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Michael M. Miller

Director and Bibliographer, M.Ed., M.S.
Germans from Russia Heritage Collection
North Dakota State University Libraries, Fargo

Executive Producer, Germans from Russia Documentary Series, Prairie Public Broadcasting

Deutsch | English | Portuguese | Russian | Spanish

North Dakota 2010 Heritage Honor Award

2008 Librarian of the Year Recipient

NDSU Libraries’ Germans from Russia Heritage Collection receives 2011 national awards

See the monthly column of In Touch with Prairie Living.

Biography

Michael Miller is the Director and Bibliographer of the Germans from Russia Heritage Collection as well as a member of the faculty and staff at the North Dakota State University Libraries since 1967.

Miller's higher education degrees are Bachelor of Science, (English, Journalism, Library Science) Valley City State University, Valley City, ND; Master of Science and Master of Education, (Library/ Media Education, Secondary Education) University of North Dakota, Grand Forks. Miller attended elementary and secondary schools in Strasburg, in south central North Dakota.

At the Valley City State University homecoming events in October 2002, Miller received the Award of Merit from the Alumni Association. In April 2003, Miller donated to the Allen Memorial Library, Valley City State University, a special collection of learning resources about the Germans from Russia including books, maps, and videotapes. In 1990, the Mountain Plains Library Association presented Miller with the Distinguished Service Award

The Johannes Baumgartner Story and Genealogy: Bicentennial Editon: 1774 - 1974 compiled by John J. Baumgartner, Jr., was published in 1974.

Michael Miller at the home of Leopoldo Bach with his accordion at Johannesdorf, near Lapa in southern Brazil, February 11, 2012. Leopoldo Bach was born on September 1, 1927. He will be interviewed in 2013 for the South American Germans from Russia television documentary.

University Room Address

Germans from Russia Heritage Collection Room 114C
1201 Albrecht Blvd
NDSU Libraries
PO Box 6050, Dept 2080
Fargo, ND 58108-6050

Library Phone
701-231-8416
Library Fax
701-231-7138
University E-mail

 

 

Marriage photo of Peter and Mary Baumgartner Miller, Strasburg, North Dakota.
Peter & Mary (Baumgartner) Miller Family: (l-r, back row): Donald (deceased); Ramona (deceased); Harold & Oswald (deceased); (l-r, front row): Pearl, Mary & Peter (deceased) & Michael. Circa late 1940s.

Ancestry of Michael's parents, Peter P. Miller & Mary M. Baumgartner, Strasburg, North Dakota

Peter P. Miller is the son of Peter & Agnes (Schreiner) Miller (Müller), born at the Catholic German village of Krasna, Bessarabia, South Russia (today Krasnoe, Ukraine). Peter & Agnes Miller immigrated from Bessarabia to Emmons County, ND, in 1894, settling in the Krasna area, west of Strasburg, ND. Mary Baumgartner is the daughter of Michael & Otillia (Wolf) Baumgartner. Michael & Otillia were born in the Black Sea Catholic village of Strassburg (Kutschurgan District), South Russia (today Kutschurgan, near Odessa, Ukraine), immigrating to Strasburg, ND, in 1889. The Peter Miller (Müller) Genealogy compiled by Michael M. Miller and Linda M. Haag, was published in 2008.

 

Family Heritage of Michael M. Miller

Michael son of Johannes Baumgartner, born September 5, 1874, died November 11, 1942; married on April 29, 1892, Otillia [nee Wolf], born on December 25, 1872, died on March 7, 1954, Strasburg, North Dakota

Children:

Eva Wikenheiser, April 29, 1893 - October 7, 1970
Michael, Jr., March 7, 1895 - January 23, 1969
Barbara Wikenheiser, May 17, 1897 - July 16, 1955
Margaret Klein, October 10, 1898 - deceased
Frank, July 22, 1902 - March 1, 1952
John, October 2, 1904 - January 13, 1974
Mary Miller, born August 28, 1907 - July 17, 1970
Philippine Berglund, March 23, 1910 - November 5, 2005
Agnes Wudtke, January 25, 1914 - February 10, 1975
Odelia Davis, June 11, 1917, - October 5, 1979
_____________________________

