In Touch with Prairie Living

January 2006

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. My best wishes to you and your families in the new year of 2006!

The Pride of Dakota Holiday Showcase events at Fargo and Bismarck had record attendance. We had a wonderful reception at the GRHC information tables with many visitors. We look forward to being at these events in 2006.

GRHC is pleased to announce The Thomas J. Hoffman Collection available with an index search. GRHC became beneficiary of this valuable historically significant donation upon the request of the late Thomas Joseph Hoffman, a native of Mandan, ND. Hoffman's primary research and publishing interests related to the Beresan Colonies of South Russia (today near Odessa, Ukraine). The collection focuses on the Catholic Beresan villages and families. Many of these family from Beresan Colonies immigrated to North Dakota especially in the Mandan and Dickinson/Flasher/Richardton/Mandan/St. Anthony areas of central and western North Dakota. The Hoffman Collection website is:

Jay Gage, GRHC exhibits and textiles curator, writes: "Thomas Hoffman's genealogical vision reflects an extensive undertaking of seeking and integrating various archival sources, thus providing a rare overview of family relationships, often with generational lineage charts".

Mary Lynn Axtman of Fargo writes: " As Hoffman's primary research and publishing interests related to the Beresan Colonies, a large amount of this material would be of interest to those with Beresan family roots. The collection focuses on the Catholic Beresan villages and families."

The new book, "The Old God Still Lives: German Villagers in Czarist and Soviet Ukraine Write Their American Relatives, 1915-1924", by Ronald J. Vossler, teaching at UND, Grand Forks and a Wishek, ND native. These letters chronicle a substantial and on-going correspondence between the ethnic Germans who left Ukraine between 1873 and 1914, and who sent much money, food and clothing to those wishing that they had left South Russia also.

There is much in this new book for persons who desire to learn more about villages which were the source of one of North Dakota's most distinct, and most numerous, ethnic groups. There are 150 letters translated from the old German script to English, published in five German language newspapers in North Dakota. Families receiving these letters include: Boschee, Morlock, Wanner, Schauer, Dockter, Bender, Ketterling, Ackermann, Doerr, Kurtz, Bohlander, Schock, Mindt, Wiest, Schoepp, Schaible, Wacker, Bauer, Kessler, Frank, Schaeffer, Rohrich, Wolf, Heinle, Stockburger, Hieb, Spitzer, Huber, Rueb, Sauter, Ammon, Schweigert, Rohrbach and Wentz.

Prairie Public Broadcasting has announced a new DVD, "Germans from Russia Food Pantry" which brings 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 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.

The Germans from Russia Heritage Society Convention ( will be July 12-16, 2006, Airport Holiday Inn, Portland, OR, and the American Historical Society of Germans from Russia Convention ( will be August 13-19, 2006 at Lincoln, NE. Join us for these festive events!

For further information about the Thomas J. Hoffman Collection, Germans from Russia heritage, donations to GRHC including books, events, 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:; GRHC website:

January, 2006 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