We missed you in New Orleans. Make plans now for 2014. The thirty-eighth annual symposium of the Society for German-American Studies will be held in Milwaukee from April 10th to 13th, 2014. As with New Orleans, the meeting will mark the first time the Society has met in the host city, and the first time in a long time that we’ve met in Wisconsin.
A block of rooms has already been reserved at the Hampton Inn Downtown. Mark your calendar. Additional details will appear here as they become available.
Annual Meeting and Symposium
Milwaukee’s first German settlers arrived in 1839, just four years after the region’s first public land sale. By 1860, they formed a majority of the city’s population, and Milwaukee became the most German large city west of Berlin. Although they lived in all sections of town, the immigrants’ particular stronghold was the area west of the Milwaukee River. North Third Street was their “downtown,” and some merchants reportedly put signs in their windows to reassure non-Germans that they could find “English Spoken Here.”
The German community’s key quality was its internal diversity. The newcomers ranged across a broad spectrum of economic, religious, and political backgrounds. Perhaps the most colorful sub-group was the Forty-Eighters, who had fled the homeland after a failed revolt against royal rule in 1848. Well-educated, idealistic, and decidedly liberal, the Forty-Eighters organized musical societies, arts and theater groups, Turner clubs, and other cultural institutions that made Milwaukee the “German Athens of America.”
The Germans maintained their distance from the dominant Yankees at first, but in time they exercised a dominance of their own in culture, politics, and industry. The roster of Milwaukee’s leading employers was filled with Teutonic names: Harnischfeger, Falk, and Heil in manufacturing; Pfister, Vogel, and Gallun in tanning; and Pabst, Schlitz, and Miller in brewing. It was the prevalence of German-owned breweries that made Milwaukee the “beer capital of the world.”
The wave of anti-German hysteria that crested during World War I nearly washed away the German cultural establishment, and the slow process of assimilation moved the community still further from its roots, but its Germanic heritage continues to shape Milwaukee’s character. In 2000, nearly thirty-eight percent of the population claimed at least some German ancestry—still the highest proportion in urban America.
SGAS Outstanding Achievement Award
The Society for German-American Studies has established an award which is given each year to an individual who has distinguished him- or herself in the field of German-American Studies. Honorees are celebrated each year at the Annual Meeting and Symposium.
The membership of the Society for German-American Studies is invited to nominate individuals of merit. Nominations should be directed to the chair of the Nominations Committee no later than September of the year prior to the one for which the individual is nominated. The Nominations Committee will forward all nominations to the president for review at the fall meeting of the Executive Committee. The Executive Committee will select the awardee.
Achievement in the context of the award is broadly defined. The honoree may have published significant research in the field, may have served the Society and the field of German-American Studies in an outstanding fashion, or may otherwise have made an outstanding contribution to the field.
Awardees will be encouraged to attend the annual symposium to receive the award. All awardees will be awarded a Life Membership in the Society for German-American Studies. The Society will cover the housing and registration expenses of those who participate in the annual symposium.
Nominations for the Outstanding Achievement Award should be forwarded to the chair of the Nominations Committee no later than September 1 of a given year for consideration for the following year. All nominations should include a letter which specifies the reasons why the nominator feels the award is justified as well as a short précis of the nominee’s accomplishments.
The current chair of the Nominations Committee is William Petig (firstname.lastname@example.org).