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 look forward to meeting our Germans from Russia community in Lincoln,
Nebraska, during the American Historical Society of Germans from
The Dakota Memories Oral History Project continues in 2006. Interviews
were conducted in May in the Linton/Strasburg/Venturia area; in
July at Rugby and Saskatchewan; and August in the Kulm/Lehr/Wishek
area of North Dakota. Persons interviewed included family names
of Bender, Brossart, Degenstein, Ebach, Eckroth, Engelhardt, Klein,
Kraft, Pressler, Rost, Schall, Schwab, Sehn, Vetter, Wald, Weber,
A grant was received from the Embassy of Canada to complete interviews
in July of German-Russians in central Saskatchewan with family roots
to North Dakota. Saskatchewan locations include Allan/Kronau/Regina/Saskatoon
area as well as the Tramping Lake/Luseland/Unity area. Family names
interviewed include: Bertsch, Boechler, Fermer, Herauf, Hoffart,
Jahner, Leippi, Keen, Kohlman, Krismer, Lang, LaTurnas, Miere, Riehl,
Sebastian, Sellinger, and Zeiler.
We designed this project to document the heritage and culture of
the German-Russians. This project focuses on childhood memories
and family relationships, specifically, what it was like growing
up German-Russian on the northern plains. For further information,
go to library.ndsu.edu/grhc/dakotamemories/index.html.
The 2005 interviews are available from GRHC on DVD. They include
31 interviews, including more than 60 hours of video. For more information,
go to: library.ndsu.edu/grhc/dakotamemories/order/index.html.
Family names for these interviews include: Aberle, Boschee, Brosy,
Buck, Dewald, Dockter, Fercho, Fischer, Hartmann, Herman, Heyne,
Hoerter, Janke, Kasemen, Kauk, Kleingartner, Klundt, Long, Meidinger,
Mueller, Miller, Presler, Schaffer, Schlecht, Schott, and Zimmerman.
Sarah Lacher, NDSU history graduate student and interviewer, who
traveled to south central North Dakota this summer, stated: "The
Dakota Memories Oral History Project has been a wonderful learning
experience for me. Hearing and seeing each narrator's memories has
helped me to learn about my own heritage. Narrators may have been
shocked that I said the interview may be three hours, but once we
were rolling the memories kept pouring out, along with the occasional
shot of redeye. Needless to say, each narrator was extremely welcoming
to the videographer and me, often sharing German Russian lunches
with us. Each narrator help me to learn more about what it would
have been like for my grandfather, dad, and uncle growing up near
Venturia, ND. I had an amazing experience in the Linton, Strasburg,
Kulm, Lehr, and Wishek area."
I am pleased to announce a new one-half hour documentary, "We'll
Meet Again in Heaven" funded by GRHC. The scholar and narrator
is Ronald Vossler, UND, Grand Forks. Vossler guides the viewer from
the small North Dakota town where he found the first letter, down
the "blood-dark corridor of ethnic history" to former
German villages in Ukraine and Moldova that were the source of numerous
immigrants to the American prairie frontier.
These wrenching personal letters, along with compelling, survivor
interviews, detail an odyssey of hunger and destruction in Soviet
Ukraine. Based on a decade of research, including on-location footage
in Ukraine and Moldova, this film draws upon hundreds of personal
letters, written from German villages in Ukraine to the Dakotas,
and brought in public attention for the first time. To order this
new documentary, contact GRHC.
Prairie Public Broadcasting has produced the DVD, "Germans
from Russia Food Pantry"
which combines three award-winning public television favorites that
have been broadcast throughout North America. Enjoy "Schmeckfest:
Food Traditions of the Germans from Russia" and "Recipes
from Grandma's Kitchen: Food Preparations and Traditions of the
Germans from Russia, Volume I and II". The DVD documentary
and performance CD, "A Soulful Sound: Music of the Germans
from Russia" are available.
Also, Prairie Public Broadcasting has produced a 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 Festival of Germans from Russia, is October 13-15, at Leader,
Saskatchewan. The American Historical Society of Germans from Russia
Convention is June 11-16, 2007, Holiday Inn, Hays, KS (www.ahsgr.org);
the Germans from Russia Heritage Society Convention is July 19-22,
2007, Ramkota Hotel, Bismarck, ND (www.grhs.org).
The dates in June, 2007 for the 13th Journey to the Homeland Tour
will be announced later.
For further information about Germans from Russia heritage, Dakota
Memories Oral History Project, donations to GRHC including books,
events, documentaries, CDs, DVDs, cookbooks and the May, 2007 tour,
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, 2006 column for North Dakota and South Dakota