Michigan History

Ann Arbor: A Center for Multiculturalism


Salem Evangelical Lutheran Church (was formally then First German Evangelical Society of Scio)

Salem Evangelical Lutheran Church (was formally the First German Evangelical Society of Scio)

Ann Arbor is a city of many religious, racial and ethnic communities.  The first people to settle on the land that comprises Ann Arbor were the Native Americans, (Ojibwa, Ottowa, Huron and Pottawatomi) who were eventually followed by the western Europeans. The first foreign-born immigrants to arrive in Ann Arbor were Germans from the state of New York. Once the German population in Ann Arbor began to grow, they created The First German Evangelical Society of Scio, which was a place of Christian worship for the German population.


Germans were eventually followed by a wave of Irish immigrants coming to Ann Arbor because of the 1830’s potato famine in Ireland, while African Americans came to Ann Arbor is large numbers between 1830-1860 because of the city’s geographic location in the north and the relative tolerance of towards blacks at the time. The city was home to the birth of the Michigan Anti-Slavery Society in 1836, and the abolitionist newspaper Signal of Liberty. Jewish people began coming in large numbers to Ann Arbor after the year 1850. These ethnic and racial groups are just some of the many examples of why Ann Arbor is such a diverse city today, and why the city currently is considered a progressive and liberal region in America.