Austrian Americans

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Austrian Americans
Total population
646,438 (2019)[1]
Regions with significant populations
New York, California, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Florida, Illinois, New Jersey
German (especially Austrian German), American English
Roman Catholic, Protestant; Jewish and other minorities
Related ethnic groups
Dutch Americans
German Americans
Swiss Americans
German diasporas

Austrian Americans (German: Österreichamerikaner, pronounced [ˈøːstɐʁaɪçʔameʁiˌkaːnɐ]) are Americans of Austrian descent, chiefly German-speaking Catholics and Jews. According to the 2000 U.S. census, there were 735,128 Americans of full or partial Austrian descent, accounting for 0.3% of the population. The states with the largest Austrian American populations are New York (93,083), California (84,959), Pennsylvania (58,002) (most of them in the Lehigh Valley), Florida (54,214), New Jersey (45,154), and Ohio (27,017).[2]

This may be an undercount since many German Americans, Czech Americans, Polish Americans, Slovak Americans, and Ukrainian Americans, and other Americans with Central European ancestry can trace their roots from the Habsburg territories of Austria, the Austrian Empire, or Cisleithania in the Austro-Hungarian Empire, regions which were major sources of immigrants to the United States before World War I, and whose inhabitants often assimilated into larger immigrant and ethnic communities throughout the United States.[3][4]


The Austrian migration to the USA probably started in 1734, when a group of 50 families from the city of Salzburg, Austria, migrated to the newly founded Georgia. Having a Protestant background, they migrated because of Catholic repression in their country.

In the first fifty years of the 19th century many more Austrians emigrated to the United States, although the number of Austrian emigrants did not exceed a thousand people. Prior to the year 1918, the precise number of Austrians who emigrated to the USA is unknown since Austria was part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, so the U.S. Census recorded the number of people from all over the empire in the same group (the Austro-Hungarian group).

In this period, the Austrians of the United States received religious education thanks to the arrival of 100 to 200 Catholic priests from Germany and Austria. Those religious had been sent by the Leopoldine Stiftung, an Austrian organization that was founded for help both to the Austrians emigrated and the Native Americans, and they monitored their religious education in places such as Illinois, Iowa, Michigan, Pennsylvania and Louisiana. Most of the emigrants were Tyroleans who lacked of lands or that fled the Metternich regime, who used repression to control the population. The political refugees were mostly anticlerical and against slavery. They were liberals and adapted quickly to their new country.

The immigration of Austrians increased during the second half of 19th century, and in 1900 had 275,000 Austrians living in the USA. Many Austrians worked in the United States as miners and servants. Many Austrians settled in New York City, Pittsburgh, and Chicago. Since 1880, when a great wave of emigration started from all over Europe, Austrians also emigrated massively to the United States, looking for new agricultural land on which to work because as the Austrian Empire was undergoing industrialization, fields were being replaced by cities. However, the same was happening in the western United States. From 1901 to 1910 alone, Austrians were one of the ten most significant immigrant groups in the United States, with more than 2.1 million Austrians. Scholarly research on this topic is growing, in the Journal of Austrian-American History and elsewhere.

Most of these newly immigrated Austrians were cosmopolitan and were left-wing. They found employment in Chicago stockyards and in Pennsylvania, in jobs related to cement and steel factories. Many of them, more than 35 percent, returned to Austria with the savings that they had made by their employment.

In 1914–1938, Austrian immigration was low, until it slowed to a trickle during the years of the Depression. Between 1919 and 1924, fewer than 20,000 Austrians emigrated to the North American country, mainly from Burgenland. Also, laws restricting emigration to the US, imposed by the Austrian government, limited Austrian emigration further, reducing it to only 1,413 persons per year.

However, since the late 1930s, many other Austrians migrated to the United States. Most of them were Jews fleeing the Nazi persecution which started with the Annexation of Austria in 1938. In 1941, some 29,000 Jewish Austrians had emigrated to the United States. Most of them were doctors, lawyers, architects and artists (such as composers, writers, and stage and film directors).

