The German immigrant story is a long one—a story of early beginnings, continual growth, and steadily spreading influence. Germans were aboard the first boats that came ashore at Jamestown, and were among those who built the rockets that took men to the moon. In the years in between, they moved into nearly every corner of the U.S., tried their hand at nearly every trade and pursuit, and helped shape some of the fundamental institutions of American life.
Though they endured their share of hardship, they escaped much of the tragedy and harsh treatment that plagued many immigrant groups. Today, more than 40 million Americans claim German ancestry—more than any other group except the British.