Meryl Streep


Streep in 2009, photo by lev radin /

Birth Name: Mary Louise Streep

Place of Birth: Summit, New Jersey, U.S.

Date of Birth: June 22, 1949

*father – German, including Swiss-German
*mother – English, German, Irish, Scots-Irish/Northern Irish, Scottish, remote French and Swedish

Meryl Streep is an American actress and philanthropist. She won the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress for Kramer vs. Kramer (1979), and has twice won the Academy Award for Best Actress, for Sophie’s Choice (1982) and The Iron Lady (2011). She is also known for starring in the films Julia, The Deer Hunter, Out of Africa, Death Becomes Her, The River Wild, The Bridges of Madison County, Marvin’s Room, The Hours, Adaptation., The Devil Wears Prada, Lions for Lambs, Mamma Mia!, and its sequel; Doubt, Julie & Julia, It’s Complicated, Into the Woods, The Post, Little Women (2019), The Prom, Let Them All Talk, and Don’t Look Up, and television’s Holocaust, Angels in America, and Big Little Lies.

Meryl is the daughter of Mary Wolf (Wilkinson), a fine-artist and art editor, and Harry William Streep, Jr., a pharmaceutical executive. Her father was of German and Swiss-German descent, with his Streeb (later Streep) line going back to Baden-Württemberg, Germany. Meryl’s mother had English, German, Irish, Scots-Irish/Northern Irish, Scottish, and remote French and Swedish, ancestry, including some roots in Pennsylvania going back to 1600s settlers of that state. Her eight times great-grandfather, Lawrence Wilkinson, was one of the first Europeans to settle in Rhode Island. Her family was among the first purchasers of land in Pennsylvania.

Meryl is married to sculptor Don Gummer, with whom she has four children, musician and actor Henry Wolfe Gummer, actresses Mamie Gummer and Grace Gummer, and model and actress Louisa Jacobson.

Meryl’s patrilineal line can be traced to Johann Jakob Streeb, who was born, c. 1608, in Baden-Württemberg, Germany.

Meryl’s paternal grandfather was Harry William/Wilbur Streep (the son of Frederick Streeb/Streep and Elizabeth Amberger/Amsberger). Harry was born in New Jersey. Frederick and Elizabeth were born in New Jersey, both of them to German immigrant parents. Frederick was the son of Gottfried/Godfrey Streeb and Christine/Christina/Christiana Rosina Zeltmann/Zeltman, who were born in Loffenau, Karlsruhe. Elizabeth was the daughter of Konrad Amsberger and Elizabeth Sam.

Meryl’s paternal grandmother was Helena/Helen/Carolena “Lena” Huber (the daughter of Wilhelm Balthazar “William” Huber and Helena/Carolina Fredericka “Lena” Halter/Haltee). Meryl’s grandmother Helena was born in New Jersey. Wilhelm was Swiss, of Swiss-German background, born in Giswil, in the canton of Obwalden, and was the son of Felix Huber and Franziska Zurmühle. Meryl’s great-grandmother Helena was the daughter of German parents, Wilhelm/Henry Halter and Regina Huff.

Meryl’s maternal grandfather was Harry Rockafellow Wilkinson (the son of Eleazer Twining Wilkinson and Margaretta/Margaret “Libby” Betts). Harry was born in Rushland, Bucks, Pennsylvania, and had English, some Scots-Irish/Northern Irish, Irish, Scottish, and remote French and Swedish, ancestry. Eleazer was the son of Samuel Twining Wilkinson and Julianna V. Simpson. Margaretta was the daughter of Stephen Betts and Letitia/Leticia Kinsey Hudnut/Cooper.

Meryl’s maternal grandmother was Mary Agnes “Mamie” Wolf (the daughter of Henry Charles Wolf and Mary Agnes McFadden). Meryl’s grandmother Mary Agnes was born in Pennsylvania. Henry was born in Pennsylvania, to German parents. Meryl’s great-grandmother Mary was born in Ireland, the daughter of Manus McFadden and Grace Strain.