Peter P., son of Peter and Agnes [nee Schreiner] Miller, born on June 4, 1904, died on August 1, 1984; married Mary Baumgartner, born on August 28, 1907, died on July 17, 1970
Strasburg, North Dakota

Children:

Oswald, September 18, 1927 - March 8, 2006
Harold, September 21, 1929
Donald, April 3, 1936 - October 10, 1998
Pearl, June 15,1940 - November 7, 2003
Ramona Becker, December 22, 1937 - February 14, 1978
Michael, July 3, 1943

Growing up in a North Dakota German-Russian Community

Michael Miller's hometown of Strasburg was settled primarily by Catholic Black Sea German immigrants who came to south-central North Dakota in the 1880s from the former German villages near Odessa, Ukraine. His Müller grandparents immigrated to North Dakota in 1889 from the Catholic village of Krasna, Bessarabia. His Baumgartner grandparents immigrated to North Dakota from the Catholic village of Strassburg, Kutschurgan District, South Russia (today near Odessa, Ukraine).

Miller grew up speaking both English and German and became interested in the heritage, culture and history of his ancestors. An important focus throughout Miller's life and career has been the preservation and documentation of the rich heritage within the German-Russian community in North America.

Baumgartner Family

Circa late 1910s/early 1920s.

My grandparents, Michael & Otillia (Wolf) Baumgartner. Michael was born in 1874 and died in 1942. Otillia was born in 1872 and died in 1954. Married in 1892 at Strasburg, ND. For complete information, see the Johannes Baumgartner Story and Genealogy. Front row (l-r): Michael, Jr., Michael, Sr., Agnes, Philippine, Tillie, Odelia and Eva. Back row: Frank, Margaret, Barbara, John and Mary.

Another County Pioneer Passes: Michael Baumgartner, 68, Strasburg

The Michael and Otillia Wolf Baumgartner Family, Strasburg, ND, circa 1950s. Front row (l-r): Philippine, Odelia, Michael (father), Odellia (mother), Agnes, and Mary; Back row (l-r): Frank, Barbara, Michael, Margaret, John, and Eva.

Miller's hometown on the Dakota prairies became well-known, due to one of North Dakota's most famous native sons. Bandleader Lawrence Welk was born in a sod house on a farmstead near Strasburg homesteaded by his Catholic Black Sea German-Russian parents. Mr. Welk conducted America's most famous television orchestra, with The Lawrence Welk Show entertaining North American television audiences for 27 years. Miller's friendship with the Welk family in Strasburg led to locating the musical archives of Lawrence Welk, being donated to NDSU in 1993.

The Lawrence Welk Collection is housed at the NDSU Archives, North Dakota State University Libraries, Fargo. For further information, contact: ndsu.library.archives@ndsu.edu or 701-231-8914.

Journey to the Homeland: Odessa, Ukraine and Stuttgart, Germany, 1996 - 2013

He has directed 19 annual tours for educating Americans and Canadians of German-Russian heritage to their former ancestral German villages in Ukraine and Moldova beginning in May, 1996 to May 2013. The 1997 tour also included viewing cultural treasures of Russia in St. Petersburg.

Producing the Germans from Russia Award-Winning Documentaries

In February, 1999, Prairie Public Television, Fargo, North Dakota, premiered the 60-minute award-winning television documentary, The Germans from Russia: Children of the Steppe, Children of the Prairie. The program received a wonderful response from throughout North America. The documentary received the prestigious Silver Telly Award from the Center for Creativity. Executive producers of the program were Bob Dambach, director of television at Prairie Public Broadcasting, and Michael M. Miller.

