I had intended to attend a professional conference for applied anthropology in April to deliver this paper, but other obligations have made it impossible for me to attend. I am instead writing this paper to submit for publication, and it supports my research for the book project.
Lessons from Great Aunt Gusta: Accessing German-American Ethnic Identity Through the Diary of a Minnesota Pioneer’s Daughter.
Immigrants escaping Prussia and other German states were encouraged to settle in Minnesota Territory because of the climate and farming opportunities. German immigrants outnumbered every other immigrant ethnicity living in Minnesota in the 1860 census. Before the proliferation of anti-German sentiment surrounding World War I, German-American ethnic identity was evident in the German schools, churches, and German language newspapers. Yet, Minnesota today is primarily known for Scandinavian heritage. This paper examines intersections of ethnicity, age, and gender through examination of the 1874 diary of 15-year-old Augusta Mansfield. Gusta records mundane aspects of her life in St. Anthony Minnesota, including school, church, and shopping for dressmaking. These ordinary activities elucidate the realities of living adjacent to an industrial flour-milling district in the late 1800s in this alternative narrative on German-American ethnic identity.