Major Contributions


Marie Rudel Portner Germans from Russia Endowment

The Marie Rudel Portner Germans from Russia Endowment of $1.1 million dollars was established in May, 2000. The endowment honors the ethnic heritage, family traditions and values represented by her parents, Simon and Dorothea Weber Rudel.

Click here to learn more about Marie Rudel Portner

Other Major Contributions

Valentine & Alice (Walter) Brossart

A $5,000 gift was given by Alice (Walter) Brossart and family in memory of husband and father, Valentine F. Brossart who passed away January 3, 2008. Valentine was a member of the 2005 Journey to the Homeland Tour to Ukraine and Germany, sponsored by the NDSU Libraries. He was interviewed with the Dakota Memories Oral History Project in 2007.

Valentine Brossart’s mother, Elizabeth (Voeller), was born in 1892 in Selz, Russia and emigrated with her family when she was 17 years old to the Rugby, ND area where she spent the rest of her life. Valentine’s father, Frank Brossart, was born in a 12x20 sod house in 1893 near Hague, ND. His parents also from Selz, South Russia (near present day Odessa, Ukraine) homesteaded two years earlier.

Alice (Walter) Brossart’s father, Frank Walter, emigrated with his family when he was four-years old from Kandel, South Russia (near present day Odessa, Ukraine) and her mother Catherine (Abel) Brossart was born in 1900 near St. Michael in Emmons County, North Dakota. Both of Alice’s parents spent all their lives in the Karlsruhe, ND area.

The Brossart's have nine children, six boys and three girls. Four children have graduated from North Dakota State University: Ronald (Class of 1973), Richard (Class of 1975), David (Class of 1980) and Carol (Class of 1983).

Click here to visit Valentine’s DMOHP narrator profile.

Click here to view photographs from the 2005 Journey to the Homeland Tour.

Related Books:
Brossart, Harold. The Brossart Family History: 1800-1989. [Available at GRHC, NDSU Library, Fargo, North Dakota; call number: CS71.B8747 1990]


Walter and Alice Riedlinger Essig Collection

Alice was born on March 30, 1911, in rural McClusky, North Dakota, to Chris and Ida (Wahl) Riedlinger. She lived in McClusky as a child with her family and later moved to Washburn. She passed away February 1997.

Alice married Walter K. Essig in McClusky on June 24, 1931. In 1933, they moved to the Essig family homestead in the Lincoln Valley area. Walter and Alice moved to Bismarck in 1974. They were married over 61 years and had four children.

Alice was one of the original founders of the Germans from Russia Heritage Society, and worked many years in its headquarters office. Alice was able to help many people with their family research and translation of German documents.

The Essig books donated to the GRHC are unique and contain her marginal notations with facts verified firsthand.

Click here to learn more about Alice Riedlinger Essig

Click here to view additional photos relating to the Walter and Alice (Riedlinger) Essig Collection


Calvin Fercho Germans from Russia Research Stipend

The Calvin Fercho Germans from Russia Research Stipend is a fund designed to collect and preserve the history and heritage of the Germans from Russia. This can be used to collect oral histories, process archival material, photographs, or textiles (or all of the above). The stipend provides NDSU students opportunities in historic preservation and documentation of the Germans from Russia.

Click here to visit Calvin Fercho's Dakota Memories page

Click here to read about Calvin Fercho's honorary doctorate at NDSU.


Dr. LaVern "Vern" Freeh

Dr. LaVern "Vern" Freeh, a native of Harvey, ND and 1951 NDSU graduate, presented a donation of $6,500 for publication of the book, Couldn't Be Better: The Russian Farm Community Project, published by GRHC in 2000. Proceeds from this book is donated equally by Dr. Freeh to GRHC and the Russian Farm Community Project.

In September, 2005, Dr. LaVern Freeh, authored the book, Child of the Prairie, Man of the World. Dr. Freeh provided all of the funding to publish the book. He has designated that the income from the book will be donated to the following: 1) The Freeh Family Football Scholarship, Athletic Department, NDSU; and 2) The Dakota Memories Oral History Interview Project, Germans from Russia Heritage Collection, NDSU Libraries.

Click here to learn more about Dr. LaVern "Vern" Freeh

Dr. LaVern “Vern” Freeh Memorial Fund


Margaret (Aman) and Robert Freeman Publication Fund of the Glueckstal Colonies Research Association

GCRA has established a publication fund in honor of Margaret (Aman) and Robert Freeman in recognition of their significant role in the founding of GCRA in 1987 and their many years of support for all of its efforts. The Fund will exist as a special account at the Germans from Russia Heritage Collection at North Dakota State University Libraries in Fargo, and will be utilized only to provide financial support for future publications of GCRA.