In March, 2000, Prairie Public TV premiered a television documentary on the foodways and recipes of the Germans from Russia culture brought to the central and northern plains of North America: Schmeckfest: Food Traditions of the Germans from Russia.

In September, 2002, Prairie Public Television premiered Prairie Crosses, Prairie Voices: Iron Crosses of the Great Plains. Miller was pleased to be an executive producer of the third videotape documentary of the Germans from Russia Series. For filming and interviews, the crew traveled in the Dakotas, western Kansas, and southern Saskatchewan.

In April, 2005, Prairie Public Television premiered the a documentary A Soulful Sound: Music of the Germans from Russia. This is the fourth in the "Germans from Russia" documentary series. The concert choirs of the University of Mary, Bismarck, ND, and Jamestown College, Jamestown, ND, were cooperating partners with the music documentary.

In July, 2006, the 30-minute documentary premiered, We'll Meet Again in Heaven. This program is a searing chronicle of a forgotten genocide and a lost people. The lost people are the ethnic German minority living in Soviet Ukraine, who wrote their American relatives about the starvation, forced labor, and execution that were almost daily fare in Soviet Ukraine during this period of 1928 to 1938.

In July, 2010, It's All Earth and Sky, premiered. It's All Earth and Sky was the reaction of one German-Russian immigrant when she arrived on the plains of the midwest. Like many others who came to the region seeking a land of promise and opportunity, she and her family endured...and prevailed...on this rich, expansive landscape.

In this documentary, five representative Germans from Russia, who have attained success and stability, share their insights on the process of becoming American. Arthur E. Flegel is the founder of a successful furniture store in Menlo Park, California; Debra Marquart is a creative writer and a professor at Iowa State University, Ames, Iowa; Al Neuharth lives in Cocoa Beach, Florida, and is a journalist and founder of USA Today; Henry S. Schmick of Cheyenne, Wyoming, is a cattle raiser, beet farmer, helicopter mechanic, and a member of the National Guard; and Brian Schweitzer is a rancher, soil scientist, and governor of the state of Montana.

In February, 2012, Bob Dambach, director of television, Prairie Public Broadcasting, and Michael Miller, traveled to Argentina and Brazil to begin work on a new television documentary on the story of the Germans from Russia in South America. Prairie Public videographers.

Michael Miller shared: “The days in Argentina and Brazil in February, 2012, were truly amazing and unforgettable. I was impressed how I could speak in the German language with many people. There are wonderful comparisons of the German-Russian foods and recipes including Kuchen. The cemeteries featured the beautiful wrought-iron crosses similar to what we see in central North Dakota.”

 In April, 2013, Michael Miller traveled with Bob Dambach, director of television, Ben Stommes & Dave Geck, videographers , of Prairie Public Broadcasting, to southern Brazil for the final filming and interviews. They completed interviews in the states of Parana, Santa Catarina and Rio Grande du Sol with persons of Bessarabian, Mennonite, Volhynian and Volga German ancestry.

From 22 September to 17 October, 2013, Michel Miller traveled with Bob Dambach, director of television, Barb Gravel & Dave Grant, videographers, to Argentina for final filming and interviews in the states of Buenos Aires, Entre Rios and La Pampa. They interviewed persons with Black Sea, Mennonite and Volga German heritage.

This 8th documentary of the award-winning “Germans from Russia Series” of Prairie Public Broadcasting – www.prairiepublic.org– the story of the Germans from Russia in South America – Argentina and Brazil, will premiere on Wednesday, 15 July 2015 at the Heritage Center, Bismarck, North Dakota, at the beginning of the 45th Germans from Russia Heritage Society International Convention (15-19 July 2015 – www.grhs.org. Further information including articles and photographs is at http://library.ndsu.edu/grhc/outreach/documentaries/sadocumentary.html. The Germans from Russia documentary series is at http://library.ndsu.edu/grhc/order/tapes/prairieindex.html.

