Pennsylvania Dutch - Pennsylvania Germans

The immigrants who arrived in Pennsylvania starting in the early 1700's from Germanic lands were called Pennsylvania Dutch and the term has continued to be used through the centuries. In actuality, these people are not from the Netherlands but from the lands which would eventually become the German Empire in 1871. “Pennsylvania Germans” is a more accurate description.

Large numbers of immigrants left their homes in the Palatinate region of the southern Rhineland to escape religious persecution and migrated to the British Colonies in America. A majority settled in Pennsylvania at the invitation of William Penn.

At the time all Germanic languages were called Dutch or Deutch in English colonies. The immigrants from the Palatinate region spoke “high dutch”. References to “high dutch” can be found as early as 1743 when the “High Dutch Pennsylvania Journal” was published, as well as in numerous wills and deeds where notations were included “written in high dutch” or “signed in high dutch.” It was the name of the language spoken by this group of immigrants that led to the colonists referring to them as Pennsylvania Dutch.

Pennsylvania Dutch genealogy research