Austrian Americans

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Austrian Americans
Total population
646,438 (2019)
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). This may be an undercount, as 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.


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.


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. 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. 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.

Austrian settlements in the United States

U.S. communities with highest percentages of Austrian Americans

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

  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, 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

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

  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

See also

Further reading

  • 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