In Touch with Prairie Living

May 2003

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 the Germans from Russia as an important part of the northern plains culture.

From May 15 to June 10, I will be traveling to Ukraine and Germany. Our 9th Journey to the Homeland Tour is May 20 to June 2. We will tour in Odessa, Ukraine from May 21-26. Some of the former German villages, which tour members will visit include: Alt-Posttal, Borodino, Hoffnungstal and Teplitz, Bessarabia; Landau, Beresan District; Selz and Strassburg, Kutschurgan District; Karlstal, Liebental District; Friedenthal, Heilbrunn, Neustatz, Sudak and Zurichtal, Crimea. Tour members with German-Russian ancestry are from West Fargo and Devils Lake, ND; Orem, UT; Gladwin, MI; Sutherlin, OR; St. Louis Park, MN; Seattle, WA; Greenwood, CO, and Toronto, ON. We will bring needy items, quilts, and school supplies for the Orphanage and Boarding School in the former German village of Landau. Further information about the Orphanage is available at:

The next Journey to the Homeland Tour is scheduled for late May/early June, 2004.

We are pleased to announce the "Recipe Index Search" available for use at the GRHC website. The search includes recipe titles from a variety of ethnic backgrounds,such as Bessarabian, Black Sea, German, Russian, Ukrainian, Mennonite, Hutterite, Volga, Crimean, and the Northern and Central Plains of the USA. The cookbook title, recipe category, recipe name, page number, and person who submitted the recipe are available through this search.

GRHC has recently published, "Twelve German Tales from Russia: Twelve Tales of Fantasy and the Supernatural", by Samuel Sinner, with illustrations by Melissa Sinner, Lincoln, NE. The book includes twelve full-page illustrations. Only one thousand copies of this limited edition book will be printed. Gathered from a variety of older written and oral sources, the reader will find memories of ancient, vanished beliefs, and practices come to life again. These tales of fantasy and the supernatural will be continually enjoyed by older and younger readers alike.

GRHC has published this new book, "South Dakota Pioneers: And So It Goes: As I Remember", by Gottlieb (Bud) Bieber, who was born in 1919 on a farm near Eureka, SD. Gottlieb shares his story beginning with the 1920s writing of farm life, weddings, country school, and holidays. In the Forward, Ronald Bieber writes: "Even though he kept quite busy just e-mailing friends and family, there was lurking in that fertile brain an author waiting to come out. The fruits of that endeavor resulted in this book, a labor of love and a legacy to be treasured for years and generations to come." The book is available by contacting GRHC or at:

GRHC has published this new book, "Gottlob Lerch: A Story" By F.B. Urban, translated from German to English. Gottlob Lerch was a simple, hard-working man who immigrated from the Kuban Region of the Russian Empire to the plains of North Dakota to make a new life for himself and his family.

GRHC has published its third new book by Ronald J. Vossler, freelance writer and a faculty member at UND, Grand Forks: "Lost Shawls and Pig Spleens: Folklore, Anecdotes, and Humor of the Germans from Russia". The book is a companion to, "Not Until the Combine is Paid and Other Jokes from the Oral Traditions of the Germans from Russia in the Dakotas", published by GRHC in 2001.

In cooperation with the Germans from Russia Cultural Preservation Foundation (, a new videotape, "Reflections with Monsignor Joseph Senger" is available. A native of Orrin, ND, Monsignor Senger, Minot, shares his childhood, farm life, and religious life, as a son of German-Russian immigrants. He shares his story of the emotional and unforgettable visit in May 2001 to southern Ukraine and his ancestral German villages.
Prairie Public's "Prairie Crosses, Prairie Voices: Iron Crosses of the Great Plains" is receiving a terrific response from viewers. Be watching for this third documentary of PPTV's Germans from Russia series on PBS stations in 2003. Iron Crosses stand as sentinels on the prairie landscape, framed by vast expanses of grass and sky. Although they stand silent, behind each cross there is a story.

Now in GRHC's fifth printing since February 2002: "German Food & Folkways: Heirloom Memories from Europe, South Russia & the Great Plains", by Rose Marie Gueldner, Fargo, a native of Anamoose, ND, is available.

The award-winning documentary videotapes, "The Germans from Russia: Children of the Steppe, Children of the Prairie" (1999), and "Schmeckfest: Food Traditions of the Germans from Russia" (2000), continue to draw much viewer interest, and have been shown on many PBS stations. Each videotape includes bonus video footage not shown in the one-hour documentary.

For further information about Germans from Russia heritage, donations to the Collection including family histories, books, notecards, videotapes, cookbooks, tours, and the new Recipe Index Search, contact Michael M. Miller, NDSU Libraries, PO Box 5599, Fargo, ND 58105-5599 (Tel: 701-231-8416; E-mail:; GRHC website:

May, 2003 column for North Dakota and South Dakota newspapers.

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