the Germans from Russia
Annotated Bibliography of the Germans from Russia
Compiled by Michael M. Miller
Published by the North Dakota Institute for Regional Studies,
North Dakota State University Libraries, Fargo, ND, 1987, 224 pages, softcover.
The story of the Germans from Russia had its beginning in 1763
when Catherine II, a former princess of the principality of Anhalt-Zerbst,
was Empress of Russia. In possession of large tracts of virgin land
along the lower course of the Volga River in Russia, Catherine issued
a manifesto inviting foreigners to settle in Russia and turn this
region into productive agricultural land and populate the area as
a protective barrier against the nomadic Asiatic tribes who inhabited
The Seven Years War had just ended in 1763 and whole regions in
Germany lay devastated. Poverty was widespread. Many Germans emigrated
at this time to other lands including Russia. Approximately 300
mother colonies were founded throughout Russia during the settlement
years, and as the population grew, more acreage had to be acquired
for the landless. Eventually there were more than 3000 ethnic settlements
Their schools and churches provided instruction in their native
language, German. Life was generally good for the colonists and
they maintained the distinct customs, dress, musical tastes, and
dialects of their ancestral homelands.
However, in 1871, Tsar Alexander II revoked their preferential
rights and privileges and the colonists, as a result, were reduced
to the level of the Russian peasants. In 1872 as emigration movement
to the United States, Canada, and South America was set in motion
which continued more or less unabated until the outbreak of World
The first settlement of the German-Russians in the Middle West,
specifically Dakota Territory, occurred in the spring of 1873. As
more and more immigrant Black Sea Germans continued to arrive in
Dakota Territory in search of land, their homesteads spread in 1884
into what is now North Dakota. Eventually, their homesteads were
located in all arable parts of North Dakota. As a result, North
Dakota numbers twice as many Germans from Russia as does any other
state in the United States.
Researching the Germans from Russia is an annotated bibliography
of the Germans from Russia Heritage Collection (GRHC), North Dakota
State University Libraries, Fargo. GRHC is the most comprehensive
and detailed annotated bibliography in the United States and Canada
of books and materials about the Germans from Russia.
Listed in the publication are books on the Black Sea Germans, Hutterites,
Mennonites, Vohlynian Germans, Volga Germans, and Germans from Russia
in the two Dakotas and throughout the United States. Also included
are church histories, literature, folklore, sound recordings, cassette
tapes, community and county histories for North Dakota, family histories,
maps, newspapers, census material, cookery, and periodicals.
A title index, name index, and a colony-district index provide
easy access to the publication. Photographs are found throughout.
Professor Timothy J. Kloberdanz writes in the preface to Researching
the Germans from Russia, "As the mere size of this bibliography
attests, the Germans from Russia Heritage Collection is one of the
largest archives of its kind in the New World. One greatly envies
the new researcher who, hungry for information about the Germans
from Russia, will discover this annotated bibliography for the first
Comments about the book:
"Miller's bibliography of the Germans from Russia Collection
is something we have needed for a long time. Who are we? What is
our background? These questions have been asked a thousand times,
but until recently the answers were tucked away in obscure archives
or remote foreign journals. Thanks to Mr. Miller we can now tap
the European sources, if we wish, and survey the English language
publications which have been appearing in remarkable large numbers."
-- Rev. William C. Sherman, Associate Professor of Sociology Emeritus,
North Dakota State University, Fargo, author of Prairie Mosaic:
An Ethnic Atlas of Rural North Dakota
"Searching for information on our ethnicity is made easier
with this compilation of sources. This publication is essential
for the entire spectrum of interest level in the Germans from Russia."
-- Dr. Armand Bauer, past editor of Heritage Review, Germans
from Russia Heritage Society, Bismarck, North Dakota, author of
German Russian Settlements in the United States
"The annotated bibliography constitutes for every scholar
and lay person interested in the Germans from Russia that all important
point of departure. In the publication we find as part of the annotation
the crucial overview of what most of us need to begin. As a result
of the wonderful organization into which the publications have been
categorized, we can isolate and zero in on the specific information
needed. The Institute deserves the highest congratulations for its
-- Dr. La Vern J. Rippley, St. Olaf College, Northfield, Minnesota,
Professor of German, author of German Russian Settlements in
the United States and The Immigrant Experience in Wisconsin
About the compiler...
A native of Strasburg, North Dakota, Michael M. Miller grew up
in the German-Russian community when its most famous native son,
Lawrence Welk, was playing champagne music to America's audiences.
Miller's grandparents immigrated to south central North Dakota from
the colonies of Strassburg, Black Sea, South Russia, and Krasna,
Miller has been a member of the staff of the North Dakota State
University Libraries since 1967. He is Bibliographer for the Germans
from Russia, North Dakota State University Libraries, Fargo. He
has traveled extensively in Europe working closely with German-Russian
societies in Germany as well as the two organizations in the United
States. A graduate of Valley City State University, he has two master's
degrees from the University of North Dakota.
John Schmaltz and family in front of his meat market in Strasburg,
North Dakota, 1914. Photo courtesy of Emmons Country Historical
Society, Linton, North Dakota
Marketplace before harvest in Tarutino, Bessarabia. Bildkalender
1973 Bessarabien: Heimat im Bild.
German-Russian farmers hauling their grain to market to the
William H. Brown Company, Mandan, North Dakota, 1905. Brown
Collection, State Historical Society of North Dakota.
Distant view of Holy Trinity Catholic Church, Krasna area,
Emmons County, North Dakota, 1976, by Fred Schumacher, Dakota
Photo Documentary Project, State Historical Society of North
Review by Clifford Scott