Michael M. Miller
Director and Bibliographer, M.Ed., M.S.
Germans from Russia Heritage Collection
North Dakota State University Libraries, Fargo
Executive Producer, Germans from Russia Documentary Series, Prairie Public Broadcasting
North Dakota 2010 Heritage Honor Award
2008 Librarian of the Year
NDSU Libraries’ Germans from Russia Heritage Collection receives 2011 national awards
See the monthly column of In Touch with Prairie Living.
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.
Miller's higher education degrees are Bachelor of Science, (English, Journalism,
Library Science) Valley City State University, Valley City, ND; Master
of Science and Master of Education, (Library/ Media Education, Secondary
Education) University of North Dakota, Grand Forks. Miller attended
elementary and secondary schools in Strasburg, in south central
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. He will be interviewed in 2013 for the South American Germans from Russia television documentary.
University Room Address
Germans from Russia Heritage Collection Room 114C
1201 Albrecht Blvd
PO Box 6050, Dept 2080
Fargo, ND 58108-6050
Marriage photo of Peter and
Mary Baumgartner Miller, Strasburg, North Dakota.
Peter & Mary (Baumgartner) Miller
Family: (l-r, back row): Donald (deceased); Ramona (deceased);
Harold & Oswald (deceased); (l-r, front row): Pearl, Mary &
Peter (deceased) & 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
Michael, Jr., March 7, 1895 - January 23, 1969
Barbara Wikenheiser, May 17, 1897 - July 16, 1955
Margaret Klein, October 10, 1898 - deceased
Frank, July 22, 1902 - March 1, 1952
John, October 2, 1904 - January 13, 1974
Mary Miller, born August 28, 1907 - July 17, 1970
Philippine Berglund, March 23, 1910 - November 5, 2005
Agnes Wudtke, January 25, 1914 - February 10, 1975
Odelia Davis, June 11, 1917, - October 5, 1979
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,
Strasburg, North Dakota
Oswald, September 18, 1927 - March 8, 2006
Harold, September 21, 1929
Donald, April 3, 1936 - October 10, 1998
Pearl, June 15,1940 - November 7, 2003
Ramona Becker, December 22, 1937 - February 14, 1978
Michael, July 3, 1943
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
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.
Another County Pioneer Passes: Michael Baumgartner, 68, Strasburg
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
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
19 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 2013. The 1997 tour also included
viewing cultural treasures of Russia in St. Petersburg.
Dakota Memories Oral History Interview Project
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 recipes of the Germans 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 is a searing 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, director of television, 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.
This 8th documentary of the award-winning “Germans from Russia Series” of Prairie Public Broadcasting – www.prairiepublic.org– the story of the Germans from Russia in South America – Argentina and Brazil, will premiere 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 – www.grhs.org. Further information including articles and photographs is at http://library.ndsu.edu/grhc/outreach/documentaries/sadocumentary.html. The Germans from Russia documentary series is at http://library.ndsu.edu/grhc/order/tapes/prairieindex.html.
In the late 19th century and early 20th century, many Germans from Russia immigrated to South America, specially to Argentina and southern Brazil many with Volga German heritage. At the same time, other German-Russian families immigrated to North and South Dakota, the central and northern plains, and western Canada. As a result, many of these German-Russian families in Argentina and Brazil has relatives in Canada and the United States.
From their April, 2013 filming in southern Brazil, Prairie Public Television videographers write: Ben Stommes – “The people we encountered were incredibly friendly and welcoming. It was a great please to work on the project, especially in such a unique setting.” Dave Geck – “There were times I thought, are we in Brazil or are we back home on the prairie of Dakota? The people were genuine and welcoming , and I found it amazing that their first language in many cases is still German. I felt right at home!”
||Argentina, September / October, 2013
Keli (Racho) Matter interviewed by Roberto Racho in the German language.
Interviewing Victorio Eckerdt in the German language, on their family farm near Gualeguaychu, State of Entre Ríos, 26 September 2013.
Michael Miller, Ben Stommes, Dave Geck, Bob Dambach, Kelli (Racho) Matter and her cousin, Roberto Racho of Santa Rosa.
Michael Miller, Daniel Minig, Eric Schmaltz, Catholic Cemetary at Colonia Santa María, State of Buenos Aires, 7 October 2013
Persons visiting the historic Volhynian German sites – (l-r): Nelson Bessel, Michael Miller, Vilson Wutzke, Ben Stommes, Dave Geck, Bob Dambach, Keli (Racho) Matter, Roberto Racho, Holdi Krebs and Helga (Krueger) Vetterato.
(left to right): Dave Grant, Sergio Keiner, Michael Miller, Bob Dambach, and Barb Gravel.
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 a new television documentary on the story of the Germans from Russia in South America to premiere in July, 2015.