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 famous for starring in the films Out of Africa, The Devil Wears Prada, and It’s Complicated, among many others.

Meryl is the daughter of Mary Wolf (Wilkinson), a fine-artist and art editor, and Harry William Streep, a pharmaceutical executive. Her father was of German and Swiss-German descent, with his Streeb (later Streep) line going back to Baden-W├╝rttemberg, 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.

With her husband, sculptor Don Gummer, her children are musician and actor Henry Wolfe Gummer, actresses Mamie Gummer and Grace Gummer, and model Louisa Gummer.

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 Rosina Zeltmann/Zeltman. 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 Zurmuhle. 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 Scarborough Betts). Harry was born in 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.

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 Agnes 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.”

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 –

Genealogies 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

37 Responses

  1. JasonBaker says:

    I thought she was Jewish…

  2. APS says:

    “Her ancestry is a mixture of English, Swiss, Irish and Dutch. On her father’s side she can trace distant Sephardic Jewish ancestors from Spain.”

  3. Amanda says:

    I can’t wait to see the Iron Lady!

  4. real89luv says:

    she is eastern european what you think swiss and german is from the eastern part of europe switzerland and germany

  5. Tracy says:

    With her Mongolian cheekbones, I really thought she was Eastern European.

    • Af says:

      I’m mostly from Eastern Europe and I don’t consider myself Mongolian you ignorant.

      • Ania says:

        Mongolia is not in Europe, but Asia in the first place…
        besides by IInd WW lots of blonde slav children were taken off to the IIrd Reisch brought up as german infants, that may include may include she had oen in her background, but to my mind… highly doubtful, she looks germanic and britanic by features.

    • phaedra says:

      Weird you say this, my friend is central Asian (Tajik) and his mother has her cheekbones, nose and eyes. She does look like she has central Asia in her. But then again, this could be native American, since they look similar to Asians.

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