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.
My thanks to the many people who visited the GRHC information tables
at the centennials at Gackle and Fredonia, ND. We were most impressed
with the interest about the history, culture, foodways, and folkways
of the Germans from Russia. We look forward to the Streeter, ND
Centennial for July 1-3, 2005.
The month of July was most memorable with the four Ukrainians from
Odessa visiting North Dakota including the Germans from Russia Heritage
Society Convention at Bismarck, NDSU and Fargo. I traveled to Modesto,
California, for the American Historical Society of Germans from
Russia Convention earlier in July. Then I traveled with the Ukrainians
to Salt Lake City where we visited the Family History Library and
Archives. The Ukrainians were impressed with the warm and friendly
hospitality shared by Dakotans. We visited south central North Dakota
including German-Russian churches and cemeteries with the wrought-iron
crosses. The overnight stay at the historic Lehr Tabernacle Campgrounds
was a wonderful experience. Our thanks to State Senator Robert and
Susan Erbele for their warm hospitality.
GRHC has published a new book, "The Last Link: Dakota Territory,
Logan County 1887 - Old North Dakota Memories & The Weispfennings
& Muellers: Our Early American Experiences in Dakota Territory",
by Thomas G. Mueller, Jamestown, native of Napoleon, ND. Mueller
shares: "While I was writing my family history story, `The
Last Link', I realized that I had hundreds of stories I could tell,
especially about my time spent on my Aunt Hulda and Uncle Martin
Ehmann's farm, southeast of Gackle, ND.
The author includes: 1) the clay brick house; 2) farming the old
fashioned way; 3) stacking hay on the prairie; 4) shocking oats
in the 1950s; 5) receiving the German Brauche; 6) Otto & Mathilda's
wedding dinner; 6) the flat white cooking rock; and 7) Gravewitching
for Great Uncle Joahnn Weispfenning."The Last Link" is
available by contacting GRHC or go to library.ndsu.edu/grhc/order/nd_sd/mueller.html.
The 11th Journey to the Homeland Tour sponsored by the NDSU Libraries
to Odessa, Ukraine and Stuttgart, Germany is scheduled for May 26
- June 6, 2005.
GRHC has published an important new cookbook, "Cookbook for
the Germans from Russia", by Nelly Daes, translated from German
to English by Alex Herzog, and edited by Janice Huber Stangl who
writes: "This book contains not only recipes, but also humorous
and heart- wrenching anecdotes from the German Russian diaspora.
It is essential addition to every household." The new cookbook
is available at: library.ndsu.edu/grhc/order/cookbooks/das.html,
or contact GRHC.
The award-winning documentary videotapes, "The Germans from
Russia: Children of the Steppe, Children of the Prairie" (1999);
"Schmeckfest: Food Traditions of the Germans from Russia"
(2000); and "Prairie Crosses, Prairie Voices: Iron Crosses
of the Great Plains" (2002) 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 Germans from Russia music documentary now in production will
premiere in March, 2005 on Prairie Public Television. Filming will
be done on September 9 at the Blueroom, Strasburg, ND beginning
at 9 pm including a dance with the Marv Zander Band of Mandan and
accordionist Victor Schwan of Bismarck, and Strasburg native. The
event is free and open to the public sponsored by Prairie Public
Television. Prairie Public will film also in September in Colorado
relating to the music of the Volga Germans. The concert choirs of
the University of Mary, Bismarck, and Jamestown College, ND, are
closely involved with the production of this 4th documentary in
the "Germans from Russia Series of Prairie Public Broadcasting.
For further information about Germans from Russia heritage, donations
to GRHC including books, videotapes, cookbooks, and tours, contact
Michael M. Miller, NDSU Libraries, PO Box 5599, Fargo, ND 58105-5599
(Tel: 701-231-8416; E-mail: email@example.com;
GRHC website: library.ndsu.edu/grhc).
August, 2004 column for North Dakota and South Dakota newspapers.