United Swiss Societies
of Northern California, Inc.
United Swiss Societeis of Northern California
   
Text Size

 Switzerland to America: A New Beginning

 Swiss emigrants to the USA totaled 104,000 according to the 1890 census. The first Swiss person in what is now known as the territory of the United States was Theobald von Erlach (1541 - 1565).

The late 18th and early 19th century saw a flow of Swiss farmers forming colonies especially in Russia and in the United States. Before the year 1820 some estimated 25,000 to 30,000 Swiss entered British North America. Most of them settled in regions of today’s Pennsylvania as well as North and South Carolina. In the next years until 1860 about as many Swiss arrived, making their homes mainly in the Midwestern states such as Ohio, Indiana, Illinois and Wisconsin. 50,000 came between 1860 and 1880, some 82,000 between 1881 and 1890, and estimated 90,000 more during the next three decades.

In spite of Swiss settlements like Highland (Illinois), New Glarus (Wisconsin), Gruetli (Tennessee) and Bernstadt (Kentucky) were emerging fast, most Swiss preferred rural villages of the Midwest and the Pacific Coast where especially the Italian Swiss were taking part in California’s winegrowing culture, or then took up residence in more industrial and urban regions such as New York, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Chicago, St. Louis or San Francisco. As the lifestyle and political institutions of the United States were compliant with those of their homeland most Swiss had no problems starting a new life in their part of the New World and became attached to both countries. 

 

Swiss immigration diminished after 1930 because of the Great Depression and World War II. 23,700 Swiss arrived until 1960, 29,100 more between 1961 and 1990. Many of them being professionals or employees in American branches of Swiss companies, returned after some time to Switzerland.


English French German Italian
Consulate General of Switzerland
Pier 17, Suite 600
San Francisco, CA 94111
United States of America
sfr.vertretung@eda.admin.ch

Tel.: +1 415 788 2272
Fax: +1 415 788 1402



 

Swiss Benevolent Society
of San Francisco
Pier 17, Suite 600
San Francisco, CA 94111
United States of America
assistance@sbssf.com

Tax ID
#94-6052328


The United Swiss Societies of Northern California (USSNC), founded in 1912, merged with the Swiss House Association of California, which had incorporated on July 21, 1930, the merger created the new name, United Swiss House of Northern California, Inc., which on February 11, 1983 incorporated to its current name. United Swiss Societies of Northern California, Inc., organized as a California Non-Profit Public Benefit Corporation, 501(c)(4), tax ID 23-7126939