United Swiss Societies
of Northern California, Inc.
United Swiss Societeis of Northern California
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Swiss Heritage


Swiss Celebrities:

George Lucas (1944 - )
Film director

George Lucas's devotion to timeless storytelling and cutting-edge innovation has resulted in some of the most successful and beloved films of all time including "American Graffiti", "Star Wars" and "Indiana Jones."

Michelle Pfeiffer (1958 - )
Film actress

She made her screen début in 1980, but first garnered mainstream attention with her appearance in "Scarface" (1983). She rose to prominence during the late 1980s and early 1990s, during which time she gave a series of critically-acclaimed performances in the films "Dangerous Liaisons" (1988), "Married to the Mob" (1988), and "The Fabulous Baker Boys" (1989).

Renée Zellweger (1969 - )
Film actress

Renée first gained widespread attention for her role in the film "Jerry Maguire" (1996), and subsequently received two nominations for the Academy Award for Best Actress  for her roles as Bridget Jones in the comedy "Bridget Jones's Diary" (2001) and as Roxie Hart in the musical "Chicago" (2002), and won the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress for her performance in the drama "Cold Mountain" (2003).

Jewel (1974 - )
singer-songwriter, actress and author

Jewel, is an American singer-songwriter, guitarist, actress, and poet. She has received three Grammy Award nominations and has sold twenty-seven million albums worldwide, and almost twenty million in the United States alone. She debuted on February 28, 1995, with the album, "Pieces of You", which became one of the best selling debut albums of all time, going platinum twelve times.

Chesley "Sully" Sullenberger (1951 - )

American airline transport pilot (ATP), safety expert, and accident investigator from Danville, California. Sullenberger rose to fame when he successfully ditched  US Airways Flight 1549 in the Hudson River off Manhattan, New York City, on January 15, 2009, saving the lives of all 155 people on the aircraft.

Meryl Streep (1949 - )
Film actress

Streep has received 16 Academy Award nominations, winning two, and 25 Golden Globe nominations, winning seven, more nominations than any other actor in the history of either award. The Streep family was from a small town of
Giswil, Switzerland.
James Caviezel (1968 - )
Film actor

Starred in "The Passion of the Christ"  (2004). The movie made headlines and broke box-office records around the world. Although the movie dealt with controversial matters, Caviezel's performance was acclaimed by both critics and viewers.
Liev Schreiber (1976 - )
Film actor

American actor, director and screenwriter. He became known during the late 1990s and early 2000s, having initially appeared in several independent films, and later mainstream Hollywood films, including the "Scream" trilogy of horror films and "X-Men Origins: Wolverine" and "Defiance."



A record number of Swiss joined the huge emigration waves to the United States in the 1880s.
This influx would change American attitudes toward immigration for good.

In that decade nearly 82,000 Swiss packed their bags, traveled overland to ports such as Hamburg and Le Havre and boarded steamships for America.

The number of Swiss emigrating to the US in the 1880s equaled the total amount over the previous 70 years. The Swiss joined a wave that counted nearly five million Europeans, more than double the figure of the previous decade.

It was a time of great upheaval. The world was coming out of a long economic depression, and there was social and political tension in Europe brought on by the second industrial revolution and population explosion. Between 1870 and 1914, Switzerland's population surged from 2.65 to nearly four million.

America proved to be a welcome outlet, with transatlantic emigration facilitated by much faster and cheaper transport – from railways to ocean-going steamships.


Read more: Ellis Island


 Switzerland to America: A New Beginning

 Swiss emigrants to the USA totaled 104,000 according to the 1890 census. The first Swiss person in what is now known as the territory of the United States was Theobald von Erlach (1541 - 1565).

The late 18th and early 19th century saw a flow of Swiss farmers forming colonies especially in Russia and in the United States. Before the year 1820 some estimated 25,000 to 30,000 Swiss entered British North America. Most of them settled in regions of today’s Pennsylvania as well as North and South Carolina. In the next years until 1860 about as many Swiss arrived, making their homes mainly in the Midwestern states such as Ohio, Indiana, Illinois and Wisconsin. 50,000 came between 1860 and 1880, some 82,000 between 1881 and 1890, and estimated 90,000 more during the next three decades.

In spite of Swiss settlements like Highland (Illinois), New Glarus (Wisconsin), Gruetli (Tennessee) and Bernstadt (Kentucky) were emerging fast, most Swiss preferred rural villages of the Midwest and the Pacific Coast where especially the Italian Swiss were taking part in California’s winegrowing culture, or then took up residence in more industrial and urban regions such as New York, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Chicago, St. Louis or San Francisco. As the lifestyle and political institutions of the United States were compliant with those of their homeland most Swiss had no problems starting a new life in their part of the New World and became attached to both countries. 


Swiss immigration diminished after 1930 because of the Great Depression and World War II. 23,700 Swiss arrived until 1960, 29,100 more between 1961 and 1990. Many of them being professionals or employees in American branches of Swiss companies, returned after some time to Switzerland.

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Consulate General of Switzerland
Pier 17, Suite 600
San Francisco, CA 94111
United States of America

Tel.: +1 415 788 2272
Fax: +1 415 788 1402


Swiss Benevolent Society
of San Francisco
Pier 17, Suite 600
San Francisco, CA 94111
United States of America

Tax ID

The United Swiss Societies of Northern California (USSNC), founded in 1912, merged with the Swiss House Association of California, which had incorporated on July 21, 1930, the merger created the new name, United Swiss House of Northern California, Inc., which on February 11, 1983 incorporated to its current name. United Swiss Societies of Northern California, Inc., organized as a California Non-Profit Public Benefit Corporation, 501(c)(4), tax ID 23-7126939