Wisconsin, Swiss history, Wisconsin Folklife, Swiss colony, Immigration
One of the most striking indexes of ethnic identity is the extent to which an ethnic group is able to demonstrate that its significance in the history of a region is greater than its number. I've never known whether this was an advantage or disadvantage to Swiss-Americans, whose numbers, after all, have rarely overwhelmed those of other ethnic communities. Southern Wisconsin, nevertheless, has long offered Swiss-Americans the exception that many took as proof of the rule. In Green county, particularly in the towns of New Glarus and Monroe, numbers were on the side of Swiss-Americans, creating for them what James P. Leary calls "the cultural heart of Swiss Wisconsin" (p 7). If there is any place that has earned the epithet, "Swiss-American," it is surely southern Wisconsin. If there is any place where one would expect to hear Swiss music today as evidence for that epithet, it is surely southern Wisconsin. The music and 33 music history we encounter in the two publications reviewed . here amply demonstrate the centrality of the question of "importance" -- in particular, importance to the establishment of Wisconsin's own cultural history. The publications seem to suggest, moreover, that it is perhaps through the performative quality of music that an ethnic group whose numbers are small can maintain and even create· that sense of importance necessary to ethnic identity. Swiss-American music is important in the cultural history of Wisconsin, indeed well beyond the numbers of Swiss-Americans in Green County, and this book and cassette help us understand why.
Bohlman, Philip V.
"Book Review: Yodeling in Dairyland: A History of Swiss Music in Wisconsin.,"
Swiss American Historical Society Review: Vol. 30
, Article 5.
Available at: https://scholarsarchive.byu.edu/sahs_review/vol30/iss1/5