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 Germans from Russia
as an important part of the northern plains culture.
I want to express my thanks for the warm hospitality and many kindnesses
with our GRHC outreach programs in June and July at McClusky, Streeter,
Wishek and Zeeland, ND.I look forward to attending the Festival
of Germans from Russia is September 23-25, 2005, Medicine Hat, Alberta.
The Medicine Hat area today has many families of Bessarabian and
Black Sea German ancestry.
We want to thank persons in south central North Dakota who participated
as interviewees for the Dakota Memories Oral History Project sponsored
by GRHC during May, June and July. Jessica Clark, coordinator of
the project, and Will Clark, videographer, were most pleased with
the warm hospitality and wonderful childhood stories shared by the
interviewees. Jessica is the Theresa Mack Germans from Russia History
Doctoral Fellow at the NDSU Libraries for 2005-2006. For further
information, go to the GRHC website at "Oral History Project".
Jessica Clark writes: "Every interview has been enlightening
and full of wonderful childhood memories. I have thoroughly enjoy
meeting and visiting with everyone in the Streeter, Gackle and Ashley
areas. I have learned a lot about growing up German-Russian in North
Dakota through a variety of childhood memories and different perspectives.
Will and I are truly excited about this project and are most appreciative
of everyone's support and interest. We are looking forward to our
trip to the Wishek, Linton and Edgeley areas of south central North
Dakota for additional interviews. Again, thank you!".
GRHC has published this new book, "Graf - Buck Family Heritage:
Photographs and Memories of Streeter, North Dakota". Katherine
Westine writes: "As a child, I loved the Old World feeling
of things in my grandmother's and aunts' houses: the feather beds,
the plachts (woven blankets with dark and deep colors), the old
Edison phonograph with the many cylinders, and especially the food
(Strudel, Kaese Knopf, Kuchen, Kuchen, and sausage). My grandmother
would always spoil us by letting us eat a bit of the dough before
the Strudels were put into the kettle."
In July of 2001, David, Katherine and Philip Westine donated to
GRHC from the estate of their mother, Gertrude Buck Westine, what
is now the article "Ludwig and Christina Graf Buck Collection".
After reviewing this valuable gift including the family history,
photographs, recipes and letters, the idea of a publication was
developed and became reality. The book includes the old family recipes
of Wilhelmina "Minnie" Buck and of Katie Graf Knalson.
The book's section, "The Story of the Told by the Mittleider
Letters", were written in Blumenfeld (Caucasus) in 1929 and
1930. They reveal the tragedy of the Russian German farmers in the
Soviet Union in a most dramatic sequence.
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 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.
The 12th Journey to the Homeland Tour, sponsored by the NDSU Libraries
is scheduled for May 23 - June 2, 2006. The tour includes Budapest,
Hungary; Odessa, Ukraine and the former German villages; Stuttgart,
Germany; and Alsace, France.
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).
August, 2005 column for North Dakota and South Dakota newspapers.