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.
We are pleased to announce the following public programs in these
North Dakota communities called the Dakota Memories Oral History
Project: 1) October 30, 2005, Wishek: St. Luke's Lutheran Church
107 Centennial Street South, 2 pm; 2) November 13, 2005, Gackle:
American Legion Hall, Main Street, 2 pm. The programs are free and
open to the general public, and are sponsored by the North Dakota
Humanities Council, the NDSU Development Foundation, and the NDSU
Program participants will be: Jessica Clark, coordinator of the
project; Tom Isern, NDSU Department of History; Kimberly Porter,
UND Department of History; and Michael Miller, NDSU Libraries. For
further information, go to the GRHC website at "Oral History
Jessica Clark writes: "Every interview has been enlightening
and full of wonderful childhood memories. I have thoroughly enjoyed
meeting and visiting with everyone in the Streeter, Gackle Ashley
and Wishek areas. I have learned a lot about growing up German-Russian
in North Dakota through a variety of childhood memories and different
At these programs, we will share their childhood and other memories
of the interviewees.
NDSU graduate LaVern Freeh has written his memoirs with the new
book, "Child of the Prairie, Man of the World", just published
by GRHC. Freeh grew up in a German-Russian family near Harvey, speaking
German and English in his youth while attending a country school.
Ione Kolbe Tebelius, Harvey High School English teacher from 1940-1944
writes: "LaVern Freeh always made my English classes very interesting
and entertaining with his original interpretation of what the author
was writing. These tellings are evident in his book."
Ronald Roskens, former University of Nebraska president writes:
"A humble son of the soil, recounts with candor, compassion,
and clarity, his fascinating journey from the modest beginnings
to prominence as an architect of the Global Village."
GRHC has published Duane Stabler's new book, "Researcher's
Guide to McPherson County, South Dakota Cemeteries", which
summarizes information form over 100 family plots, gravesites and
cemeteries. McPherson County was a key destination for many immigrants
from South Russia to settle in the Dakotas. The book contains a
historical overview, photo postcards, names and locations of cemeteries,
data of individuals, buried and maps to the cemetery or gravesite.
Stabler writes: "This book was an idea that stemmed from my
visit to my Great Grandparents gravesite at the Neudorf Cemetery,
McPherson County. It was then that I realized that information about
these ancestors, buried in gravesites throughout McPherson County,
needed to be recorded."
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 with 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).
October, 2005 column for North Dakota and South Dakota