In the late 19th century and early 20th century, many Germans from Russia immigrated to South America, specially to Argentina and southern Brazil many with Volga German heritage. At the same time, other German-Russian families immigrated to North and South Dakota, the central and northern plains, and western Canada. As a result, many of these German-Russian families in Argentina and Brazil has relatives in Canada and the United States.

From their April, 2013 filming in southern Brazil, Prairie Public Television videographers write: Ben Stommes – “The people we encountered were incredibly friendly and welcoming. It was a great please to work on the project, especially in such a unique setting.” Dave Geck – “There were times I thought, are we in Brazil or are we back home on the prairie of Dakota? The people were genuine and welcoming , and I found it amazing that their first language in many cases is still German. I felt right at home!”

In July, 2012 premiered At Home in Russia, at Home on the Prairie telling the story of the Kutchurganers. The life they led in South Russia and their life after journeying to the prairies of North America. The stories are told by the descendants of these pioneers. Msgr. Joseph Senger, Christina Gross Jundt, Helen Fiest Krumm, Adam Giesinger, Fr. Thomas Welk, Theresa Kuntz Bachmeier, Barbara Schneider Risling, Ron Yolk, Colleen Zeiler, Debra Marquart, Mary Ebach, Clara Ebach.

Family members are not just forces in life but take their shape through historical time and in geographical place. Prairie Public and the NDSU Libraries’ Germans from Russia Heritage Collection, place one’s own family story in a wider human narrative of what it means to be a German from Russia today. The documentary as an audible and visual museum of one emotional and intellectual place, the Kutschurgan Valley in Russia, as the intersection of memory and place, a foundation of many shared and common memories for those of us in the Northern Plains and western Canadian prairie provinces.

The documentary, “At Home in Russia, at Home on the Prairie”, received the Platinum Best of Show Award from the Aurora Awards in the Historical Category. This is the highest award for a television documentary presented by the Aurora Awards and is one of twenty-seven to receive this award in 2012 in the USA.

Dakota Memories Oral History Interview Project

The Dakota Memories Oral History Interview Project (2005-2009) began in the spring of 2005 in cooperation with the Department of History at North Dakota State University. For further information, visit: www.ndsu.edu/grhc/dakotamemories

Photographer

Michael Miller's photography interests have developed into a rewarding experience that has enriched his life. He has developed many global friendships by traveling to do photography in North America and other international locations.

His olympic and photographic experiences include the following Olympic Games: 1984 Los Angeles, California; 1988 Seoul, Korea; 1988 Calgary, Alberta; 1992 Albertville, France; 1992 Barcelona, Spain; 1994 Lillehammer, Norway; 1996 Atlanta, Georgia; and 2002 Salt Lake City, Utah. Miller has photographed at these World Wrestling Championships: Edmonton, Alberta; Skopje, Yugoslavia; and Atlanta and San Diego, California. His photographs from the 1984 Los Angeles Summer Olympics were included in a 1986 calendar published by Knight Printing, Fargo, North Dakota.
Michael M. Miller and Bob Dambach, standing in a wheat field near the former German village of Elsass, Kutschurgan District (today Kherbanka), June 2, 1999. Miller and Dambach are co-producers of the documentary, "The Germans from Russia: Children of the Steppe, Children of the Prairie."
Bob Dambach, director of television, Prairie Public Broadcasting, and Michael Miller, standing by wrought-iron cross at the Catholic Cemetery near San Jose (St. Joseph), one of the three Volga German settlements near Coronel Suarez, south of Buenos Aires, Argentina, February 18, 2012. They were in Argentina and Brazil to begin work on a new television documentary on the story of the Germans from Russia in South America to premiere in 2014.

Professional Memberships


Permission to use any images from the GRHC website may be requested by contacting Michael M. Miller
North Dakota State University Libraries
Germans from Russia Heritage Collection
Libraries
NDSU Dept #2080
PO Box 6050
Fargo, ND 58108-6050
Tel: 701-231-8416
Fax: 701-231-6128
Last Updated:
Director: Michael M. Miller
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