Entries

Gebelein, George
A first-generation immigrant, George Gebelein earned acclaim for the superb quality of his handcrafted silver products, finding success as a craftsman in an era when mass-produced goods had replaced handcrafted products. Continue Reading »
Gemünder, August
SEE Gemünder, George»
Gemünder, George
August and George Gemünder pioneered high-quality violin making and trading in the United States and were responsible for establishing violin making as a respected craft in the U.S. and also for facilitating the flow of classical violins into the country. Continue Reading »
Genthe, Arnold
In 1895, Arnold Genthe accepted an offer to work as a tutor for an affluent German-American family in San Francisco. In between tutoring responsibilities, he taught himself photography and began publishing some of his photographs in local magazines. By 1901, he had already become one of the most sought-after portrait photographers on the West Coast. His award-winning photographic landscapes and pictures would soon bring both domestic and international recognition. Continue Reading »
German Component to American Industrialization
The era from 1840 to 1893 was a momentous one both for German-American immigration and for U.S. industrialization, so it bears examining to what extent the two developments were interrelated. This essay will first sketch out the contours of German immigration and American industrialization in this era. It then identifies areas of the U.S. economy where Germans were particularly concentrated, and examines the industrial and geographic niches where transatlantic connections were of greatest consequence. Shifting focus from global to individual patterns, it then explores what was German and what was American about German-American entrepreneurship in the mid- and late nineteenth century. Continue Reading »
German Corporate Entrepreneurs in Nineteenth Century America
Many of the Germans who came to the United States in the nineteenth century were entrepreneurs, some in the more mundane sense of owning their own businesses, others in the more exciting sense of being innovators within various business sectors. Germans also appear to have been more likely to engage in entrepreneurial activities on a scale large enough to require the formation of corporations. That hypothesis stems from the analysis of a database of the names of several hundred thousand incorporators, people (mostly men) who helped for-profit businesses to receive special charters granted by state legislatures across the United States between 1790 and 1861. Continue Reading »
German Immigrants and J. P. Morgan’s Securities Underwriting Syndicates
The Immigrant Entrepreneurship project offers a transnational perspective on American history. Transaction records from the J. P. Morgan & Co. Syndicate Books help us understand how a transnational society of bankers networked funds around the world by forming syndicates to support the globalization process. Syndicate participation provided a way for many German immigrants and German-Americans to attain both economic success and social status in America. Continue Reading »
German Immigrants in the United States Brewing Industry
Immigrant groups in the United States sometimes find an economic niche that allows them to become dominant in a particular business, or, at the very least, to become associated with that niche in the public mind. For the German-American community before nationwide Prohibition (1920–1933), domination of the American brewing industry was both a cliché and a reality. Continue Reading »
German Jews and Peddling in America
Peddling helped launch the Jewish migration out of Germany and its predecessor states. The knowledge that thousands of young single men could come to America and get on the road, laden with a jumble of goods on their backs, and reasonably hope to end up a married proprietor of a thriving business, propelled them. The fact that they could fulfill the aims of their migration, settle down, and succeed in business, also helped change the face of the Jewish world for decades to come. Continue Reading »
German Social Entrepreneurs and the First Kindergartens in Nineteenth Century America
Two German women, Caroline Louisa Frankenberg and Margarethe Meyer Schurz, are credited with bringing the kindergarten movement to the nineteenth-century United States by opening kindergartens that served children of German immigrants. They conducted classes in the German language and were social entrepreneurs in that they made an innovative, long-term, social impact on the American educational system. Their primary interest was not personal financial gain, but rather the humanistic, social, and educational development of children. As word spread of their efforts, Anglo-American educators took note and grew the movement, establishing English-language kindergartens and kindergarten training schools for teachers. The creation of kindergartens fundamentally changed how Americans thought about the ideal environment for beginning a child’s education. Continue Reading »
German-Americans during World War I
World War I had a devastating effect on German-Americans and their cultural heritage. Up until that point, German-Americans, as a group, had been spared much of the discrimination, abuse, rejection, and collective mistrust experienced by so many different racial and ethnic groups in the history of the United States. Indeed, over the years, they had been viewed as a well-integrated and esteemed part of American society. All of this changed with the outbreak of war. Continue Reading »
Goelitz, Gustav
Jelly Belly traces its roots to the entrepreneurial efforts of Gustav Goelitz, who came to the United States in 1866 and with his younger brothers, Albert and George, built a successful confectionery business, Gustav Goelitz Candy, in Belleville, Illinois, and later Goelitz Brothers' Candy in St. Louis, Missouri. Continue Reading »
Goldman, Henry
Today, second generation German-Jewish immigrant Henry Goldman is primarily remembered for his role as an early partner in Goldman Sachs, the international investment bank that still bears his family’s name. His accomplishments stretched well beyond his own firm, however. In addition to revolutionizing Goldman Sachs, he helped change the American economy by shifting investment banking away from railroads and heavy industry and toward mass-retail establishments. He also pioneered an approach to capital valuation that focused not on physical assets, but on future earnings. Continue Reading »
Goldman, Marcus
Marcus Goldman immigrated to the United States in 1848. After twenty-one years working as an itinerant peddler and a shopkeeper, he carved out a niche for himself in commercial promissory notes forming what would eventually become Goldman, Sachs & Co. Continue Reading »
Gratz, Bernard
SEE Gratz, Michael»
Gratz, Michael
Brothers Barnard Gratz and Michael Gratz were merchants and land speculators from the Prussian occupied territory of Silesia whose commercial enterprises connected Philadelphia to port cities in other continental American colonies, the Caribbean, and Europe, and to the North American frontier. Continue Reading »
Griesedieck, Joseph
Joseph Griesedieck was one of the most influential brewers in St. Louis in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. From the 1880s to the 1910s, he helped run several city breweries. At the outset of Prohibition, he acquired the Falstaff label and built the Falstaff Corporation around it. While many other brewers failed during Prohibition, Griesedieck kept his company afloat by selling “near beer,” soft drinks, carbonated water, and pork products. After the repeal of Prohibition, he obtained the first federal permit to begin brewing beer legally again. Within five years, the Falstaff Brewing Corporation was operating four plants in three states and had gained a national market. Continue Reading »
Grohmann, Eckhart
Eckhart Grohmann does not fit the all-too-familiar narrative of the old world European immigrant peasant turned captain of industry that permeates much of the American popular memory. Grohmann was already a member of the entrepreneurial class in Germany. After immigrating to the United States, he acquired his own company, Aluminum Casting and Engineering Co., a small Milwaukee foundry that he expanded into a major firm. Continue Reading »
Gruen, Dietrich
After learning the watchmaking trade in the Black Forest region, Dietrich Gruen immigrated to the United States, where he eventually patented an improved center pinion for watches. This innovation became the foundation of Gruen’s business ventures, which included the Gruen Watch Company, a leading watch manufacturing firm that operated for half a century. Continue Reading »
Guenther, Carl Hilmar
Carl Hilmar Guenther established a mill on the Texas frontier in 1851 that grew into one of the largest food processing companies in the nation, producing well-known flour brands such as Pioneer and White Wings, home baking products under the Morrison Mills name, and Sun-Bird and Williams prepared foods. Guenther originally came to America in 1848, seeking greater political freedom and hoping for economic opportunity. Continue Reading »