In Touch with Prairie Living

September 2007

By Michael M. Miller
Germans from Russia Heritage Collection
North Dakota State University Library, Fargo

September on the Dakota prairies begins with a new school year in communities, colleges and universities. Life on the North Dakota State University campus is much busier with over 12,000 students.

The Germans from Russia Heritage Collection continues to grow with additional space in the Marie Rudel Portner Germans from Russia Room, NDSU Library. We have a growing number of books, family histories, cookbooks and special collections. This fall we will be announcing The Ernest E. Zeisler Collection that was donated by the family to GRHC in 2006.

I invite you to review the web pages of The Lawrence Welk Collection at the History/Culture Section of the GRHC website. This includes the Ludwig & Christina (Schwahn) Welk Homestead, Strasburg, ND, articles, photographs and web links.

The Institute for Regional Studies, NDSU Library, houses the musical arrangements and memorabilia at the Lawrence Welk Collection donated by the family in 1993 to NDSU. For further information, go to

Matthias Hofmann, majoring in English and American Studies at the university in Chemnitz, Germany, has an internship at GRHC for September and October. His projects include German to English translation work. Matthias was a translator at the Amerika Haus information tables at the Russlanddeutschen Bundestreffen, Wiesbaden, Germany, in May 2007. His internship is sponsored by GRHC.

We are excited to announce the newest feature to our website. Visit our new blog at The blog is our way of staying in touch with our faithful website visitors. Make sure you check back often and leave comments, as we will frequently update.

The Germans from Russia Heritage Collection will attend Women’s Showcase (Saturday, October 13) this year for the first time. We will bring our cookbooks for display and have them available for purchase.

The Dakota Memories Oral History has completed its third season of interviews. Cassie Ptacek and Tyler Simonson finished their interviews in Richardton and Dickinson.

Simonson described his experiences in North Dakota. "This was a very exciting summer for me because I got to do many things that I've never done before, including ‘witch water’ and eat pickled watermelon. Being from Minnesota, the furthest west in North Dakota I had ever traveled before this summer was Fargo, so being able to be apart of
this project and travel all around North Dakota and meet tons of wonderful people was an incredible experience!"

Ptacek expressed the importance of this project. “The time I spent working with the Dakota Memories Oral History Project has been a great opportunity. This project is so important for preserving the memories of many amazing people, because, as one of my narrators asked me, "who will tell these stories when I am gone?"

“Voices of the Heartland: German-Russian Memories” airs until October 8 every Monday and Friday at 8:35 am, 3:55 pm, 6:30 pm, and 7:55 pm on Prairie Public Radio.

Bill Thomas, director of radio at Prairie Public Broadcasting, says that the listeners love the radio series. “They bring us the voices of people that you don't usually hear on the radio, talking about things that don't usually get talked about, in a way that makes you understand why they are important. They help us understand a big part of what made this place what it is – the experience of the Germans from Russia.”

For further information about the Germans from Russia Heritage Collection, Dakota Memories Oral History Project, Journey to the Homeland Tour, and donations to GRHC such as family histories, contact Michael M. Miller, NDSU Library, PO Box 5599, Fargo, ND 58105-5599 (Tel: 701-231-8416; Email:; GRHC website:

September 2007 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