Much later, between 1945 and 1960, some 40,000 Austrians emigrated to the United States. Since the 1960s, however, Austrian immigration has been very small, mostly because Austria is now a developed nation, where poverty and political oppression are scarce. According to the 1990 U.S. census, 948,558 people identified their origins in Austria.[5] Most of the present-day immigrants who currently live in the United States who were born in Austria identify themselves as being of Austrian ancestry, but the percentage who identify themselves as being of German ancestry is larger than the one expected on the basis of the opinion polls in Austria. According to the United States Census Bureau, in 2015, there were 26,603 individuals living in the U.S. born in Austria who identified themselves as being of Austrian ancestry.[6] By contrast, in the same year, there were 6,200 individuals living in the U.S. born in Austria who identified themselves as being of German ancestry.[7] Most of the immigrants from South Tyrol in Italy to the United States identify themselves as being of German rather than Austrian ancestry. According to the United States Census Bureau, in 2015, there were 365 individuals living in the U.S. born in Italy who identified themselves as being of Austrian ancestry.[6] By contrast, in the same year, there were 1040 individuals living in the U.S. born in Italy who identified themselves as being of German ancestry.[7]


Austrian immigrants adapted quickly to American society because the Austro-Hungarian Empire had also been a melting pot of many cultures and languages. On the other hand, despite the rejection that Austrians feel toward the behavior of the Germans, regarded by Austrians as less tolerants and cosmopolitans, they have suffered the same damages and discrimination that German immigrants have faced in the United States. They were considered by Americans to be the same because of their language and both world wars.[5] Most Austrian Americans speak American English and German (the official language of Austria).


Most Austrians are Roman Catholic. The Austrian contribution in the 19th century in evangelizing Native Americans is remarkable. However, in the 19th century, Austrians also had to work with Irish Catholic priests, who spoke English and rejected them, to baptize the Natives and convert them to Catholicism. Thus, the Leopoldine Society sent money and priests to North America and led to the creation of over 400 churches on the East Coast, in the Midwest, and in the Indian Countries, located west of those areas. It was especially prominent in cities such as in Cincinnati and St. Louis. The Benedictines and Franciscans also built thousands of congregations.

However, the expansion of Catholicism conducted by Austrian priests caused a rejection of American society, as it could change the religious balance in the country. Therefore, for a long time, Austrians once again had to struggle to adapt to American life. The 20th century reduced the religiosity of the average Austrian American, as other Americans.

The emigration of other religious groups from Austria to the United States, especially the Jews from Vienna after 1938, has also contributed to strengthen religious variety in the United States.[5][8] Isidor Bush (1822–98) emigrated from Vienna in 1849 and became a leading Jewish citizen of the city of St. Louis and the state of Missouri through his business ventures, religious work, and political activities. His vinyards were famous and profitable.[9]

Austrian settlements in the United States[edit]

U.S. communities with highest percentages of Austrian Americans[edit]

The U.S. communities with the highest percentage of self-professed Austrian Americans are:[10]

  1. Waterville, Wisconsin 12.10%
  2. Coplay, Pennsylvania 10.60%
  3. Durand, Wisconsin 9.20%
  4. Rock Creek, Wisconsin and Northampton, Pennsylvania 5.20%
  5. Allen Township, Pennsylvania 4.50%
  6. Drammen, Wisconsin 4.40%
  7. Palenville, New York 4.30%
  8. Great Neck Plaza, New York, Upper Nazareth Township, Northampton County, Pennsylvania and Schuylkill Township, Pennsylvania (Schuylkill County, Pennsylvania) 4.20%
  9. Noble Township, Indiana (LaPorte County, Indiana) 4.10%
  10. Highland Beach, Florida and Mondovi, Wisconsin 4.00%
  11. North Catasauqua, Pennsylvania 3.90%
  12. Russell Gardens, New York 3.80%
  13. Washington Township, Kansas (Crawford County, Kansas) 3.70%
  14. Whitehall Township, Pennsylvania, Arma, Kansas and Tuscarawas, Ohio 3.60%
  15. Hewlett Harbor, New York, East Union Township, Pennsylvania and Indian Hills, Colorado 3.30%
  16. Ellis, Kansas and Harbor Isle, New York 3.20%
  17. Brunswick, Wisconsin, Nazareth, Pennsylvania, Shelby Township, Indiana (Shelby County, Indiana) and Columbia, California 3.10%
  18. Kensington, New York, Stamford, Vermont and Jericho, New York 3.00%
  19. Sherry, Wisconsin, Beaver Meadows, Pennsylvania, Sheridan Township, Kansas (Crawford County, Kansas) and Butler Township, Pennsylvania (Luzerne County, Pennsylvania) 2.90%
  20. Berlin Township, Ohio (Knox County, Ohio), North Union Township, Pennsylvania (Schuylkill County, Pennsylvania), Frontenac, Kansas and Tipton, Pennsylvania 2.70%
  21. Lower Milford Township, Lehigh County, Pennsylvania, Catasauqua, Pennsylvania, Great Neck Estates, New York, Lake Success, New York, Barataria, Louisiana, Upper Milford Township, Lehigh County, Pennsylvania, Spring Brook, Wisconsin, Roslyn, New York and Roslyn Estates, New York 2.60%
  22. Black Creek Township, Pennsylvania and Morganville, New Jersey 2.50%
  23. Atlantic Beach, New York, Moore Township, Pennsylvania, Warwick Township, Tuscarawas County, Ohio (Tuscarawas County, Ohio) and Woodbury, New York 2.40%
  24. South Whitehall Township, Pennsylvania, Tangerine, Florida, Green Township, Indiana (Madison County, Indiana), Hanover Township, Pennsylvania (Lehigh County, Pennsylvania), Jacksonport, Wisconsin and Plainview, New York 2.30%
  25. Shamokin Township, Pennsylvania, Old Bethpage, New York, Wesley Hills, New York, Bushkill Township, Pennsylvania, Cleveland Township, Pennsylvania and Atwood, Kansas 2.20%
  26. East Hills, New York, Salisbury Township, Pennsylvania (Lehigh County, Pennsylvania), Newark Valley, New York, Shippen Township, Pennsylvania (Cameron County, Pennsylvania), East Allen Township, Pennsylvania, Kingston, Washington, Palm Beach, Florida, Baiting Hollow, New York, Bridgeport, New York, Emmaus, Pennsylvania, North Whitehall Township, Pennsylvania, Dunn, Wisconsin, Millburn Township, New Jersey, Atwood, Kansas, Canaan Township, Ohio (Madison County, Ohio), Pomona, New York, Macungie, Pennsylvania, Madison Lake, Minnesota, Nockamixon Township, Pennsylvania and Sunol, California 2.10%
  27. Waterloo Township, Michigan, Columbus, Kansas and Monroe Township, New Jersey (Middlesex County, New Jersey) 2.00%

