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.
The new DVD and performance CD, "A Soulful Sound: Music of
the Germans from Russia" which premiered on Prairie Public
TV in April, are 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.
"A Soulful 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, Harvey area Centennial Men's Choir, and the Napoleon/Kintyre
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 produced a music CD, "John J. Gross: Folk
Songs Sung by the Germans from Russia". When John was four
and five years old, his father would play the pump organ and sing
folk songs while his mother was sewing clothes for their thirteen
children. John would often fall asleep listening to his father.
John learned to sing and play by ear, and is still performing German-Russian
folk music today at the age of 80.
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 Crosses, Prairie Voices: Iron Crosses of
the Great Plains" (2002).
The "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
I am pleased to announce that I will be attending the following
events: 1) Kinzler Family Reunion, Saturday, June 18 (1:30-4:30
pm), Gladstone Hotel, Jamestown, ND; 2) Streeter, ND Centennial,
Museum on main street (former Drug Store), Friday, July 1 (1-6 pm)
& Saturday, July 2 (10 am-4 pm); 3) McClusky ND Centennial,
City Hall, 117B Avenue East, Friday, July 8 (1-5 pm) & Saturday,
July 9 (10 am-4 pm); 4) 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 June and July to Jamestown,
Streeter, McClusky and Wishek. Exhibits featuring photographs will
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 August 14-21, 2005, Sheraton Hotel, 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
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: firstname.lastname@example.org;
GRHC website: library.ndsu.edu/grhc).
June, 2005 column for North Dakota and South Dakota
to use any images from the GRHC website may be requested
by contacting Michael