European immigration theme of annual observance

By Kristin Molinaro DLA Land and Maritime Public Affairs

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Associates learned about Central Ohio’s role in European immigration during the Defense Logistics Agency Land and Maritime’s European American Heritage Month program April 25.

Ohio History Connection archivist Elizabeth Plummer presented a pictorial history of Ohio immigrant life from the early days of the region’s colonial settlers to the mid-1950s as foreign-born residents reached into the millions.

Ohio drew immigrants from across the world, Plummer said. In the 1800’s, immigrants arrived in droves fleeing famine, desiring religious freedom or simply hoping for better educational and economic opportunities for their children. American policies such as the Homestead Act encouraged immigrants looking for cheap land and plentiful jobs to move to Ohio.

This led to a boom in Ohio’s growth and economy, with many positive effects of immigration still felt today, she said. 

DLA Land and Maritime’s Equal Employment Opportunity office hosted the program at the Defense Supply Center Columbus as part of its series of annual programs honoring the diverse heritages of its workforce. The European American Special Emphasis Program committee planned the program and theme “Immigration into Ohio and Europe.”

The program opened with the National Anthem sung by Aaron Layton and invocation given by Christie Ratcliff, both of DLA Land and Maritime, before mistress of ceremony Heather Dawson introduced Defense Finance and Accounting Service Columbus’ Ryan Carlson, DFAS champion

Carlson said the event’s speaker was fitting for the program’s third year, as it builds upon the perspectives of the program’s prior speakers: John Koenigsberg, child survivor of the Holocaust, and Dr. Agnes Risko, senior lecturer at The Ohio State University’s Department of Germanic Languages and Literature.

Taking the stage, Plummer led the audience through a brief history of the Ohio History Connection – which maintains the state archives and state museum – before launching into the history of European American immigrants in the region.

Following Plummer’s presentation, she led a robust question and answer session, taking questions from the audience until time wound down. Associates questions touched on tracing ancestry, prejudice experienced by German-speaking populations during the World Wars, today’s immigration patterns in the region and obscure historical references.

Genealogy-minded associates interested in tracing their family histories learned about many resources throughout the program. Plummer gave insight from her background as the Ohio History Connection’s outreach reference archivist traveling throughout Ohio and visiting genealogical societies to share family history resources. In addition to tracing immigrants to original homelands, several associates gained information on where to start in tracing family histories of those who might’ve been slaves, indentured servants or adopted.

After the question and answer session concluded, DLA Land and Maritime Chief of Staff Griff Warren presented Plummer with a memento in appreciation. EAPSEP Champion Ed Wingo offered closing remarks to round out the event.

The EAPSEP offers events year round to members. Those interested in learning more or joining the EAPSEP may contact program chair Matt Elliott, matthew.elliott@dla.mil.