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Heeren, D. (2023) Ethnic Heritage of the Families from East Friesland (Northwest Germany) who Migrated to the American Midwest. Genealogy Resources, University of Nebraska-Lincoln Digital Commons.


Copyright © 2023 Derek Heeren


America is a melting pot with people from all over the world. Learning the ethnic heritage of a people group helps us to appreciate how that group contributed to the lives we enjoy today. East Friesland (German: Ostfriesland; Low German: Oostfreesland) is a small geographic area, approximately 40 miles in length, in northwest Germany. In the nineteenth century, many families migrated from East Friesland to the Midwest region of the United States. This paper was written primarily for those studying family history who have ancestors from East Friesland. When going through genealogical records, it can be confusing to make sense of the historical names of towns, regions, and countries which are often quite different than contemporary place names. This paper provides a cursory sketch of the history from the ancient Germanic tribes to the people of East Friesland in the nineteenth century, along with the experience of East Frisians migrating to the American Midwest. It is a layman’s summary (not an academic document) highlighting key names, places, and events.