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Frisian Americans

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Frisian Americans
Total population
3,125 (2000 estimate)[1][a]
Regions with significant populations
New York, New England, Wisconsin, Michigan, California, and Minnesota
American English, Frisian, German, Dutch, Low Saxon
Related ethnic groups
Other Frisians • Dutch Americans • German Americans • Mennonite Americans • Danish Americans

Frisian Americans are Americans with full or partial Frisian ancestry.

Frisians are a Germanic ethnic group native to the coastal parts of the Netherlands and Germany. They are closely related to the Dutch, Northern Germans, and the English and speak Frisian languages divided by geographical regions. The Old Frisian language was once the closest Germanic language to Old English, though outside influences (from Dutch on Frisian and from Norman French on English) have made both languages grow ever farther apart than they naturally would have as they were developing separately.

Today there exists a tripartite division of the original Frisians; namely the North Frisians, East Frisians and West Frisian, caused by the Frisia's constant loss of territory in the Middle Ages, but the West Frisians in the general do not feel or see themselves as part of a larger group of Frisians, and, according to a 1970 inquiry, identify themselves more with the Dutch than with East or North Frisians.[2] Therefore the moniker 'Frisian' is (when used for the speakers of all three Frisian language) a linguistic (and to some extent, cultural) concept, not a political one.

Because there is no modern united Frisian state, Frisian Americans are often included within Dutch Americans, German Americans or Scandinavian Americans.[3]



In the New Netherland colony, Frisian people from North Frisia, East Frisia and West Friesland were the largest ethnic group in the city of New Amsterdam (now New York City).[3] The New Amsterdam area was chiefly explored by Jonas Bronk, who led a group of settlers from North Frisia, and one of the city's boroughs was later named The Bronx after him.[3] Bronk (also known as Bronck) himself is said to have been either Danish or Swedish.[4][5] Many North-Frisian settlers were refugees of the Burchardi flood of 1634 which had destroyed the wealthy island of Strand. According to Paulsen, "they introduced their old democratic traditions into the patrician Dutch society of that time."[3]

Notable people

  • Icko Iben - Astrophysicist and distinguished Professor Emeritus at the University of Illinois
  • East Frisian Origin


    North Frisian origin


    West Frisian origin


    Fictional Frisian Americans



    1. ^ Excluding Dutch and German Americans, many of whom are of partial Frisian descent


    1. ^ "Table 1. First, Second, and Total Responses to the Ancestry Question by Detailed Ancestry Code: 2000". U.S. Census Bureau. Retrieved 2010-12-02.
    2. ^ Frisia. 'Facts and fiction' (1970), by D. Tamminga. (in Dutch)
    3. ^ a b c d e f Paulsen, Frederik Sr. "Frisians in the History of the United States". Rootsweb.com. Retrieved 11 January 2011.
    4. ^ van Laer, A. J. F. (1916). "Reviews of Books". The American Historical Review. 22 (1). Chicago: The University of Chicago Press on behalf of the American Historical Association: 164–166. JSTOR 1836219. … Jonas Bronck was a Dane …
    5. ^ Andersson, Brian G. (1998). "The Bronx, a Swedish Connection". Ancestry Magazine. 16 (4): 36–41.
    6. ^ "Across Oceans, Across Time". dkmuseum.org. Retrieved 12 January 2012. However, when a descendant visited Sylt, she was told in no uncertain terms by a local historian that her ancestor was Frisian, not Danish. ... His surname Jensen indicates at least some ethnic Danish heritage, while Boy(e) is a common Frisian name.

    Further reading

    • "Frisians" in Stephan Thernstrom, ed. Harvard Encyclopedia of American Ethnic Groups (1980), 401–403. comprehensive survey
    • ten Hoor, Marten. "Frisians in the United States" Michigan Alumnus Quarterly Review 58#10 (1951) :50-56 online