We are currently working on an up-to-date history of the Germanic Languages and Literatures Department. In the meantime, please see former Penn German Professor John McCarthy's in-depth study of the history of Germanics at the University of Pennsylvania (reproduced here with the author's permission).
John McCarthy - "An Indigenous and Not an Exotic Plant": Toward a History of Germanics at Penn," in Teaching German in Twentieth-Century America, eds. David Bensler, Craig W. Nickisch, Cora Lee Nollendorfs. Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 2001. pp. 146 - 172.