"My lifelong dream has been to keep alive and enhance the heritage of the Germans from Russia." - Michael M. Miller
Celebrating 50 Years at NDSU, 1967-2017
Michael M. Miller
Director and Bibliographer, M.Ed., M.S.
Germans from Russia Heritage Collection
North Dakota State University Libraries, Fargo
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President Dean Bresciani, North Dakota State University, visits the Marie Rudel Portner Room, NDSU Library, 31 May 2016.
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Michael Miller is the Director and Bibliographer of the Germans from Russia Heritage Collection as well as a member of the faculty and staff at the North Dakota State University Libraries since 1967.
Researching the Germans from Russia: Annotated Bibliography of the Germans from Russia Heritage Collection,was compiled by Michael Miller, published by the North Dakota State Institute of Regional Studies, 1987.
Miller's higher education degrees are Bachelor of Science, (English, Journalism, Library Science) Valley City State University, Valley City, ND; Master of Science andMaster of Education, (Library/ Media Education, Secondary Education) University of North Dakota, Grand Forks. Miller attended elementary and secondary schools in Strasburg, in south central North Dakota.
At the Valley City State University homecoming events in October 2002, Miller received the Award of Merit from the Alumni Association. In April 2003, Miller donated to the Allen Memorial Library, Valley City State University, a special collection of learning resources about the Germans from Russia including books, maps, and videotapes. In 1990, the Mountain Plains Library Association presented Miller with the Distinguished Service Award
The Johannes Baumgartner Story and Genealogy: Bicentennial Editon: 1774 - 1974 compiled by John J. Baumgartner, Jr., was published in 1974.
Michael Miller at the home of Leopoldo Bach with his accordion at Johannesdorf, near Lapa in southern Brazil, February 11, 2012. Leopoldo Bach was born on September 1, 1927 and passed away in 2016. Leopoldo was interviewed in April, 2013 for the South American Germans from Russia television documentary.
University Room Address
Germans from Russia Heritage Collection Room 114C
Marriage photo of Peter and Mary Baumgartner Miller, Strasburg, North Dakota.
Peter & Mary (Baumgartner) Miller Family: (l-r, back row): Donald; Ramona; Harold & Oswald ; (l-r, front row): Pearl, Mary & Peter & Michael. Circa late 1940s.
Ancestry of Michael's parents, Peter P. Miller & Mary M. Baumgartner, Strasburg, North Dakota
Peter P. Miller is the son of Peter & Agnes (Schreiner) Miller (Müller), born at the Catholic German village of Krasna, Bessarabia, South Russia (today Krasnoe, Ukraine). Peter & Agnes Miller immigrated from Bessarabia to Emmons County, ND, in 1894, settling in the Krasna area, west of Strasburg, ND. Mary Baumgartner is the daughter of Michael & Otillia (Wolf) Baumgartner. Michael & Otillia were born in the Black Sea Catholic village of Strassburg (Kutschurgan District), South Russia (today Kutschurgan, near Odessa, Ukraine), immigrating to Strasburg, ND, in 1889. The Peter Miller (Müller) Genealogy compiled by Michael M. Miller and Linda M. Haag, was published in 2008.
Family Heritage of Michael M. Miller
Michael son of Johannes Baumgartner, born September 5, 1874, died November 11, 1942; married on April 29, 1892, Otillia [nee Wolf], born on December 25, 1872, died on March 7, 1954, Strasburg, North Dakota
Eva Wikenheiser, April 29, 1893 - October 7, 1970
Peter P., son of Peter and Agnes [nee Schreiner]
Miller, born on June 4, 1904, died on August 1, 1984; married
Mary Baumgartner, born on August 28, 1907, died on July 17,
Oswald, September 18, 1927 - March 8, 2006
Growing up in a North Dakota German-Russian Community
Michael Miller's hometown of Strasburg was settled primarily by Catholic Black Sea German immigrants who came to south-central North Dakota in the 1880s from the former German villages near Odessa, Ukraine. His Müller grandparents immigrated to North Dakota in 1889 from the Catholic village of Krasna, Bessarabia. His Baumgartner grandparents immigrated to North Dakota from the Catholic village of Strassburg, Kutschurgan District, South Russia (today near Odessa, Ukraine).
Miller grew up speaking both English and German and became interested in the heritage, culture and history of his ancestors. An important focus throughout Miller's life and career has been the preservation and documentation of the rich heritage within the German-Russian community in North America.
Circa late 1910s/early 1920s.
My grandparents, Michael & Otillia (Wolf) Baumgartner. Michael was born in 1874 and died in 1942. Otillia was born in 1872 and died in 1954. Married in 1892 at Strasburg, ND. For complete information, see the Johannes Baumgartner Story and Genealogy. Front row (l-r): Michael, Jr., Michael, Sr., Agnes, Philippine, Tillie, Odelia and Eva. Back row: Frank, Margaret, Barbara, John and Mary.
The Michael and Otillia Wolf Baumgartner Family, Strasburg, ND, circa 1950s. Front row (l-r): Philippine, Odelia, Michael (father), Odellia (mother), Agnes, and Mary; Back row (l-r): Frank, Barbara, Michael, Margaret, John, and Eva.
