Frisian Americans

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Frisian Americans
Total population
3,125 (2000 estimate)
Regions with significant populations
New York, New England, Wisconsin, Michigan, and Minnesota
American English, Frisian, German, Dutch
Related ethnic groups
Frisians, Dutch Americans, English Americans, German 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. 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.


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 which later became New York City. The New Amsterdam area was chiefly explored by one Jonas Bronk who led a group of settlers from North Frisia, and the region was later named The Bronx after him. Bronk (also known as Bronck) himself is said to have been either Danish or Swedish. 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."

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


    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