Margaret (Aman) & Robert Freeman Publication Fund of the Glückstal Colonies Research Association

Margaret (Aman) and Robert Freeman Publication Fund Donations


Dr. Adam Giesinger Collection

Dr. Adam Giesinger's interest in family history began in 1917 when he had already mastered the German language at the age of eight. Throughout his life, he began to develop more of an intersest and began researching the Germans from Russia. Adam would go on to write a book, From Catherine to Khrushchev: The Story of Russia's Germans. Dr. Giesinger's continued research of the German Russians enabled him to amass a large collection of very unique books and documents. In October 2010, the children of Dr. Giesinger donated his book collection and archival materials to the GRHC.

Please click here to view more information about Dr. Adam Giesinger

Finding aid to the Dr. Adam Giesinger Collection

James T. Gessele

James Gessele has been working as a volunteer translator for the Germans from Russia Heritage Collection (GRHC) as a German language translator. He has contributed hundreds of hours on translation projects. The GRHC is deeply grateful for his translation of projects so important to the rich heritage and culture of the Germans from Russia community.

Please click here to view more information about James T. Gessele

Alex Herzog

Since the late 1990s, Alex Herzog has been working as a volunteer translator for the Germans from Russia Heritage Collection. He has contributed hundreds of hours on translation projects, English to German and German to English, that include the GRHC book and cookbook publications, periodical and newspaper articles, and e-mail messages.

Please click here to view more information about Alex Herzog's contributions


Thomas J. Hoffman Collection

Thomas J. Hoffman was a native of Mandan, Morton County, North Dakota. His thirty-five year dedication to researching German-Russian Catholic family genealogies led to the creation of a large collection of information about marriages, births, and deaths related to the heritage of Catholic German families. Upon his death, his wife Lenni donated this historically significant collection to the GRHC in 2004.

Please click here to view more information about the Thomas J. Hoffman Collection


Udo Gerhard Keller zu Kellerrode Fund

Gisela Clara Schilling Keller, a longtime employee at the NDSU Varsity Mart, has established the Udo Gerhard Keller zu Kellerrode Fund, with a major financial gift to the Germans from Russia Heritage Collection. The Fund was established in July, 2001.

Gisela Schilling Keller announces major gift to NDSU Libraries, July 29, 2001

Victor Knell Collection

The Victor Knell Collection was donated to the Germans from Russia Hertitage Collection in April 2002. Victor is a historian who has influenced identication and preservation of dialect-usage and folk traditions. Victor serves as village historian for Brienne and Teplitz, in Bessarabia; serves as editor for the well-informed Red River Chapter newsletter; and serves on editorial-publications projects at the Germans from Russia Heritage Society, Bismarck. The collection has photographs, musical artifacts, textiles, and ephemerals which reflect ethnic pioneer life in Mercer County, North Dakota.

Victor Knell has complied five family histories for Knoll/Knell, Breitling, Oster, and Adolf heritage. The Knoll/Knell family (from ancestral village of Necketailfingen, Wuerttemburg, Germany) were among the religious pietists of "emigration harmonium" ” to South Russia. They traveled by “ulmer barges” down the Danube River toward the Black Sea. The Oster family were reformed religionists at Lambsborn, Palatinate, Germany. They were tailors who immigrated in 1798 to Tscherwenka village (in Austria-Hungarian Empire, today Yugoslavia) as linen weavers, later moving near Odessa, South Russia. The Adolf family were printers in Berlin, Brandenburg, Germany. From Odenberg, Russia, they immigrated in 1817 to (the former German village of) Brienne, Bessarabia, where the Adolf family erected and operated a wind-powered flour mill.

Further information relating to the Victor Knell Collection, can be located at these website pages:

Anniversaries are doubled (;

Victor Knell Collection

Victor Knell Collection Photographs


Kusler-Grosz Family Collection

Both Kusler and Schaefer families originated from Palatinate, Germany, as founding families of former Black Sea German village of Worms, Beresan District, South Russia in 1807 (today north of Odessa, Ukraine). These same families immigrated in the “second group to America” in 1871 to pause in Sandusky, Ohio, while sending out land-survey scouts to Sutton, Nebraska, and Yankton, Dakota. The Kusler-Schaefer families were pioneer settlers in 1972 at Odessa Reformed (near Lesterville, Dakota Territory) and later moved to Scotland, South Dakota. Some Kusler sons were pioneer homesteaders in northern McIntosh County (near Fredonia and Kulm, North Dakota) in 1884.

