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Becoming Old Stock: The Paradox of German-American Identity / Edition 1

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Overview

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.

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Editorial Reviews

American Historical Review
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
Central European History
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
American Historical Review - Philip Gleason
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.
Central European History - Christiane Harzig
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.
From the Publisher

"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

American Historical Review

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
Central European History

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
Read More Show Less

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780691050157
  • Publisher: Princeton University Press
  • Publication date: 7/6/2004
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 390
  • Product dimensions: 6.20 (w) x 9.30 (h) x 1.30 (d)

Meet the Author

Russell A. Kazal is Assistant Professor of History at Arcadia University.
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Table of Contents


List of Illustrations ix
List of Tables xi
Acknowledgments xiii
Introduction 1
Part One: 1900
Chapter One
German Philadelphia: A Social Portrait 17
Chapter Two
Two Neighborhoods 43
Part Two: Confronting Assimilation, 1900-1914
Chapter Three
The Gendered Crisis of the Vereinswesen 79
Chapter Four
Destinations: The Ambiguous Lure of Mass Commercial and Consumer Culture 95
Chapter Five
Destinations: Fractured Whiteness, "American" Identity, and the "Old Stock" Opening 109
Chapter Six
Resisting Assimilation: Middle-Class and Working-Class Approaches 130
Part Three: Storm, 1914-1919
Chapter Seven
European War and Ethnic Mobilization 151
Chapter Eight
Intervention, the Anti-German Panic, and the Fall of Public Germanness 171
Part Four: Reshaping Identities in the 1920s Chapter Nine An Ethnicity Subdued 197
Chapter Ten
Changing Neighborhoods 213
Chapter Eleven
Middle-Class Germans: American Identity and the "Stock" of "Our Forefathers" 232
Chapter Twelve
Workers and Catholics: Toward the "White Ethnic" 246
Conclusion Pluralism, Nationalism, Race, and the Fate of German America 261
Appendix The Neighborhood Census Samples 283
Notes 291
Index 371
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Recipe

"This is a scholarly work par excellence. Prodigiously researched, cogently argued and extremely well written, the book is a richly detailed case study of the shifts in German-American identity in Philadelphia during the early 20th century. A tour de force."—Marilyn Halter, Boston University

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