Dissertations and Theses @ UNI


Open Access Thesis


American Turners (Organization)--History; German Americans--History--20th century; United States--History--1933-1945;


Although German Americans were unable to completely recover from the discrimination endured during World War I, the American Turners proved to be a resilient group. Despite the insistence of some scholars that the German-American community in the United States lost the battle for cultural pluralism, from 1935 to 1945, the American Turners continued to craft and foster a unique Turner identity. Composed of what members perceived to be the best aspects of their German and American identities, the Turner identity allowed American Turners to both valorize their German heritage and present themselves as devoted Americans. My research into the American Turner Topics newsletter and the World War II era correspondence of the American Turner National Executive Committee reveals that the utilization of the English and German languages in addition to political participation were key elements in the preservation of the Turner identity.

Until the end of World War II, the American Turners actively used language and politics to establish a unique Turner identity. However, the outbreak of war in Europe had a profound effect on the organization. Still able to recall the horrific anti-German sentiment of World War I, the American Turners sought to avoid a similar situation as the entry of the United States into World War II proved imminent. By 1938, Turner correspondence and articles in American Turner Topics began promoting Americanization to deemphasize their German ties. The process of Americanization, undertaken by the American Turners from 1938-1945, resulted in the transformation of the Turner identity. This study traces the transformation of the American Turner organization from a bastion of cultural pluralism to a fully Americanized institution through the efforts of members to equate Turnerism with Americanism.

Year of Submission


Degree Name

Master of Arts


Department of History

First Advisor

Emily Machen, Chair

Date Original


Object Description

1 PDF file (iii, 127 pages)