Lawrence Welk’s parents, Ludwig and Christina (Schwahn) Welk, emigrated from the Catholic village of Selz, Kutschurgan District, South Russia (today near Odessa, Ukraine) to homestead on a farm near Strasburg, ND, in 1894. They raised eight children at the homestead, including Lawrence, who lived at the farm from 1904 until 1924. Lawrence Welk left the farm with his accordion at age 21 to begin his musical career. The Welk Family represents the immigrant farm family story of melding into American society on the Dakota prairies. The Welk Homestead State Historic Site was established in 2015 by the State Historical Society of North Dakota (SHSND). GRHC works closely with the SHSND and the Welk Homestead.

The Lawrence Welk Collection located at the NDSU Archives includes the Welk Manuscript Collections and Welk Photograph Collections. For further information, visit the NDSU Archives’ Lawrence Welk page

GRHC has available, “The Welk Homestead: A Source Book”. Library Catalog Link

Significant Dates in the Life of Lawrence Welk
Born  March 11, 1903, Strasburg, ND
Started Career March 11, 1924 - 21st Birthday
1925-1927 With George T. Kelly and the Peerless Entertainers
1927-mid 1930s Band performed regularly over WNAX, South Dakota
April 18, 1931 Married Fern Renner - Three Children: Shirley, Donna, Larry. They have eleven grandchildren and one great-grandchild
December 31, 1938 Debut at William Penn Hotel, Pittsburgh, PA. Adpoted name of "Champagne Music of Lawrence Welk."
1940-1950 Played at the Trianon Ballroom in Chicago
1951-1955 KTLA - local television station in Los Angeles broadcasted "The Lawrence Welk Show" from the Aragon Ballroom
1955-1982 National television: 16 years on ABC; 11 years in syndication
October/November 1984 National television: Lawrence Welk Special, "On Tour with Lawrence Welk" - Part 1 and 2
December, 1984 Christmas Special on national television
December, 1985 "Musical Family" Christmas Reunion Special on national television
October, 1987 "Lawrence Welk Show" debuts on public television
May 17, 1992 Lawrence Welk died
July, 1992 On behalf of Lawrence Welk Family, Shirley Welk Fredericks announces gift of Lawrence Welk Collection to North Dakota State University, Fargo
February, 1993 Lawrence Welk Collection arrives at North Dakota State University, Fargo
March, 1993 Public television special premieres, "From the Heart: Lawrence Welk and the American Dream."
May, 1994 Lawrence Welk Theatre and Resort opens in Branson, Missouri
March, 1995 Public television special premieres, "Then and Now."
June, 1995 North Dakota's Governor Ed Schafer proclaims Lawrence Welk Week; U.S. Highway 83 in Emmons County, ND, named Lawrence Welk Highway
July, 2005 The Lawrence Welk Show - 50 Years on National Television


North Dakota Proclamation - June 1995
Additional Links