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-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.

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. passingtime85 says:


    On Faces of America, the show that assisted in tracing Meryl’s ancestry, through traditional genealogical records they couldn’t find her Jewish ancestors and corrected her assumptions that she descended from Sephardic Dutch Jews.

    Yet later in the show, through genealogical mapping, it was proven Meryl is a cousin, within the past 250 years, of director Mike Nichols who is 100% Jewish, they confirmed his heritage in the course of the show as well. So even though they didn’t find the Sephardi connection through documentation, her DNA still showed a recent Jewish connection.

    • follers says:

      They didn’t say it was a Jewish connection.

      They said Streep and Nichols shared an ancestor, yes.

      They also said the same for Eva Longoria and Yo-Yo Ma, Stephen Colbert and Meryl Streep, and Mike Nichols and Dr. Oz (although that one may have been more distant).

      I’m not sure about this “250 years” thing. It’s difficult to believe Longoria and Ma have a common ancestor that recently. I also don’t think that length is true for Colbert and Streep.

      Streep and Nichols could certainly have a common ancestor at some point in time, whether it be a (non-Jewish) German, a Roman, or a Jew. But without documentation it’s impossible to tell, and it could be an ancestor well over 500 years ago (which is what I would guess).

      • passingtime85 says:

        Professor Henry Louis Gates stated that they used several tests, the one that established Streep and Nichols’ link could accurately determine a link within the past 250 years. Dr.Gates stated on Oprah Winfrey’s show that the test that established Nichols and Dr. Oz found the link from 9,000 years ago, basically just admitting share a haplogroup.

        But as it was established Nichols is 100% Ashkenazi Jew, being descended from Russian Jews through his father and German Jews from his mother, the link he shared with Streep would literally have to be a Jewish link. So the link is miniscule but obviously genetically traceable.

        As for the other links discussed, I cant surmise their accuracy as I agree, some of the links seem far fetched, but not impossible, many Oriental immigrants traveled westward constructing America’s railways, it’s not insane to to think an ancestor of Yo-Yo Ma somewhere along the way produced an offspring with an ancestor with Eva Longoria’s.

        • follers says:

          In Gates’s book write-up of the show, he states:
          “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.”

          So it seems Streep has a close ancestor with Colbert, although even that might be over 250 years ago (and it’s not been documented). With Nichols and Longoria, it must be even more distant than that.

          What type of ancestry could she share with Longoria? I guess it would have to be Spanish of some sort, so it must be very distant.

          In the write-up, he doesn’t state anything about Streep having Jewish ancestry – in fact, he debunks the Dutch Jewish story.

          I don’t doubt that, like all Europeans, Streep has a Jewish ancestor at some point. But I’m not sure there’s evidence she has a Jewish ancestor in, say, the last 500 years.

          • passingtime85 says:

            To my understanding base pairs, when they hit the millions, are called mega base pairs and they are roughly equal to centimorgans. If that’s true a total of 4 million base pairs means that Streep and Nichols are somewhere between 4th cousins once removed and fifth cousins, that relation would also be similar to her relationship to Longoria. In percentage terms they share about 0.0488%+ of their DNA, but less than 0.0977%. Pretty small numbers indeed, but still a traceable link that’s definitely within the past 250 years.

            The 30 million base pairs she shares with Colbert means they’re somewhere in the 3rd cousin once removed range and share 0.391%+ of their DNA. Now that link is pretty darn close, as I personally know my own 2nd cousins and there’s only about a 15-20 year age gap.

            It’s odd they didn’t find an actual record of how they’re linked and they had to rely solely on the DNA evidence. I mean Gates found in another study that Kyra Sedgwick and her husband Kevin Bacon are 9th cousins once removed and they were able to find their common ancestor. Not only that but they found Bacon’s 22nd grandfather, King Edward I(that means it’s a link from more than 700 years back), that he’s 12th cousins, three times removed from Obama, and that Brad Pitt is his 13th cousin twice removed. They could find all that and yet were not able to find record of how 3rd cousins are linked? Pretty odd I’d say.

            I’m not saying Streep’s Jewish roots are strong at all, and I realize they debunked the Dutch Jewish family lore, but the fact she’s related to Nichols suggest that Gates contradicted himself and may have omitted pertinent information.

            I’m just saying mentioning a remote or distant Jewish relation seems appropriate, seeing how there are profiles of this site that have completely unfounded and/or unexplained claims. Like Demi Lovato’s supposed Jewish heritage that she’s mentioned on her twitter, which she never elaborated on, nor has anyone found any records on the matter, other than the fact many Spanish and Portuguese families converted during the Inquisition. Or even more ambiguous profile like Viveca Lindfors’s that just mentions distant Jewish relation that shows absolutely no reference.

            It just seems worth mentioning on Meryl’s profile what with the DNA evidence.

          • follers says:

            Streep and Nichols 4th or 5th cousins? How is that possible? It could be somewhere within the realm of possibility, but such a relationship between Streep and Longoria is pretty much impossible. That’s why I’m saying the test doesn’t necessarily mean they’re closely related (the same for Streep and Colbert, who I am very sure aren’t literally third cousins once removed).

            Did Gates match Bacon and Sedgwick’s DNA? I know he matched them through genealogical research. Two people of colonial American ancestry are pretty likely to share a lot of common ancestors, and they are not that hard to trace.

            Demi Lovato actually is pretty likely to have Jewish ancestry at some relatively recent level. Many people of Spanish and Portuguese descent do. In his upcoming show, Gates documents such ancestry for Jessica Alba.

            Viveca Lindfors’s maternal great-great-great-great-grandfather, Adolf Ludvig Levin, was Jewish (#122 here).


            Anyway, I added the quote from Gates to Meryl’s page, but I think assuming more than that isn’t necessarily correct.

  2. angiemorton says:

    She is VERY German! But more, she is the mix of Germanic and Saxons.

    • Freerk says:

      Interesting “mix”. I presume you don’t know the Saxons were a Germanic tribe… in what is far later called North Germany (and later in England). There is still a state called Lower Saxony in today’s Germany.

  3. Freerk says:

    With every year, she resembles my mother more. O_o

    And I’m not related to her. Perhaps the German gene pool is a bit limited …

  4. ihatemostpeople says:

    She looks Native American in this picture. She must have some Native blood.

  5. judgeing by the surnames on her mothers side she seems to be of mostly english ancestory I live near Scarborough it’s a small seaside town in north east england. also Twining and Betts are English surnames

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