Researching the Germans from Russia: Annotated Bibliography of the Germans from Russia Heritage Collection.

Review by Clifford Scott

Miller, Michael M. Researching the Germans from Russia: Annotated Bibliography of the Germans from Russia Heritage Collection. North Dakota State University, Institute for Regional Studies, Fargo, North Dakota, 1987.

The ethnic revival of the past quarter-century has produced an outpouring of scholarly works on specific ethnic groups and local history; even more research and publication in family genealogy has appeared during the same period. For scholars and lay people interested in Germans from Russia and the northern Great Plains, where most of these immigrants to North America settled, Researching the Germans from Russia will be indispensable. This book compiled by Michael M. Miller of the North Dakota State University Library, was written principally as a guide to the use of materials in the Germans from Russia Heritage Collection at the North Dakota Institute for Regional Studies in Fargo and the Germans from Russia Heritage Library in Bismarck. However, its careful annotation of books, periodicals, newspapers, manuscripts, and audiovisual materials, along with excellent photographs, from the 1880s to the present, provides an informative overview of the subject in general.

The organization of the book and the kinds of information included in the annotations and introductions to various materials are designed to assist visitors the two collections as well as those utilizing interlibrary loans for their research. The logical categories employed include such subjects as the specific types of the Germans from Russia (e.g., Black sea, Volga River, Volhynian, Hutterite, and Mennonite); language, literature, folklore, music, church histories, family histories, community histories, County histories, and censuses. Both German-and English-language materials are included, as are works published by Germans from Russia societies and scholars in the Federal Republic of Germany. Four indexes are included to cross reference material categorized by colony and district in Russia, personal and family name, general name and subject, and title. Over ninety percent of the materials cited are from Germans from Russia Heritage Collection in Fargo.

This guide is an admirable success in virtually all respects. Its large-size format is handsome, with uncrowded pages, quality paper, and clarity of presentation. The historical photographs of people and countryside are particularly noteworthy and evocative of the subjects included in the bibliography. The annotations are generally to the point and informative; moreover, they even acknowledge defects in particular materials. This work will stimulate to action some people who may have hesitated to undertake a research project, and it will save all researchers in the fields covered much time as well as improve the quality of their finished work. One might question the brief inclusion of Amish materials, since there is no Russian connection to this Anabapist group, and wonder whether some subtopic listings might better have been alphabetized by author rather than by title, but these are judgment differences of opinion that in no way detract from the heavy use this publication will receive.

Permission to use any images from the GRHC website may be requested by contacting Michael M. Miller