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New book traces heritage of Luxembourgers in the US
Culture & Life

New book traces heritage of Luxembourgers in the US

3 min. 29.07.2015 From our online archive
The experiences of the thousands of Luxembourgers who emigrated to the US since 1835 and their subsequent influences have been immortalised in a new English book.

The experiences of the thousands of Luxembourgers who emigrated to the US since 1835 and their subsequent influences have been immortalised in a new English book.

"Luxembourg-America, 19th, 20th and 21st Centuries" describes how and why, between 1835 and 1914, 72,000 Luxembourgers emigrated to the US, leaving a lasting impression on the communities where they settled.

“Luxembourg was an extremely poor country. People were really starving. They had a series of poor harvests and so people decided, especially from Luxembourg, to go to the US,” Guy Dockendorf, a contributor to the book and former director general of the Luxembourg Ministry of Culture, said.

The book explores how, while Luxembourgers migrated to other places, including South America, France and Belgium, Luxembourg emigration to the US was considered a global success.

Luxembourgers built small communities in areas like Belgium and Port Washington as well as urban areas including Chicago and New York.

Some of their incredible stories are retold in the new book, which was commissioned as a companion to the Roots and Leaves Museum at the Luxembourg American Cultural Center in Belgium, Wisconsin.

“The book is kind of an ultimate guide to the museum. That's the first part,” said Mr Dockendorf, explaining that it includes information found on the panels in the museum while providing more up-to-date statistical information on Luxembourg today.

Famous Luxembourgers

The second part includes original articles by researchers about Luxembourgers who moved to the US and became famous.

Mr Dockendorf explained that this section also shows how the Luxembourg culture is being transferred to the US, for example through Luxembourg dishes like tripen.

"This black sausage dish is still playing an important part in the American culture in the mid west, probably more so than in our country,” he said.

One of the many Luxembourgers mentioned in the second part of the book is the writer Hugo Gernsback, who was born in Bonnevoie in Luxembourg City in 1884 and emigrated to the US in 1904.

Gernsback's prolific science-fiction contributions in the US garnered him the title the father of the science-fiction. In his honour, an annual award is presented at the World Science Fiction Convention named the “Hugos”.

Luxembourg Fest

The new book, which serves as a useful companion to US citizens tracing their Luxembourgish roots, was published ahead of the annual Luxembourg Fest of American and Heritage Weekend from August 7-9.

This weekend celebration welcomes hundreds of people from all over the US who have Luxembourgish heritage.

To offer a truly Luxembourgish experience, the Fest will this year feature live music from the Moselle Valley brass band, a parade on the Saturday and the unveiling of a new bust of Grand Duke Henri.

Jean Ensch, who contributed to the book, will also speak during the Fest's conference on the Friday on the subject of Luxembourg resources for researching family histories.

“The book will be presented during the conference and I've incorporated it into my own presentation. It's the perfect place to promote the book,” he said.

"Luxembourg-America, 19th, 20th and 21st Centuries" was jointly produced by the Luxembourg American Cultural Society and Luxembourg not-for-profit Roots and Leaves and is available for sale in most Luxembourgish book shops for 32 euros. It can also be purchased from the American Cultural Center in the US.

It is edited by Brain&More, ISBN: 978-99959-941-0-5.

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