Miller's hometown on the Dakota prairies became well-known, due to one of North Dakota's most famous native sons. Bandleader Lawrence Welk was born in a sod house on a farmstead near Strasburg homesteaded by his Catholic Black Sea German-Russian parents. Mr. Welk conducted America's most famous television orchestra, with The Lawrence Welk Show entertaining North American television audiences for 27 years. Miller's friendship with the Welk family in Strasburg led to locating the musical archives of Lawrence Welk, being donated to NDSU in 1993.
The Lawrence Welk Collection is housed at the NDSU Archives, North Dakota State University Libraries, Fargo. For further information, contact: firstname.lastname@example.org or 701-231-8914.
He has directed 21 annual tours for educating Americans and Canadians of German-Russian heritage to their former ancestral German villages in Ukraine and Moldova beginning in May, 1996 to May 2017. The 1997 tour also included viewing cultural treasures of Russia in St. Petersburg.
Dakota Memories Oral History Interview Project
The Dakota Memories Oral History Interview Project (2005-2009) began in the spring of 2005 in cooperation with the Department of History at North Dakota State University. For further information, visit: www.ndsu.edu/grhc/dakotamemories
Producing the Germans from Russia Award-Winning Documentaries
In February, 1999, Prairie Public Television, Fargo, North Dakota, premiered the 60-minute award-winning television documentary, The Germans from Russia: Children of the Steppe, Children of the Prairie. The program received a wonderful response from throughout North America. The documentary received the prestigious Silver Telly Award from the Center for Creativity. Executive producers of the program were Bob Dambach, director of television at Prairie Public Broadcasting, and Michael M. Miller.
In March, 2000, Prairie Public TV premiered a television documentary on the foodways and recipesoftheGermans from Russia culture brought to the central and northern plains of North America: Schmeckfest: Food Traditions of the Germans from Russia.
In September, 2002, Prairie Public Television premiered Prairie Crosses, Prairie Voices: Iron Crosses of the Great Plains. Miller was pleased to be an executive producer of the third videotape documentary of the Germans from Russia Series. For filming and interviews, the crew traveled in the Dakotas, western Kansas, and southern Saskatchewan.
In April, 2005, Prairie Public Television premiered the a documentary A Soulful Sound: Music of the Germans from Russia. This is the fourth in the "Germans from Russia" documentary series. The concert choirs of the University of Mary, Bismarck, ND, and Jamestown College, Jamestown, ND, were cooperating partners with the music documentary.
In July, 2006, the 30-minute documentary premiered, We'll Meet Again in Heaven.This program isasearing chronicle of a forgotten genocide and a lost people. The lost people are the ethnic German minority living in Soviet Ukraine, who wrote their American relatives about the starvation, forced labor, and execution that were almost daily fare in Soviet Ukraine during this period of 1928 to 1938.
In July, 2010, It's All Earth and Sky, premiered. It's All Earth and Sky was the reaction of one German-Russian immigrant when she arrived on the plains of the midwest. Like many others who came to the region seeking a land of promise and opportunity, she and her family endured...and prevailed...on this rich, expansive landscape.
In this documentary, five representative Germans from Russia, who have attained success and stability, share their insights on the process of becoming American. Arthur E. Flegel is the founder of a successful furniture store in Menlo Park, California; Debra Marquart is a creative writer and a professor at Iowa State University, Ames, Iowa; Al Neuharth lives in Cocoa Beach, Florida, and is a journalist and founder of USA Today; Henry S. Schmick of Cheyenne, Wyoming, is a cattle raiser, beet farmer, helicopter mechanic, and a member of the National Guard; and Brian Schweitzer is a rancher, soil scientist, and governor of the state of Montana.
In July, 2012 premiered At Home in Russia, at Home on the Prairie telling the story of the Kutchurganers. The life they led in South Russia and their life after journeying to the prairies of North America. The stories are told by the descendants of these pioneers. Msgr. Joseph Senger, Christina Gross Jundt, Helen Fiest Krumm, Adam Giesinger, Fr. Thomas Welk, Theresa Kuntz Bachmeier, Barbara Schneider Risling, Ron Yolk, Colleen Zeiler, Debra Marquart, Mary Ebach, Clara Ebach.
Family members are not just forces in life but take their shape through historical time and in geographical place. Prairie Public and the NDSU Libraries’ Germans from Russia Heritage Collection, place one’s own family story in a wider human narrative of what it means to be a German from Russia today. The documentary as an audible and visual museum of one emotional and intellectual place, the Kutschurgan Valley in Russia, as the intersection of memory and place, a foundation of many shared and common memories for those of us in the Northern Plains and western Canadian prairie provinces.
The documentary, “At Home in Russia, at Home on the Prairie”, received the Platinum Best of Show Award from the Aurora Awards in the Historical Category. This is the highest award for a television documentary presented by the Aurora Awards and is one of twenty-seven to receive this award in 2012 in the USA.
