Miller Works to Preserve North Dakota's German-Russian
Tomlinson, Kelly. "Miller Works to Preserve North Dakota's German-Russian Heritage." Spectrum, 19 January 1996.
For Michael Miller, the preservation of one's heritage is extremely
important. Miller is SU's Germans from Russia Bibliographer. Among
his responsibilities is the coordination of the Germans from Russia
Heritage Collection and its exhibitions.
"It takes a lot of research and photo searching," Miller said.
The most recent Germans from Russia exhibit, "The Kempf Family:
Germans on the Dakota Plains," is an example of the hard work it
takes to put together such an exhibition.
"This is a major exhibit," Miller said. "It has 14 panels. It
takes a lot of planning and coordination just to decide where it
will go in the future."
The problem with the exhibit is its size. Since many of the German-Russian
communities in North Dakota are smaller towns, there is not always
an adequate place to display the exhibit.
"For example, a town the size of Oakes, N.D., is not set up for
galleries. In Oakes, the bank will host the exhibit," Miller said.
According to Miller, the most important thing is that the exhibit
reaches the German-Russian towns in North Dakota. Miller hopes that
such an exhibit will show people the importance of preserving their
"The importance of the exhibit," Miller said, "Is how one family
has completed detailed research about its culture and heritage.
We can only put exhibits together with the help of families that
have saved photos."
When creating exhibits, Miller considers many things.
"The Key element," Miller said, "is the audience that is going
to view the exhibit. From experience we have learned that large
photos and minimal text works best."
When he is not working on the exhibits, Miller is doing work in
preparation for this summer's Journey to the Homeland: German and
Miller will travel to Germany and the Ukraine this summer with
North Dakotans of Germans from Russia descent.
"I hope it will give people the opportunity to step on the soil
and visit the villages where their grandparents lived," Miller said.
"It should also help these people to come back and present public
programs with the photos they have taken."
Miller believes that these people will be ambassadors for future
visits to Germany and the Ukraine. One of the most important goals
he has set for these trips is a personal one.
"I had a personal interest," Miller said. "I wanted to visit these
villages where my grandparents lived in South Russia. Many others
wanted to visit these villages. I hope that through these trips
more people will be able to develop their own family histories."
|Michael Miller, SU's Germans from Russia
bibliographer, stands with Antonia (Welk) Ivanova in the village
of Limanskoe near Odessa, Ukraine in December. Antonia is a
relative of the late bandleader Lawrence Welk.
||A Ukrainian woman brings home wood for heat
near the former German Village of Glueckstal, Republic of Trans-Dniester,
Moldova. Photo by Michael M. Miller
|Women in village of Novosamarka (former
German village of Sofiental) near Odessa, Ukraine, husking corn,
17 December 1995. Photo by Michael M. Miller
Reprinted with permission of the Spectrum.