01 June 2019

Update: Germans from Russia in America

Over the past month, I've received 328 responses to the Germans from Russia in America survey. Thank you for sharing the locations and stories of how your families came to America, where they settled, where they moved and when. I appreciated the directions some of you sent for the places in which your families lived that no longer exist or have been overtaken by cities. Many indicated a deep sense of pride their identity of being German-Russian, and for others, it was a recent discovery of a heritage that wasn't talked about in their families but is now being embraced.

The first 200 responses have been normalized by state, town, generation and German-Russian origins.  This created 2292 lines of usable data with 806 unique locations and 140 unique GR origins. About 2/3 of the of the normalized data has been summarized into language that can be dropped into the map data. Summarizing also included throwing out anything too large to be mapped for a reported generation, such as an entire state, county or township. Cities, towns, neighborhoods, census-designated places, unincorporated communities, ghost towns, historical post offices and historical cemeteries (for those places that weren't even ghost towns anymore) were included.

Initially I chose the South Atlantic states (Delaware down to Florida) to do some experimenting. Once I added the survey responses to the data I'd already collected and sorted the lot, there was no duplication of locations from what I'd already pulled from other sources. This was exciting because it meant, for these states at least, that the survey was generating new, previously undocumented locations of settlement in the U.S. by German-Russian immigrants all the way through 5th generation descendants. Given that Florida, Georgia and the Carolinas aren't exactly the first places one thinks about when hearing "German-Russian country," I decided to do California.

On the left is Richard Sallet's map of California from 1930. On the right, Karl Stumpp's map from the late 1970s.

California has long been known as a state to which immigrant Germans from Russia settled from all areas in Russia. It was also a state to which many who had settled elsewhere in the U.S. migrated to over time when things got rough where they were, to seek better opportunities elsewhere. You know, what Germans from Russia have always done.

A number of sources were used to generate a list of towns where Germans from Russia were known to have lived.

Once the survey responses were added to the locations already collected from other sources, there were only 20 duplicate locations, and there were 78 new locations. Even the duplicates were enriched by the survey data, providing details of the German-Russian origins and generations of descendants who lived/live there.

Below is the beta version of the Germans from Russia in America map. All of the details and sources are not fleshed out completely, and line editing hasn't been done. But I wanted to show where this is all going...and show how your contributions to the survey are being used. And maybe encourage others who have not filled out the survey yet to set aside some time time year to contribute their own information to the project.

Germans from Russia in America map (beta release 1 June 2019)

Like all the maps associated with this site, you can search it by clicking on the magnifying glass and begin typing. The results will begin showing below. Search for Black Sea to see all the towns that had Black Sea Germans in them. Search for Volhynia or Dobrudscha or Volga or Bessarabia. Search for Catholic to find all those town with Catholic Germans. Search for your ancestral village to see if where they settled is on the map yet – Kassel, Kandel, Frank, Walter, Constanta, etc.

Have fun. Play around with it. Let me know what you think. And remember, you can contribute to this map by filling out the survey