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.
In August and September, we traveled to North Dakota communities
for videotaping and interviewing for future documentary projects.
Persons filmed included Pauline Neher Diede, Hebron; Vi Kruckenberg
Schielke and Arlene Kruckenberg Knutson, Beulah; Monsignor Joseph
Senger, Orrin; Theresa Voller Wolf with her daughters, Diane and
Marie, Strasburg; and Paul Welder, Linton.
GRHC will have an exhibit booth for the first time at the following
Pride of Dakota Showcase events: November 9-10, State Fair Center,
Minot; November 16-17, Alerus Center, Grand Forks; November 23-24,
Centennial Hall, Fargo; December 7-8, Civic Center Exhibition Hall,
Bismarck. The times are 10 am to 6 pm on Saturdays and from 12 noon
to 5 pm on Sundays. Join us to purchase books, videotapes, maps,
and cookbooks available.
Prairie Public's "Prairie Crosses, Prairie Voices: Iron Crosses
of the Great Plains" is receiving a tremendous response from
viewers. Be watching for this third documentary of PPTV's Germans
from Russia series on other PBS stations in 2003.
Iron Crosses stand as sentinels on the prairie landscape, framed
by vast expanses of grass and sky. Though they stand silent, behind
each cross is a story. "Prairie Crosses, Prairie Voices"
evokes these stories: memories of the Germans from Russia, a frugal
and tenacious people whose blacksmiths used wagon-wheel rims and
scrap metal to fashion markers for their dead.
"Prairie Crosses, Prairie Voices" explains the traditional
iron art form that crossed continents and oceans, also survived
famine and war - to be reborn on the Great Plains of North America.
Dr. Timothy J. Kloberdanz, writer and narrator, states; "The
wrought iron grave crosses of the German-Russians - with their unbroken
hearts of metal, brightly painted stars, endless circles, banner-waving
angels, exquisitely-formed lilies, and rose blossoms that rust but
never wilt - evoke the defiant spirit of their mortal makers."
The videotape, "Recipes from Grandma's Kitchen: Germans from
Russia Food Traditions & Preparations", continues to be
popular. The NDSU Libraries and the Germans from Russia Cultural
Preservation Foundation has produced this videotape.
GRHC's newest published book is "Johnny Schmidt: Son of a
Dakota Pioneer" by B.A. Bose. This is a powerful memoir of
growing up in a pioneering family in South Dakota. The author shares
stores of the early 1900s about blizzards, country weddings, Christmas,
Easter, dry years, cream separator, farming, horsepower threshing,
first automobiles and telephones, and prairie fires.
Already in GRHC's fifth printing: "German Food & Folkways:
Heirloom Memories from Europe, South Russia & the Great Plains",
by Rose Marie Gueldner, Anamoose, ND, is available at this website:
or contact GRHC.
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), draw much viewer interest. Each videotape includes bonus
video footage not shown in the one-hour documentary. To purchase
these videotapes, contact GRHC.
Next year's Journey to the Homeland Tour to Odessa, Ukraine and
Stuttgart, Germany has been announced for May 20 - June 2, 2003.
This tour includes visits to the former Bessarabian, Black Sea and
Crimean German villages in southern Ukraine near the Black Sea.
Dr. Harley Roth, San Jose, CA, writes of his May, 2002 tour experience:
"It was a great trip. A trip that will impact my life forever.
I made great friends, met wonderful people, ate great food, visited
the most interesting places, formed the most endearing memories,
and found my roots!"
If you wish to have your e-mail address added to the Black Sea
Mail List at internet to receive current announcements and news
from the Germans from Russia Heritage Collection, send me an e-mail
For further information about Germans from Russia heritage, donations
to the Collection including family histories, books, notecards,
videotapes, cookbooks, and tours, contact Michael M. Miller, NDSU
Libraries, PO Box 5599, Fargo, ND 58105-5599 (Tel: 701-231-8416;
GRHC website: http://library.ndsu.edu/grhc).
November, 2002 column for North Dakota and South Dakota