Meryl had believed that her paternal ancestry came from the Streep family, a Dutch family that was said to be descended from distant Sephardi Jewish ancestors. However, when her ancestry was traced on the 2010 series Faces of America (with Henry Louis Gates, Jr.), Meryl found out that she had no Dutch or Sephardi Jewish roots. Her genealogy was not connected to the Streep family of the Netherlands, because her patrilineal ancestors, who were German, were originally named Streeb, and had changed their surname to Streep. As of the 1910 U.S. Census, the surname was still spelled as Streeb.

A DNA test whose results were displayed on Faces of America stated that Meryl’s genetic ancestry is:

*100% European

In his 2010 book elaborating on the series, Faces of America: How 12 Extraordinary People Discovered their Pasts, Henry Louis Gates, Jr. writes, “The Broad Institute’s testing of Meryl’s autosomal DNA revealed that she shares recent ancestral connections to Mike Nichols (of four million base pairs on chromosome 13) and to Eva Longoria (of five million base pairs on chromosome 2), as well as an extraordinarily close ancestral connection to Stephen Colbert. Indeed, Meryl and Stephen share thirty million base pairs – a huge stretch of identical DNA.”

DNA tests performed by the show Finding Your Roots with Henry Louis Gates, Jr. found that Meryl has a common ancestor with actress, writer, and director Pamela Adlon, through Pamela’s mother’s side.

Sources: Genealogies of Meryl Streep –

Genealogy of Meryl Streep (focusing on her father’s side) –

Meryl’s paternal great-grandparents, Frederick Streeb/Streep and Elizabeth Amberger/Amsberger, on the 1910 U.S. Census –

Family history of Meryl’s paternal grandmother, Helena/Helen/Carolena “Lena” Huber –

Meryl’s paternal great-grandparents, Wilhelm Balthazar “William” Huber and Helena/Carolina Fredericka “Lena” Halter/Haltee, on the 1900 U.S. Census –

Genealogy of Meryl Streep (focusing on her mother’s side) –

Meryl’s maternal grandmother, Mary Agnes “Mamie” Wolf, on the 1900 U.S. Census –

Death records of Meryl’s maternal great-grandparents, Henry Charles Wolf and Mary Agnes McFadden –


Curious about ethnicity

41 Responses

  1. bill says:

    Mary Louise Streep is my 4th cousin on her mother’s side. Her great great grandparents, Manus Thomas McFadden and Grace Strain McFadden were siblings with my great great grandparents Hugh Strain Jr and Catherine McFadden Strain. Manus was Catherine’s older brother and Hugh was Grace’s older brother. They were born in Muntermella, Dunfanaghy, County Donegal, Ireland. Manus and Grace immigrated to Mauch Chunk, Carbon County, Pennsylvania in 1864 with their oldest daughter Mary Agnes McFadden Wolf. Hugh and Catherine never immigrated from Ireland, but their three oldest daughters did. My great great grandmother Mary Ann Strain immigrated to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and married her 3rd cousin James Joseph Coyle Sr in Philadelphia Pennsylvania they weee 3rd cousins on the McFadden side. Both came to USA in 1887. The McFadden descendants migrated to Bethlehem, Lehigh County, Pennsylvania and a few to Philadelphia Pennsylvania in the early 1900s. I matched Meryl’s nephew Jonathan Streep, son of Dana Streep, on ancestrydna, and I match her Wilkinson first cousins on both ancestrydna and 23andmedna as my 4th cousins too. I match several McFadden 3rd cousins in Bethlehem who are also Meryl’s 3rd cousins. She did not have her DNA tested by ancestrydna or 23andmedna. However my tree on ancestry is over 8500 strong. I been working on it since 1990, and lately since I fully retired in 2020. My one daughter is an actress and lawyer and resembles Meryl Streep, except she has that flaming copper red hair. I am 68% Irish and 23% Scots Irish and 4% German with the remainder as English, Welsh, and Norwegian.

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