Wednesday, December 2, 2015

What-I'm-Reading-Wednesday: Journey to Pennsylvania by Gottlieb Mittelberger.

I was alerted to this book by a local historian who had researched his German ancestry. Mittelberger poignantly details the real story of immigrants from Germany and conveys their merciless exploitation by men involved with recruiting and transporting  refugees in the 18th century.

Mittelberger's travel log describes his own emigration to Pennsylvania in 1750 and was written after his return to his German homeland four years later to forewarn his countrymen about the problems they would encounter. Originally written in German, this edition was edited and translated by Oscar Handlin and John Clive and published by Belknap Press of Harvard University in 1960.

Like many immigrants to the United States, Mittelberger left Germany to escape oppressive religious and economic conditions and to begin a new life in the New World. "Newlanders" were the unscrupulous scouts who marketed the colonies by making false promises and who  profited from the refugees. Mittelberger describes the deplorable conditions aboard ships during the passage to America and the plight of many immigrants who were forced to work as indentured servants for many years in order to pay for their passage.

Mittelberger enjoyed more prosperous circumstances when he arrived in Philadelphia in 1750. During the next four years he tried to make a new start and keenly observed daily life in the colonies, but the author finally abandoned his efforts in 1754 and journeyed back to his homeland. Journey to Pennsylvania includes descriptions of both the bounty and the hardships in colonial Philadelphia.

 This volume is available from the Ort Library catalog here: Click on “Availability,” then click on the yellow “Request” button.  Log in using your first name and 14 digit library barcode from your ID.  If you need assistance, please contact the Circulation Desk at 301 687-4395.

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