newspapers were religious in nature, with Lutheran and Catholic publications predominating. Der Lutheraner began publication on September 1, 1844; the Herald Des Glaubens, a Catholic paper is available as early as October 16, 1889. Both papers were published in St. Louis. Other German–language newspapers were published in Boonville, Brinktown, Clayton, Higginsville, Jackson, Jefferson City, Kansas City, Lexington, Marthasville, St. Charles, Ste. Genevieve, St. Joseph, Sedalia, Vienna and Washington.
For a list of newspapers on microfilm at The State Historical Society of Missouri, visit the newspaper catalog.
|County||City||Title||Also Available On||Date Range|
|Buchanan||St. Joseph||Volksblatt||Microfilm||February 6, 1906; 1920-1932 part of Kansas City Press|
|Buchanan||St. Joseph||Das Westliche Volksblatt||Microfilm||September 9, 1876|
|Cape Girardeau||Cape Girardeau||Westliche Presse||Microfilm||May 27, 1876|
|Cape Girardeau||Jackson||Deutscher Volksfreund||Microfilm||1886-1918|
|Cole||Jefferson City||Der Fortschritt||Microfilm||1868-1876|
|Cole||Jefferson City||Missouri Staats Zeitung||Microfilm||1879-1883|
|Cole||Jefferson City||Missouri Volksfreund||Microfilm||1876-1925|
|Cole||Jefferson City||Jefferson City Post||Microfilm||1895-1905|
|Franklin||Washington||Die Washingtoner Post||Microfilm||1870-1895|
|Gasconade||Hermann||Die Gasconade Zeitung||Microfilm||1873-1874|
|Gasconade||Hermann||Hermanner Volksblatt Gasconade Zeitung||Microfilm||1872-1873|
|Jackson||Kansas City||Missouri Post||Microfilm||1859-1860|
|Jackson||Kansas City||Missouri Staats-Zeitung||Microfilm||1898-1917|
|Jackson||Kansas City||Neue Kansas Staats-Zeitung||Microfilm||1914-1918|
|Jackson||Kansas City||Kansas City Presse||Microfilm||1898-1920|
|Jackson||Kansas City||Kansas City Presse and St. Joseph Volksblatt||Microfilm||1920-1932|
|Lafayette||Lexington||Missouri Thalbote||Microfilm||Sep 2, 1876|
|Maries||Vienna||Der Wegweiser ( Supplement to the Vienna, Home Advisor)||Microfilm||1905-1907|
|Osage||Westphalia||Osage County Volksblatt||Microfilm||1899-1917|
|St. Charles||St. Charles||Der St. Charles Demokrat||Microfilm||1852-1916|
|St. Charles||St. Charles||Republikaner||Microfilm||1884-1901|
|St. Louis||Abend AnzeigerK||Microfilm||1901-1909|
|St. Louis||Amerika (Catholic)||Microfilm||1874-1922|
|St. Louis||Anzeiger des Westens||Microfilm||1835-1881|
|St. Louis||Anzeiger des Westens Sonntagsblatt||Microfilm||1881-1898|
|St. Louis||Anzeiger des Westens Wochenblatt||Microfilm||1853-1898|
|St. Louis||Brauer-Zeitung||Microfilm||July 27, 1895|
|St. Louis||Die Deutsche Tribuene||Microfilm||1844-1852|
|St. Louis||Deutsche WochenSchrift||Microfilm||1969-1982|
|St. Louis||Herald des Glaubens (Catholic)||Microfilm||1876-1899|
|St. Louis||Der Lutheraner (Lutheran)||Microfilm||1844-1911|
|St. Louis||Der Missionar||Microfilm||1882-1883|
|St. Louis||St. Louis Sulamith (Jewish)||Microfilm||1880-1881|
|St. Louis||St. Louis Tribune||Microfilm||1880-1898|
|St. Louis||Volksstimme Des Westens||Microfilm||1877-1880|
|St. Louis||Die Wahrheit||Microfilm||1871|
|St. Louis||Westliche Blätter||Microfilm||1862-1864|
|St. Louis||Westliche Post||Microfilm||1858-1876, 1914-1920|
|St. Louis||Wochenblat der Amerika||Microfilm||1874-1886|
|St. Louis||Sonntagsblatt der Amerika||Microfilm||1872-1886|
|St. Louis||Wöchentlicher Anzeiger des Westens||Microfilm||1857-1863|
|St. Louis||Clayton||St. Louis County Wachter||Microfilm||1903|
|Ste. Genevieve||Ste. Genevieve||Freie Presse||Microfilm||July 22, 1876|
|Ste. Genevieve||Ste. Genevieve||Herold||Microfilm||1882-1895|
|Warren||Warrenton||Die Union||Microfilm||Aug 31, 1876|
The photographs below are from Mit Feder und Hammer! (With Feather and Hammer): The German Experience in St. Louis. These photographs were a part of an exhibit held in St. Louis in 1983, and in the Federal Republic of Germany (West Germany) from 1984 to 1989. The collection was donated to the State Historical Society of Missouri Research Center-St. Louis by Dr. Stephen Rowan on December 7, 1983. The full collection contains mounted photographs, duplicate photographs, 4x5 negatives, thirty-five millimeter negatives, one 3.5 micro floppy disk and historical background information about the images in the Mit Feder und Hammer exposition. This collection provides a visual record of the development of the German American community in St. Louis from 1830 to 1983. The collection is available at The State Historical Society of Missouri. If you would like more information, please contact us at email@example.com.
See the entire digital photograph collection here.
The vertical files contain magazine and newspaper clippings, handwritten information donated by patrons, bibliographies, programs, brochures, flyers, and other materials that, by reason of their physical formats, cannot be placed on the shelves with books. SHSMO's Columbia Research Center has a vertical file titled “Germans in Missouri,” as well as vertical files on numerous German American Missourians.