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Swiss American

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Swiss American

Swiss American

Total population


0.3% of the U.S. population
Regions with significant populations
American English, German (especially Swiss German), French, Italian, Romansch
various Christian denominations, including Roman Catholic, United Church of Christ, Reformed Church in the United States
Related ethnic groups
Swiss people, Swiss Brazilian, Swiss Chilean, German Americans, German diaspora

Swiss Americans are Americans of Swiss descent, including those whose ancestors spoke Swiss German, Swiss French, Swiss Italian, and Romansh.


Swiss emigrants to the USA totaled 104,000 according to the 1890 census.

The first Swiss person in what is now known as the territory of the United States was Theobald (Diebold) von Erlach (1541–1565).[2] The history of the Amish church began with a schism in Switzerland within a group of Swiss and Alsatian Anabaptists in 1693 led by Jakob Ammann, a native of Erlenbach im Simmental.

The late 18th and early 19th century saw a flow of Swiss farmers forming colonies especially in Russia and in the United States.

Before the year 1820 some estimated 25,000 to 30,000 Swiss entered British North America. Most of them settled in regions of today's Pennsylvania as well as North and South Carolina. In the next years until 1860 about as many Swiss arrived, making their homes mainly in the Midwestern states such as Ohio, Indiana, Illinois and Wisconsin. 50,000 came between 1860 and 1880, some 82,000 between 1881 and 1890, and estimated 90,000 more during the next three decades.

In spite of Swiss settlements like Highland (Illinois), New Glarus (Wisconsin), Gruetli (Tennessee) and Bernstadt (Kentucky) were emerging fast, most Swiss preferred rural villages of the Midwest and the Pacific Coast where especially the Italian Swiss were taking part in California's winegrowing culture, or then took up residence in more industrial and urban regions such as New York, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Chicago, St. Louis or San Francisco. As the lifestyle and political institutions of the United States were compliant with those of their homeland most Swiss had no problems starting a new life in their part of the New World and became attached to both countries.[3]

Along with the Swiss Immigrants came their traditions. By the late 1800s sufficient numbers of Swiss had arrived that Swiss Vereins (Clubs) were established to provide camaraderie and sharing of customs and traditions of the Heimat (Homeland). The William Tell Verein of Oakland and the Sacramento Helvetia Verein founded in the 1890s were examples of clubs formed during this period. Much later, the West Coast Swiss Wrestling Association was established to preserve the Swiss tradition of Schwingen (Swiss wrestling) on the Pacific coast of the United States.

Swiss immigration diminished after 1930 because of the Great Depression and World War II. 23,700 Swiss arrived until 1960, 29,100 more between 1961 and 1990. Many of them being professionals or employees in American branches of Swiss companies, returned after some time to Switzerland.[4]


Distribution of Swiss Americans according to the 2000 Census

Swiss Americans by numbers

According to the 2000 United States Census,[5] the 15 cities with the largest populations of Swiss Americans are as follows:

  1. New York, New York - 8,108
  2. Los Angeles, California - 6,169
  3. San Diego, California - 4,349
  4. Portland, Oregon - 4,102
  5. Madison, Wisconsin - 3,898
  6. Phoenix, Arizona - 3,460
  7. Seattle, Washington - 3,446
  8. San Francisco, California - 3,381
  9. Chicago, Illinois - 3,008
  10. San Jose, California - 2,661
  11. Columbus, Ohio - 2,640
  12. Monroe, Wisconsin - 2,582
  13. Houston, Texas - 2,226
  14. Dallas, Texas-1,865
  15. Salt Lake City, Utah - 2,105
  16. Indianapolis, Indiana - 1,939

According to the 2007 American Community Survey,[6] the states with the largest populations of Swiss Americans are as follows:

  1. California - 117,700
  2. Ohio - 86,147[7]
  3. Pennsylvania - 73,912
  4. Wisconsin - 61,134
  5. Illinois - 42,194
  6. Indiana - 41,540
  7. New York - 40,113
  8. Florida - 39,001
  9. Texas - 37,258
  10. Washington - 36,697
  11. Oregon - 33,234
  12. Utah - 30,606
  13. Missouri - 25,809
  14. Michigan - 25,533
  15. Arizona - 24,485

Swiss Americans by percentage of total population

According to the 2000 United States Census[5] the highest percentage of Swiss Americans in any town, village or other, are the following:

  1. Berne, Indiana - 29.10%
  2. Monticello, Wisconsin - 28.82%
  3. New Glarus, Wisconsin - 28.26%
  4. Monroe, Wisconsin - 18.91%
  5. Pandora, Ohio - 18.90%
  6. Argyle, Wisconsin - 17.84%
  7. Sugarcreek, Ohio - 17.29%
  8. Elgin, Iowa - 15.79%
  9. Monroe, Indiana - 14.35%
  10. Baltic, Ohio - 12.91%
  11. Brickerville, Pennsylvania - 11.52%
  12. Albany, Wisconsin - 11.51%
  13. Belleville, Wisconsin - 11.25%
  14. Blanchardville, Wisconsin - 11.21%
  15. Shipshewana, Indiana - 10.89%

only cities, towns and villages with at least 500 people included

According to the 2000 United States Census[5] the states with the highest percentage of people of Swiss ancestry are the following:

  1. Utah - 1.28%
  2. Wisconsin - 0.91%
  3. Idaho - 0.87%
  4. Oregon - 0.76%
  5. Indiana - 0.64%

Communities settled by Swiss immigrants

Notable Swiss Americans

Swiss American historical societies

See also


  1. ^ 2008 Community Survey
  2. ^ "Swiss Americans"
  3. ^ [1] "History of Swiss Settlers"
  4. ^ [2] "immigration since 1930"
  5. ^ a b c
  6. ^ [3] "2007 American Community Survey by State"
  7. ^
  8. ^ "John A. Sutter Jr. Founder and Planner of City of Sacramento ... Was born in Switzerland, October 25, 1826. He was the son of John A. Sutter..."
  9. ^ Bouquet and Pennsylvania "Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission"
  10. ^ "An American of 10 Generations". New York Times. 1907-05-12. 
  11. ^ a b Swiss Roots: Renee Zellweger
  12. ^ Swiss Roots: Herbert Hoover
  13. ^ Swiss Roots: Jewel Kilcher
  14. ^ [4] "His father had mainly Swiss and British roots."
  15. ^ "...and my mother is Swiss and Swede."
  16. ^ [5] "Swiss Roots: How much do you know about your Swiss heritage? Ben Roethlisberger: Honestly, I didn't know a whole lot until recently; then I started feeling it out a little more and hearing a little more about it. Now, when people ask me where I'm from, I'm quick to say, "Well, I'm Swiss." I'm sure I have a lot of things in me, but that's one of the things I tell people—that I'm Swiss."
  17. ^ Held vom Hudson" stammt aus Wynigen""" (in German).  
  18. ^ [6] "Born Willi Wyler ... to a Swiss father and a German mother"
  19. ^
  20. ^
  21. ^
  22. ^
  23. ^
  24. ^
  25. ^
  26. ^

External links

  • Swiss Americans
  • Swiss American Historical Society
  • San Joaquin Valley Swiss Club (California, USA)

Articles about the Swiss in the United States

Research links

  • Keith Zollinger Collection of Swiss Manuscripts Brigham Young University-Idaho Special Collections at the David O. McKay Library.
  • The Archives of Le Temps Archival collection of every Journal de Geneve, Gazette de Lausanne and Nouveau Quotidien.
  • The Swiss American Historical Society Records 1927-1985, including correspondence, reports, minutes and other materials, are available for research use at the Historical Society of Pennsylvania.
  • Swiss Colonies in Tennessee and Kentucky Collection, 1830-1938 University of Tennessee Special Collections Library, Knoxville, TN.
  • Swiss Posters Collection The Swiss Poster Collection at Carnegie Mellon University.
  • Swiss Benevolent Society of Chicago Housed at the University of Illinois at Chicago in the Richard J. Daley Library's Special Collections Department.
  • Swiss Society of New Orleans records, 1855-2010 Housed at Tulane University as part of the Louisiana Research Collection, at the Howard-Tilton Memorial Library.
  • Swiss Singing Society of Chicago Housed at the University of Illinois at Chicago in the Richard J. Daley Library's Special Collections Department.
  • Swiss Prints Collection Graphic Arts Collection in the Department of Rare Books and Special Collections at Princeton University Library.
  • Holden Rightmyer/American Swiss Company Papers 1933-1946 The Ward M. Canaday Center for Special Collections at The University of Toledo.
  • Richard Bird missionary notebook from the Swiss/Austrian mission Housed at the Harold B. Lee Library at Brigham Young University.
  • Swiss and German Mission of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints Housed at the Harold B. Lee Library at Brigham Young University.
  • Walter Kiener, Papers Housed in the Archives & Special Collections at the University of Nebraska–Lincoln Libraries.
  • Bluntschli (Johann Casper) 1808-1881 Collection 1750-1884 Housed at the Special Collections of the Milton S. Eisenhower Library at The Johns Hopkins University.
  • Eddie Rickenbacker Papers Housed at Auburn University Special Collections and Archives.
  • The Papers of J. Warren White Housed at the Patricia W. and J. Douglas Perry Library, Old Dominion University.
  • Herbert Matter Papers Housed in Special Collections Green Library Stanford University.
  • The Rièse collection Housed at The Victoria University Library of the University of Toronto.
  • Swiss imprints in French Housed in University of Cambridge.
  • The John Lyman Ballif Papers Housed at the J. Willard Marriott Library, University of Utah.
  • Diplomatic Documents of Switzerland
  • Robert Billigmeier Collection Hosted by University of California, Santa Barbara.
  • Hoehn and Müller families papers, 1828-1980s Housed at Tulane University as part of the Louisiana Research Collection, at the Howard-Tilton Memorial Library.
  • German and Swiss Colonization in Morgan County, Tennessee, 1925 Housed at University of Tennessee Libraries, Knoxville, Special Collections.
  • Mennonite Historical Collections Very extensive Collection of Swiss and Swiss-American Mennonite information hosted in the Archives and Special Collections Librarian at Musselman Library, Bluffton University.
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