U.S. communities with the most residents born in Austria[edit]

The U.S. communities where Austrian Americans make up more than 1% of the total population are:[11]

  1. Hillside Lake, New York 1.4%
  2. Redway, California 1.3%
  3. Black Diamond, Florida 1.2%
  4. Smallwood, New York 1.2%
  5. Highland Beach, Florida 1.2%
  6. Cordova, Maryland 1.2%
  7. Keystone, Colorado 1.2%
  8. North Lynbrook, New York 1.1%
  9. Cedar Glen Lakes, New Jersey 1.1%
  10. Center City, Minnesota 1.1%
  11. Scotts Corners, New York 1.0%
  12. Killington, Vermont 1.0%
  13. Lexington, New York 1.0%
  14. Tuxedo Park, New York 1.0%

Notable people[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "2019 American Community Survey - 1-Year Estimates - Table B04006". Retrieved 14 March 2021.
  2. ^ American Fact Finder
  3. ^ Jones (2014)
  4. ^ Spaulding, (1968)
  5. ^ a b c Everyculture:Austrian-Americans. Posted by Syd Jones. Retrieved in December 08, 2011, to 13:05 pm.
  6. ^ a b "Explore Census Data".
  7. ^ a b "Explore Census Data".
  8. ^ Melissa Jane Taylor, "Family matters: the emigration of elderly Jews from Vienna to the United States, 1938-1941." Journal of Social History 45.1 (2011): 238-260. online
  9. ^ Siegmar Muehl, "Isidor Bush and the Bushberg Vineyards of Jefferson County," Missouri Historical Review (1999) 94#1 pp 42-58.
  10. ^ "Ancestry Map of Austrian Communities". Archived from the original on 8 July 2008. Retrieved 2008-08-13.
  11. ^ "Top 101 cities with the most residents born in Austria (population 500+)". Retrieved 2008-08-13.
  12. ^ Baxter, John (1998). Woody Allen: A Biography. New York: Carroll & Graf. p. 11. ISBN 978-0786708079.
  13. ^ Norwood, Stephen Harlan; Pollack, Eunice G. (2008). Encyclopedia of American Jewish history – Stephen Harlan Norwood, Eunice G. Pollack – Google Books. ISBN 9781851096381. Retrieved July 24, 2013.
  14. ^ "It's a Jungle Out There". The State. 6 October 1990. Retrieved 22 October 2010.
  15. ^ [1][permanent dead link] "Fritz Austerlitz, the Austrian American who went to Hollywood and emerged as Fred Astaire."
  16. ^ [2] Archived 2006-07-28 at the Wayback Machine "Bibi Besch was an Austrian actress."
  17. ^ [3] "Though his professional name was suggestive of a Latin Lover type, actor Ricardo Cortez was actually an Austrian Jew, born Jacob Krantz. He arrived in Hollywood in 1922, at a time when the Rudolph Valentino craze was at its height."
  18. ^ [4] regarding an Austrian decoration: "I have focused on Austrian studies most of my academic life. As an Austrian-American, it makes me especially proud."
  19. ^ [5] "Born and educated in Vienna. Immigrated to the United States and served in the 33rd Congressional District (Pittsburgh, PA)."
  20. ^ Speedbumps: Flooring It Through Hollywood By Teri Garr, Henriette Mantel
  21. ^ Science Fiction and Fantasy Literature Vol 2, Volume 2
  22. ^ Hans Holzer Obituary in The Guardian
  23. ^ [6] "Austrian-American legal philosopher, teacher, jurist, and writer on international law ..."
  24. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2004-11-09. Retrieved 2006-05-17.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link) "sat for Austrian native Greta Kempton five times in 1947 ..."
  25. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2008-01-22. Retrieved 2008-01-24.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link) "Joseph Keppler was born in Vienna, Austria, on 1st February, 1838."
