OAH Distinguished Lecturer Profile

OAH Distinguished Lectureship program 40 years 1981-2021

Walter D. Kamphoefner

Portrait of Walter D. Kamphoefner

Walter D. Kamphoefner has taught at Texas A&M University since 1988 and has written widely on immigration and ethnicity, with articles in four languages and three authored or coedited books in German and English. Since publishing a pioneering transatlantic study, The Westfalians: From Germany to Missouri (1987), he has worked extensively with immigrant letters and language. His latest book, Germany to Missouri: A Concise History (2021), surveys the sweep of the ethnic experience over three centuries. Kamphoefner served as president of the Society for German American Studies from 2015 to 2017. While his research focuses primarily on German immigrants, he also regularly teaches a course on multiethnic immigration, past and present, and occasionally publishes editorials on the subject.

NEW IN 2021: Germans in America: A Concise History (Rowman & Littlefield)

Featured Lecture

OAH Lectures

It's not what people don't know about immigration that worries me; it's the things they know that simply aren't true. Immigrants today, although they come in varying shades, are actually acculturating faster than their white counterparts in the long 19th century. Chain migration is older than the U.S., and was much more widespread before immigration restriction than it is now. Bilingual education, also in public schools, extends back before the Civil War. English language acquisition is proceeding as fast as ever. U.S. immigration policy needs to be based on facts, not myths.
This lecture examines the experiences of German Americans during the Great War. Those who view the World War I era only through the lens of victimization will be surprised to find German Americans on both sides of some violent confrontations. Theodore Roosevelt’s fulminations against the hyphen are refuted by doughboys writing home from France auf Deutsch, and when they paid the ultimate sacrifice, sometimes commemorated on tombstones in the German language. And on a lighter note, attendees will learn just who was responsible for the absurdity of “liberty cabbage.”