In Touch with Prairie Living
By Michael M. Miller
The Germans from Russia Heritage Collection (GRHC) at the NDSU
Libraries in Fargo reaches out to prairie families and former Dakotans.
In various ways, it affirms the heritage of the Germans from Russia
as an important part of the northern plains culture. My thanks to
the many people who visited the GRHC information tables at the Java,
SD, Centennial in June.
On June 19, the North Dakota State University campus experienced
major flash flooding from heavy rains. Losses at NDSU may reach
$30 million dollars. The Main Library at NDSU suffered losses totaling
more than $4 million dollars primarily to the Lower Level and the
thousands of valuable journals that had to be discarded. Fortunately,
the archival and historical materials of the Institute for Regional
Studies and the Germans from Russia Heritage Collection located
at the Lower Level did not receive serious water damage. Materials
have been moved to other locations in Fargo. The valuable German-Russian
books and other materials are in good shape and have been moved
to the NDSU Technology Skills Center north of the Fargodome. While
in Stuttgart, Germany, until June 22, I was informed with a phone
call of the flooding in Fargo.
From July 18-26, I joined staff of Prairie Public Television,
Fargo, traveling to Saskatchewan for documentary filming. We filmed
where the German-Russians settled: areas near Allan, Leader, Luseland,
Regina, Saskatoon, St. Joseph's Colony, Tramping Lake, and Unity.
This was a valuable experience in many ways for oral history, filming
historic sites including the wrought-iron crosses in cemeteries,
churches, farms and homesteads. Some of the filming will be used
in the future documentary on the German-Russian wrought-iron crossed
produced by Prairie Public Television, Fargo, for the fall of 2001.
Our special thanks to colleagues in Saskatchewan who assisted us
to identify historical sites for filming and introduced us to elderly
persons who knew much of the history. We were truly impressed with
the interest from our Canadian friends.
The Institute for Regional Studies, NDSU Libraries, Fargo, has
available the "North Dakota Biography Index" (NDBI), the best place
to begin for information about North Dakotans, both living and deceased.
Searching the index will enable you to quickly determine which publication
to consult for biographical information. The total number of biographical
sketches indexed is currently more than 138,000 found in some 540
publications. For further information about the "North Dakota Biography
Index," go the Institute website: library.ndsu.edu/db/biography/,
or contact the Institute staff: Tel: 1-701-231-8914; E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.
GRHC's traveling exhibit, "The Kempf Family: Germans from Russia
Weavers on the Dakota Prairies," continues to be shown at the Public
Library, Harvey, ND, until December 1. The NDSU Library, Fargo,
features in the new Marie Rudel Portner Germans from Russia room
until December 31, the exhibit, "Germans from Russia Wedding Traditions:
From the Steppe of South Russia & Bessarabia to the Dakota Prairies."
The award-winning documentary videotapes "The Germans from Russia:
Children of the Steppe, Children of the Prairie" (1999), and "Schmeckfest:
Food Traditions of the Germans from Russia" (2000), continue to
be well received throughout North America. To secure the videotapes,
contact Prairie Public at 1-800-359-6900. The videotapes can also
be secured by going to this GRHC website at "Videotape Documentary
& Other Projects." The videotapes include 20-minute bonus video
footage, not shown in the one-hour documentary. See many interesting
pages about the documentary at the Prairie Public Broadcasting website:
Because of the interest developed from the "Schmeckfest" documentary,
additional cookbooks including German-Russian recipes have been
added to the GRHC web at the section, "Cookbooks."
GRHC has published an important new book about the fate of the
Germans in the former Soviet Union, "The Open Wound: The Genocide
of German Ethnic Minorities in Russia and the Soviet Union, 1915-1949
and Beyond," by Samuel D. Sinner, doctoral history student at the
University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Many German-Russians will discover
in this book the names of familiar ancestral villages, as well as
those of their own families and relatives. For further information,
go to this GRHC website: library.ndsu.edu/grhc/order/general/sinner.html.
For further information about donations to the collection, including
family histories, outreach programs, videotape documentaries, Journey
to the Homeland Tour including Odessa, Ukraine and Stuttgart, Germany,
for late May/early June, 2001; "North Dakota Biography Index"; German-Russian
cookbooks; GRHC's publications including these new books, "Marienberg:
Fate of a Village," "Open Wound," and "The Dark Abyss of Exile:
A Story of Survival"; and German-Russian heritage, contact Michael
M. Miller, NDSU Libraries, PO Box 5599, Fargo, ND 58105-5599 (Tel:
701-231-8416; E-mail: Michael.Miller@ndsu.edu;
GRHC website: http://library.ndsu.edu/grhc).