In February, 2012, Bob Dambach, director of television, Prairie Public Broadcasting, and Michael Miller, traveled to Argentina and Brazil to begin work on a new television documentary on the story of the Germans from Russia in South America. Prairie Public videographers.
Michael Miller shared: “The days in Argentina and Brazil in February, 2012, were truly amazing and unforgettable. I was impressed how I could speak in the German language with many people. There are wonderful comparisons of the German-Russian foods and recipes including Kuchen. The cemeteries featured the beautiful wrought-iron crosses similar to what we see in central North Dakota.”
In April, 2013, Michael Miller traveled with Bob Dambach, director of television, Ben Stommes & Dave Geck, videographers , of Prairie Public Broadcasting, to southern Brazil for the final filming and interviews. They completed interviews in the states of Parana, Santa Catarina and Rio Grande du Sol with persons of Bessarabian, Mennonite, Volhynian and Volga German ancestry.
From 22 September to 17 October, 2013, Michel Miller traveled with Bob Dambach, Barb Gravel & Dave Grant, videographers, to Argentina for final filming and interviews in the states of Buenos Aires, Entre Rios and La Pampa. They interviewed persons with Black Sea, Mennonite and Volga German heritage.
The 8th documentary of the award-winning “Germans from Russia Series” of Prairie Public Broadcasting "We (Never) Don't Forget Germans from Russia in South America", premiered on Wednesday, 15 July 2015 at the Heritage Center, Bismarck, North Dakota, at the beginning of the 45th Germans from Russia Heritage Society International Convention (15-19 July 2015). For further information, including articles and photographs, click here.
Like North America before the turn of the 1900s, South America was a land of opportunity - a magnet of immigration from Europe and Asia. Many of these immigrants were directly related to Germans from Russia in the United States and Canada. They were a mixture of Black Sea Germans, Volga Germans, Volhynian Germans, Bessarabian Germans and Mennonite Germans.
The wonderers to South America were no longer guided by the North Star in the nightly sky; rather, they found the Southern Cross and a climate exactly in reverse to what they knew. Their traditions are the traditions of North America - their culture, our culture, their music, our music.
We (Never) Don't Forget Germans from Russia in South America examines the history, language, music, religion, foodways, and culture of this ethnic group and chronicles how these traditions are flourishing across generations.
“Gutes Essen: Good Eating in German-Russian Country” celebrates the food culture of the Germans from Russia who emigrated to south central North Dakota beginning in the 1880s.
The 9th documentary premiered on 12 July 2017, Heritage Center, Bismarck, ND. Production funding provided by Prairie Public Broadcasting – www.prairiepublic.org and the Tri-County Tourism Alliance – www.germanrussiancountry.org – Emmons, Logan and McIntosh counties, south central North Dakota.
Visit the kitchens of 10 local cooks who make strudels, sauerkraut, kartoffel-kurbis strumbus, fleischkeuchla, borscht, rahmnoodla, pickled beets, stirrum, knoephla soup and kuchen. Spend a morning at the historic Model Bakery in Linton where kuchen is hand crafted, and tour Grandma’s Kuchen in Ahsley to see a mcchanized method for mass marketing. Learn the tricks of making sausage at Schmitt Locker in Napoleon and the Supervalu Grocery at Zeeland; and explore the church fair and supper in Strasburg and the 91st annual Saukerkraut Day in Wishek. The food is great – but the stories are even better.
Michael M. Miller and Bob Dambach, standing in a wheat field near the former German village of Elsass, Kutschurgan District (today Kherbanka), June 2, 1999. Miller and Dambach are co-producers of the documentary, "The Germans from Russia: Children of the Steppe, Children of the Prairie."
Bob Dambach, director of television, Prairie Public Broadcasting, and Michael Miller, standing by wrought-iron cross at the Catholic Cemetery near San Jose (St. Joseph), one of the three Volga German settlements near Coronel Suarez, south of Buenos Aires, Argentina, February 18, 2012. They were in Argentina and Brazil to begin work on the 2015 television documentary, We (Never) Don't Forget Germans from Russia in South America.
- Alberta Genealogical Society
- American Association of State and Local History
- American Historical Society of Germans from Russia (AHSGR) (Life Member)
- Bessarabiendeutscher Verein e.V.
- The Center for Volga German Studies
- Emmons County Historical Society, Linton, ND (Life Member)
- Federation of East European Family History Societies (FEEFHS)
- Friends of the Welk Homestead (Historian, Executive Committee)
- Germans from Russia Heritage Society (GRHS) (Life Member)
- Landsmannschaft der Deutschen aus Russland e.V.
- Mennonite Heritage Village (Steinbach, MB)
- Mercer County Historical Society, Beulah, ND (Life Member)
- North Dakota Buffalo Foundation (Life Member)
- North Dakota Heritage Foundation (SHSND)
- North Dakota Library Association
- Pioneer Village Museum (Rugby, ND)
- South Dakota Historical Society
- Society of German American Studies
- Theodore Roosevelt Nature and History Association
- Timber Lake Historical Society, Timber Lake, SD
- Tri-County Tourism Alliance (Emmons, Logan & McIntosh counties, south central North Dakota)