Johann Kusler, Jr., of Scotland, South Dakota, was married in January 1894 to Magdalena Grosz of Parkston, South Dakota, before homesteading in McIntosh County. The Grosz family were founders of rural Gnadenfeld Congregational Church [oldest German “classis” church in North Dakota], south of Kulm, North Dakota. Johann Grosz, Sr., with George Gaeckle and George Billigmeier, originating from former German villages of Kulm and Leipzig, Bessarabia (today west of Odessa, Ukraine), were the three co-founders of town site in 1892 to be named Kulm, North Dakota. Both Grosz and Dietrich families originated from Wuerttemburg, Germany, through former German village of Neuberg, (Leibental am Baraboi District, South Russia), to settle in former German villages of Kulm and Beresina, Bessarabia, (today west of Odessa, Ukraine). Two significant textiles for worship-garb were inherited through Justina Dietrich (Mrs. Daniel Grosz) of Scotland, South Dakota. Justina’s family originates from former German village of Beresina, Bessarabia, along with her maternal Bader family in neighboring Paris village.

Clara Kusler assembled a collection of “spraehle”/scripture memory cards near Kulm, North Dakota, before her marriage in 1921 as Mrs. John Mayer. Impressive color-lithgraphy of floral motifs with Bible verses decorate Clara’s memorizing cards.

Donated items include photographs, postcards, spraele, and textiles. They were donated by Clara’s sister, Adeline Kusler McCloy, to the Germans from Russia Heritage Collection in 2002.

For further information about the Kusler-Grosz Family Collection, go to these website pages:

Blacksmith's Dream

Kusler-Grosz Family Collection

Scripture Memory Cards


Theresa Mack Germans from Russia History Doctoral Fellowship

Theresa Mack Wald, Grand Forks, ND writes: "My gift for the assistantship is to preserve the heritage and culture about the positive aspects of the Germans from Russia. I want to provide a living legacy for the scholarly study of my heritage which I am very proud of. My parents, John G. Mack born in 1888 and Katherina Deringer born in 1890, lived in the Catholic Black Sea German villages of Elsass and Neu Schloessel, Kutschurgan District, South Russia (today near Odessa, Ukraine). My father was 14 and my mother was 24 when she came to America.

For 2004-2005 this assistantship included a total stipend of $16,000 for twelve months and a complete tuition waiver. The assistantship was for one year.


Michael M. Miller

Since the inception of the Germans from Russia Heritage Collection, Michael M. Miller has made many donations including financial, historical artifacts, photographs, books and above all endless hours.

With more than thirty years of dedication and service to the GRHC, Michael continues to be a leader in the preservation of his heritage and the growth of this collection.



John Philipps

John Philipps of Merced, CA, born in Landau, Beresan District, Ukraine, donated his book collection and personal papers. GRHC has published four books authored by John Philipps, funded in part with his financial donations.

John Philipps is author of the following books:


Herb Poppke Collection

Herb Poppke, the son of German Russian immigrants, was born on March 19, 1921, in Goodrich, ND. He dedicated his life to researching his family and the Germans from Russia. Herb passed away on August 15, 2012.

In 2002 and 2005, Herb donated his personal library and archives to GRHC. This includes books, correspondence, research, maps, photographs, publications, organization materials, electronic media, and other various items related to the Germans from Russia. Herb had an extensive personal library collection and was well-known for his map research of the German villages in the former Soviet Union.

Finding aid to the Herb Poppke Collection


Gwen Bernice Black Pritzkau Collection

Gwen married Julius Pritzkau in 1948. Gwen and Julius were married 58 years and had eight children. She passed away May 2006.

Gwen generated a compelling interest in the ethnic heritage of her husband Julius from historic Moldova. With a career as a Salt Lake City librarian, she was co-founder of the Glueckstal Colony Research Association (GRCA). Her faithful and tireless efforts as a genealogical research specialist, was respected internationally when involved in new resources at the Family Research Center (Salt Lake City), Germany (Stuttgart), Russia (St. Petersburg), and Ukraine, (Odessa).

Click here to learn more about Gwen Bernice Black Pritzkau


Anonymous Donor

An anonymous donor presented a gift of $12,500 in December, 2000 and $7,500 in December, 2001 requesting that funds be used for a videotape documentary on the music traditions of the Germans from Russia.

Permission to use any images from the GRHC website may be requested by contacting Michael M. Miller