Pennsylvania Germans in the Lehigh Valley
The Pennsylvania Germans or Pennsylvania Dutch (the names are interchangeable) are people who immigrated to Pennsylvania from the German (“Deutsch”) states by the early 1800s. The term also refers to descendents of these early immigrants. The first Germanic immigrants arrived in Pennsylvania in 1683. They came for religious reasons and settled Germantown, near Philadelphia. The Germanic immigrants who settled the Lehigh Valley arrived in the 1700s. For them, the move to Pennsylvania was a search for a better life as they escaped gradually deteriorating conditions and fewer opportunities back home.
Like other immigrant groups, they experienced prejudice and struggled to become American while retaining some of their most precious traditions. In early Pennsylvania, they began to form an ethnic identity distinguished by their language, food, architecture, religion, folk art, and many other customs. It is a culture that enhanced American popular culture, bringing customs such as the Christmas Tree, the Easter Rabbit, and decorating Easter Eggs for children.
Pennsylvania Germans have enriched American life through their culture and their achievements. Pennsylvania Germans have served America in times of war and times of peace. They could be found in all walks of life, making important contributions in agriculture, industry, politics, and the arts. Their enduring legacy is a vital part of the history of the Lehigh Valley and America.
Pennsylvania Germans are known for their love of color and designs. Their artistic designs can be found on objects as varied as clocks and furniture, fraktur, samplers, quilts, pottery, butter prints, barn hex signs, and more.