Anyone familiar with the West Divide business district of Bismarck—home of a supermarket, bar and grill; banks, coffee shops, dentists, a hotel, gym, and liquor store—has probably driven past the Germans From Russia Heritage Society (GRHS) office and library. It’s just off Divide Avenue on Turnpike. Perhaps you’ve seen it and wondered, “What is that place?” Norbert Mayer is happy to tell you all about it. He is the president of the North Dakota Pioneer Chapter of GRHS. Norbert shares why it’s worth stopping in the next time you’re in the neighborhood and fills us in on a special GRHS event in September featuring 42 Ukrainian singers and instrumentalists.
Give us a little history of the Germans from Russia Heritage Society.
The North Dakota Historical Society of Germans from Russia was founded on January 9, 1971. Germans from Russia with upper Midwestern roots also joined the organization, so now we have members from all over the United States, Canada, and Germany. On July 14, 1979 the name was changed to Germans from Russia Heritage Society (GRHS). The Dakota Pioneer Chapter is a local affiliate of GRHS.
What is your mission?
The GRHS Mission is to bring people together to share and discover the rich culture, history, and heritage of the German Russian people. Our membership is made up primarily of German Russian descendants from the Black Sea area. We are Germans from Russia because starting in the 1700s Germans immigrated to Russia (now Ukraine), and in the late 1800s and early 1900s they immigrated to the U.S., always in search of better opportunities.
What services or benefits do you offer?
Our society collects, lists, and catalogues published materials and personal documents that tell of the European migration to the United States, Canada, and South America, as well as the difficult pioneer life on the plains. These materials can be read and researched in our library at 1125 West Turnpike Avenue, Bismarck, ND 58501. The office is open weekdays, 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., or call 701-223-6167. We also provide speaker programs to other organizations interested in learning more about Germans from Russia.
How can people learn more?
People can visit the GRHS Library or attend Dakota Pioneer Chapter meetings held the fourth Tuesday of each month, September through May, at the Bismarck Senior Center. Visit grhs.org for more information.
To learn more about the country our ancestors came from, we invite and encourage you to attend the Ukrainian Music Mission Kiev concert at Legacy High School in Bismarck on Friday, September 14 at 7 p.m. A free will offering will be taken to support their mission to serve widows and orphans in the Ukraine. Visit musicmissionkiev.org to hear a sample of the music and learn more about Music Mission Kiev.