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AfriGeneas World Research Forum

Re: The Afro German Experience/History question

response to:L.Song

Your question is general and provides few details. What do you mean by "Germans of African descent...?" The domestic and colonial constructs adopted, towards African Peoples and the Diaspora, throughout the history of Germany until the end of WWII were that of an "inferior or untermenschen". It was a term adapted by Germans from the writings of American Harvard graduate Lothrop Stoddard (1883-1950) active in the international eugenics movement.

Systematic German heritage settlement began with the Dutch West India Company bringing slaves, captured in Africa, and indentured servants to New Netherland, now New York, in the 1600's. This created the basis for an African population because those who colonized the United States needed labour to build an infrastructure. The fact that a significant African population existed is supported by the African Burial Ground Project (1991) Duane Street, lower Manhattan. It is now a Historic National Monument maintained by the National Parks Service. The grounds are the resting place and remains of people from Africa used as forced labour by Europeans from the 17th to 18th. C. and later.

During the date you mentioned (1800's) Germans migrated to the United States for different reasons: religious, political and economic. Many who could not afford passage became indentured servants. It was not uncommon, amongst all European nationalities, to work in the service of others until obligation(s) were cleared. Those who did not bring families came as single German males. During the course of settlement they may have married Native-Americans or slaves.

In the early history of Caribbean colonization German males preferred African women because demands were not considerd as great. During the active colonization of Africa German males married African women because there were few German or European women in the African colonies as was the case in the Caribbean. German colonization societies and publications made efforts to encourage more German women to come to Africa. German men in the colonies who married African women were subject to penalties and censure from the local community and Germany.

To further the research of your German heritage you will need to locate both the specific state(s) in the United States and area of Thurlingen (Central Germany) where he lived and was born. You will also need dates so that your search will eventually be successful.

May I suggest that you do this by searching: Cyndi's list on the Internet and similar services, ships records of those coming from Thurlingen to the United States. If he did not enter Ellis Island seek other ports of US entry from Europe to the United States. Look amongst census records of the particular state where your great-grandather lived. What was his religious preference? Various Faith groups, associated with Germany, can provide valuable leads. Once you find a particular state associated with your great-grandfather you might search court records to see if he may have declared a Declaration of Intention to Petition for Naturalization. There will be useful information on the document that will provide clues for your search.

It is hoped that you realize you aim to gain satisfactory information about your great-grandfather's German heritage.

Thank you for the opportunity to comment.

Dr.I.M. Spence-Lewis


18 Dec 2002 :: 14 Nov 2008
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