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.
On 24 May, I leave with our 11th Journey to the Homeland Tour
group for Odessa, Ukraine and the former German villages. Tour members
with Bessarabian and Black Sea German ancestry from Florida, Maryland,
North Dakota, South Carolina, Washington and Washington will visit
her homeland villages including Baden, Elsass, Kandel, Mannheim,
Selz & Strassburg (Kutschurgan District); Bergdorf, Glueckstal,
Hoffnungstal, Kassel, Neu Kassel & Neudorf (Glueckstal District);
Albota, Beresina, Hoffnungstal, Sarata & Teplitz, Bessarabia.
We are in Budapest, Hungary; Odessa, Ukraine; Stuttgart, Germany
and Alsace, France. We will be sending e-mail messages from Odessa
and Stuttgart of our visits to the homeland villages and tour experiences.
The new DVD and performance CD, "A
Soulful Sound: Music of the Germans from Russia" which
premiered on Prairie Public TV in April, is now available. In the
18th and early 19th centuries, thousands of German-speaking peoples
established major German settlements in Russia, first along the
Volga River in the north, and secondly along the Black Sea in South
Russia and nearby Bessarabia. Eventually, many migrated yet again,
this time to North and South America. Throughout their travels,
these Germans now Germans from Russia maintained their traditional
religious music, their lullabies and folk songs,their vocal and
instrumental music alike.
Sound" blends expert commentary with performances of traditional
music from regional talent including St. Andrew's Lutheran Church
Centennial Choir, University of Mary and Jamestown College concert
choirs, Young People's Hutterite Singers, Alive Gospel Choir, Centennial
Men's Choir, and the Napoleon area folk singers. Singers featured
included Maria Appelhans, Rosalinda Kloberdanz, John J. Gross, Tony
Wangler, Robert Erbele and Ron Volk. Enjoy Marv Zander and Victor
Schwahn and their bands as they perform accordion music and recreate
a traditional wedding reception at the Blue Room in Strasburg, ND.
Prairie Public has also produced a music CD, "John
J. Gross: Folk Songs Sung by the Germans from Russia".
When John was four or five years old, his father would play the
pump organ and sing folk songs while his mother was sewing clothes
for his thirteen children. John would often fall asleep listening
to his father. John learned tosing and playing by ear, and is still
performing German-Russian folk music today at the age of 80.
There was a tremendous response to the premieres of this documentary
in April at Bismarck, Jamestown and Fargo. Prairie Public TV's broadcast
premiere was well received and many positive comments. Be watching
for the music documentary later in 2005 on other PBS stations in
The music documentary is the fourth in the "Germans from Russia
Series". Previous documentaries are: 1)
"The Germans from Russia: Children of the Steppe, Children
of the Prairie" (1999); 2) "Schmeckfest:
Food Traditions of the Germans from Russia" (2000); 3)
Prairie Voices: Iron Crosses of the Great Plains" (2002).
The new "Music of
the Germans from Russia" CD of the Jamestown College (ND)
Concert Choir is available. Music which defined religious faith
and culture of the German-Russian population, traveled with them
when they left Russia to settle the North American prairies and
I am pleased to announce that I will be attending the following
events: 1) Streeter,
ND Centennial, Museum on main street (former Drug Store), Friday,
July 1 (1-6 pm) & Saturday, July 2 (10 am-4 pm); 2) McClusky
ND Centennial, City Hall, 117B Avenue East, Friday, July 8 (1-5
pm) & Saturday, July 9 (10 am-4 pm); 3) St. Luke Lutheran Church
Centennial, Wishek, ND Civic Center, Saturday, July 16 (1-5 pm)
& Sunday, July 17 (11am-3 pm). I look forward to my visits in
July to Streeter, McClusky and Wishek. Exhibits featuring photographs
be on display as well as information tables about the Germans from
Russia history, culture and foodways.
Prairie Public Broadcasting has produced a new DVD which includes
these two award-winning documentaries: "The Germans from Russia:
Children of the Steppe, Children of the Prairie" and "Prairie
Crosses, Prairie Voices: Iron Crosses of the Great Plains. For further
information, go to library.ndsu.edu/grhc/order/tapes/dualdvd.html.
The Germans from Russia Heritage Society Convention is July 14-17,
2005, Ramkota Hotel, Pierre, SD (www.grhs.org).
The American Historical Society of Germans from Russia Convention
is July 17-21, 2005, Westin Inn, Oklahoma City (www.ahsgr.org).
The Festival of Germans from Russia is September 23-25, 2005, Medicine
GRHC has published the new book, "Prairie
Churches of Bon Homme County, Dakota Territory: A Varicolored Tunic".
Maxine Schuurmans Kinsley's work presents a valuable contribution
to the historical publications for the era of Dakota Territory.
Bonn Homme County, located in south central South Dakota, is important
in the history and culture of the first German-Russians settlements
in Dakota Territory.
The 12th Journey to
the Homeland Tour, sponsored by the NDSU Libraries is scheduled
for late May/early June, 2006. The tour includes Budapest, Hungary;
Odessa, Ukraine and the former German villages; Stuttgart, Germany;
and Alsace, France. The tour will include attending the large gathering
of the Germans from Russia called the Russlanddeutschen Bundestreffen.
For further information about Germans from Russia heritage, donations
to GRHC including books, documentaries, CDs, DVDs, 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).
May, 2005 column for North Dakota and South Dakota