Date of Award


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy



First Advisor

Dr. Ross Gregory

Second Advisor

Dr. Donald Fixico

Third Advisor

Dr. John Houdek

Fourth Advisor

Dr. Manfred Berg


The purpose of this dissertation is to tell the story of the National German- American Alliance, an organization of middle to upper-middle class well-educated professionals formed in 1901 to promote and preserve aspects of German culture in the United States. Increasingly, however, it found itself drawn into controversial political and diplomatic issues in the rapid political, social and international change that marked the first two decades of the twentieth century.

The dissertation begins with a review of German-America from colonial times to 1899 and serves as a background for the founding of the Alliance within the context of the growth of the German-American community. From its founding in 1901 to 1905 the Alliance concerned itself primarily with the preservation of German culture. By 1906, however, the group expanded its agenda to include the delicate issues of prohibition of alcohol and foreign affairs, while simultaneously attempting to gamer the support of other major ethnic organizations. Additional forays into the questions of woman suffrage and immigration restriction, by 1911 transformed the Alliance from a group concerned primarily with the preservation of German culture to one that attempted to exercise influence on a wide range of national and international issues. With the outbreak of World War One in Europe the organization came out in favor of absolute American neutrality and fair-play for Germany—the later an unenviable position in a nation that increasingly came to sympathize with the Allied cause. American entry into the conflict against Germany in 1917, coupled with the subsequent anti-German hysteria, led to the rapid decline and eventual end of the Alliance in 1918.

The seventeen year history of the Alliance serves as an example of the problems faced by ethnic organizations which seek to preserve their cultural heritage in the volatile environment that can be American democracy. Little, however, has been written on the Alliance. What exists has focused on either activities of the state chapters or the work of the national organization during World War One. This study represents the first attempt to chronicle and critically analyze the history of the organization.

Access Setting

Dissertation-Open Access