  26. ^ [7] "A study of the life and work of Austrian composer Korngold ..."
  27. ^ [8] "Austrian born film star, Hedy Lamarr, of the 1930 and 40s was also a gifted electrical engineer." "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2005-02-28. Retrieved 2006-04-13.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link) "Hedy Lamarr had been an American citizen since 1953."
  28. ^ [9] "Elissa Landi Austrian/Italian leading lady."
  29. ^ MacDonald, Kerri (2016). "A Peek Into Vivian Maier's Family Album". Lens Blog. Retrieved April 6, 2018.
  30. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2006-04-24. Retrieved 2006-05-17.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link) "Austrian-American modernist architect Richard Neutra."
  31. ^ Wolfgang Pauli: "… in 1946 he became a naturalized citizen of the United States. Following World War II he returned to Zurich."
  32. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2006-09-12. Retrieved 2006-08-31.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link) "The Austrian-born Puck began ..."; (2005); retrieved 2006-08-31
  33. ^ [10] "Wilhelm Reich, an Austrian-Ukrainian of Jewish background."
  34. ^ Brady, James (October 26, 2003). "Leah Remini (TV and film actress)". Parade. Archived from the original on March 23, 2010.
  35. ^ Remini, Leah; Paley, Rebecca (2015). Troublemaker: Surviving Hollywood and Scientology. Ballantine Books. p. 4. ISBN 978-1-2500-9693-7.
  36. ^ Rudhyar, Dane (1982). The Magic of Tone and the Art of Music. Shambhala Publications, Inc.
  37. ^ Obituary of Schuschnigg in The Times, London, 19 November 1977
  38. ^ Alfred schutz, Austrian Economists and the Knowledge Problem - Knudsen 16 (1): 45 - Rationality and Society
  39. ^ [11] "Arnold Schwarzenegger, "The Austrian Oak", was a bodybuilding prodigy who won the ..." [12] "Arnold was the embodiment of the American (a naturalized citizen since 1983) dream ..."
  40. ^ [13] "Galvanizing, stern-featured Viennese character actress with extensive Broadway experience ..."
  41. ^ [14] "That's Erika Slezak, daughter of the famous Austrian-American actor Walter Slezak ..."
  42. ^ Wendel, Ray A. (2007). "In Honor Of Paul Watzlawick". Journal of Marital & Family Therapy. 33.3 (2007): 293–294.
  43. ^ [15] "Growing up in Vienna in a well-to-do Jewish family ..." [16] "One of the most brilliant Jewish scientists to be driven from Germany by Nazi persecution ..."
  44. ^ [17] "Wilder, Austrian-born, but in the US since 1934, directed his last film in 1981."

Further reading[edit]

  • Jones, J. Sydney. "Austrian Americans." Gale Encyclopedia of Multicultural America, edited by Thomas Riggs, (3rd ed., vol. 1, Gale, 2014), pp. 189–202. online
  • Pochmann, Henry A. German Culture in America: Philosophical and Literary Influences 1600–1900 (1957). 890pp; comprehensive review of German influence on Americans esp 19th century. online
  • Pochmann, Henry A. and Arthur R. Schult. Bibliography of German Culture in America to 1940 (2nd ed 1982); massive listing, but no annotations.
  • Spaulding, E. Wilder. The Quiet Invaders: The Story of the Austrian Impact upon America (Vienna: Österreichische Bundesverlag, 1968).
  • Thernstrom, Stephen, ed. Harvard Encyclopedia of American Ethnic Groups (1980) pp 164–170. Online free to borrow

External links[edit]