In Touch with Prairie Living
By Michael M. Miller
Germans from Russia Heritage Collection
North Dakota State University Libraries, Fargo
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.
We are pleased to announce the "Recipe Index Search"
available for use at the GRHC website. The search includes recipe
titles from a variety of ethnic backgrounds,such as Bessarabian,
Black Sea, German, Russian, Ukrainian, Mennonite, Hutterite, Volga,
Crimean, and the Northern and Central Plains of the USA. The cookbook
title, recipe category, recipe name, page number, and person who
submitted the recipe are available through this search.
Kristi Krebs Brink, NDSU Public History major and GRHC student
employee, writes: While indexing, I found a recipe for Homemade
Cottage Cheese for Strudel from my grandmother, Charlotte Dobitz
Krebs, New England, ND. This search will help anyone looking to
find a specific recipe title, including which cookbooks contain
Tom Isern, Professor of History at NDSU, writes in his weekly "Plains
Talk" column of January 23, 2003: "If you need to rustle
up some German-Russian cuisine at home, let me draw your attention
to a new service offered by the Germans from Russia Heritage Collection
(GRHC) at NDSU. It's an amazing recipe index providing references
to the cookbooks offered for sale by GRHC. A search for Kuchen produces
GRHC has recently published, "Through the German Colonies
of the Beresan District and Colonist Tales", translated from
German to English by Dr. Roland Wagner, San Jose State University,
a native of the Dickinson ND area. Many families from the former
Beresan District villages, today located near Odessa, Ukraine, immigrated
to central and western North Dakota. Wagner writes: "Nuggets
of information can be gleam from Bachmann's writings about the conditions
of life in the German colonies during the early Soviet era. The
consumption of sunflower seeds and watermelons figure prominently
in Bachmann's stories at various points".
GRHC has published this new book, "Gottlob Lerch: A Story"
By F.B. Urban, translated from German to English. Gottlob Lerch
was a simple, hard-working man who immigrated from the Kuban Region
of the Russian Empire to the plains of North Dakota to make a new
life for himself and his family. Ingeborg Wallner Smith, the translator,
writes: "This is a homesteading story with a twist. This homesteader
is not only an immigrant from Russia, but is the descendant of the
German farmers invited to Russia by Catherine the Great. Lerch was
a proud countryman, massive and gnarled like an oak. He could count
up his forefathers unto the fifth generation, and was convinced
that man's destiny was to cultivate the land and to preserve it."
GRHC has published its third new book by Ronald J. Vossler, freelance
writer and a faculty member at UND, Grand Forks: "Lost Shawls
and Pig Spleens: Folklore, Anecdotes, and Humor of the Germans from
Russia". The book is a companion to, "Not Until the Combine
is Paid and Other Jokes from the Oral Traditions of the Germans
from Russia in the Dakotas", published by GRHC in 2001.
In cooperation with the Germans from Russia Cultural Preservation
a new videotape, "Reflections with Monsignor Joseph Senger"
is available. A native of Orrin, ND, Monsignor Senger, Minot, shares
his childhood, farm life, and religious life, as a son of German-Russian
immigrants. He shares his story of the emotional and unforgettable
visit in May 2001 to southern Ukraine and his ancestral German villages.
Prairie Public's "Prairie Crosses, Prairie Voices: Iron Crosses
of the Great Plains" is receiving a terrific 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
The videotape, "Recipes from Grandma's Kitchen: Germans from
Russia Food Traditions & Preparations" Volume I, continues
to be popular. The NDSU Libraries and the Germans from Russia Cultural
Preservation Foundation has produced this videotape. Volume II of
this videotape series will be available in the fall of 2003.
Now in GRHC's fifth printing since February 2002: "German
Food & Folkways: Heirloom Memories from Europe, South Russia
& the Great Plains", by Rose Marie Gueldner, Anamoose,
ND, is available. Additional cookbooks are available at the GRHC
website from the Mertz Family, Haymarsh (near Glen Ullin, ND), and
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 draw much viewer interest, and have been shown
on many PBS stations. Each videotape includes bonus video footage
not shown in the one-hour documentary.
The Journey to the Homeland Tour to Odessa, Ukraine and Stuttgart,
Germany is 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.
For further information about Germans from Russia heritage, donations
to the Collection including family histories, books, notecards,
videotapes, cookbooks, tours, and the new Recipe Index Search, 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).
March, 2003 column for North Dakota and South Dakota