Visit Your Local PBS Station PBS Home PBS Home Programs A-Z TV Schedules Watch Video Donate Shop PBS Search PBS
This website is no longer actively maintained
Some material and features may be unavailable

Meryl Streep


Meryl Streep made her film debut in 1977. She has since been nominated for 25 Golden Globes and 15 Academy Awards (including wins for both Best Actress and Best Supporting Actress in Sophie’s Choice and Kramer v. Kramer, respectively) and, in 2004, received the American Film Institute’s Life Achievement Award. A New Jersey native and fifth-generation American, Steep’s ancestry can be traced back ten generations to the small town of Loffenau in Wurttemberg, Germany. It was from Loffenau that her second great-grandfather, Gottfried Streeb, illegally emigrated, possibly in the midst of the 1848 Revolution. Meryl’s 6th great-grandparent, George Streeb, was mayor of the town during the 1700s and there are 15 Streebs – her very distant relatives – still living in Loffenau today. The other branch of the Streep family came from a small town in Switzerland called Giswil. Meryl’s great-grandfather, Balthazar William Huber, emigrated to the US during the tumultuous period of the Franco-Prussian War.

Meryl’s maternal side has deep roots in Pennsylvania and Rhode Island. Her eighth great-grandfather, Lawrence Wilkinson was one of the first Europeans to settle Rhode Island. Lawrence’s grandson, John Wilkinson Sr., was a Quaker who settled in Bucks County, Pennsylvania (Wilkinson Road in Bucks County is named for the family). Another line of Meryl’s maternal family, the Crispins, can also be traced to Pennsylvania. The Crispins were distant relatives of William Penn, the founder of Pennsylvania, and records show they were among the first purchasers of land in Pennsylvania.

© 2015 WNET.ORG Properties LLC. All rights reserved.