Pa Dutch is universal term our people refer to themselves
The Americanism, “Pennsylvania Dutch,” was a frontier collectivism begun by Philadelphia’s English Colonists in the 17th and 18th Centuries who coined the term in referring to “all immigrant Rhinelanders” that arrived to Pennsylvania at William Penn’s earlier Quaker preaching in 1677. The inhabitants of Holland and Northern Germany were referred to as the “Low Dutch,” among the early English settlers and the Alsatians, Palatinates, and Swiss farther up the Rhine Valley as the “High Dutch” at a time when Deutschland (Germany) did not exist in the early English vocabulary. But collectively, all grouped as the Pennsylvania Dutch coming from roughly the same region.
Prolific writers as Professor Dr. Cornelius Weygandt (University of Pennsylvania) wrote popular books about the Pennsylvania Dutch Country (1939), as Philadelphians still preferred to call the home of the Pennsylvania Dutch instead of central Pennsylvania; a popular tourist destination for the Pennsylvania Dutch Plain Amish. When learned Pennsylvania Dutchmen organized the Pennsylvania German Society in 1891, they attempted to correct and provide the nation with an intelligent understanding of our German Dialect-speaking ethnic people who were a diverse representation of the entire Rhine Valley of Europe, however, their namesake did not have the historic collective connotation as the earlier pioneer one: “Pennsylvanish Dutch.”
But in the 1950s, the academic philosophy laid down by Dr. Alfred L. Shoemaker and Dr. Don Yoder, leaders of the grass-roots Pennsylvania Folklife Society had questioned the proper wisdom of using the term “German.” Concerns arose even further about studies on the Pennsylvania Dutch culture in recent decades when socalled scholars began writing about our people as German-Americans, a term which in hopes became a synonym for “Pennsylvania Germans,” among a few researchers, starting in Fraktur.
Dr. John Joseph Stoudt often remarked how English historians deleted Pennsylvania Dutch participation in American history simply because they were not able to take the time to translate Pennsylvania German writings in the Colonial towns of Pennsylvania. Consequently, the large number of Pennsylvania “Germans” who were of the Lutheran, Reformed, and Catholic religious denominations had forgotten the vast number of German-dialect speaking Amish and Mennonite sects in Pennsylvania who were almost exclusively Swiss in ethnic origin. Studies done by Doctors Alfred L. Shoemaker, Don Yoder, and J. William Frey at Franklin and Marshall College at Lancaster in the 1950s and l960s chose the more democratic grass-roots term: “Pennsylvania Dutch” since it was a broader Americana label and felt much more accurate.
For Shoemaker and Yoder, instead of making the rounds speaking at “Grundsau lodges,” they converted hundreds of thousands of Americans to understand and appreciate the Pennsylvania Dutch culture by reading their (The) Dutchman newspaper, which naturally developed into a magazine, and later, became Pennsylvania Folklife, among hundreds of other articles, booklets, and publications the pair wrote. Despite the academic world’s propaganda past and present to replace the term Dutch with “German,” and this coming from a Pennsylvania Dutchman through German roots (mostly)- almost all natives do and will continue to call themselves Pennsylvania Dutch, and proudly! Used throughout the 18th Century on, historically, to refer to the inhabitants of the Rhine Valley from the Low Dutch to the High Dutch (German). This folklife practice of local, native Swiss, German, and French (Huguenot) descendants referring to themselves as “Dutch” is inborn, and anything else is a fabrication taught to them.