Thursday, February 18, 2010


Written by August Disselhofff over 150 years ago Nun Ade, Du Mein Lieb' Heimatland epitomized the sorrow and hope of German speaking Europeans who emigrated from their homelands seeking a better life overseas.

They did not all come from what is now the country we call Germany. They did not share the same religious or political beliefs. Their literature, music, cuisine and customs differed. But although a diverse people they shared a common language, though many might have disputed that as well with the many dialects of German spoken! Within this article the word, German, will be used loosely to describe German speaking European immigrants as a whole.

Germans immigrants settled throughout Kansas. They built churches, colleges, hospitals, schools, farms, businesses, homes and meeting halls. They founded newspapers, socials organizations, societies and established themselves as a vital part of Kansas society. They left their language scattered across the landscape with names like Humboldt, Stuttgart, Windthorst, Olpe, Marienthal and Schoenchen.

The links below offer up basic resources via the Internet, microforms and in paper. We also provide information on organizations, societies and institutions which have researched the history of German settlement and life in Kansas.


The German Heritage of Kansas: An Introduction
(William D. Keel, University of Kansas. From Swiss Mennonite Cultural & Historical Association website)

Max Kade Center for German-American Studies
(Department of Germanic Languages and Literatures, University of Kansas)

Deitsch, Däätsch, Düütsch, and Dietsch: The Varieties of Kansas German Dialects after 150 Years of German Group Settlement in Kansas
(By William Keel, Department of Germanic Languages, University of Kansas)

Linguistic Atlas of Kansas German Dialects
(From the Department of Germanic Languages, University of Kansas)

Germans in Kansas. Review Essay
(Article by Eleanor L. Turk. Kansas History, Spring, 2005 (Vol. 28, pages 44-71). From Kansas State Historical Society website)

Kansas Memory
(The Kansas State Historical Society provides a wealth of information on all things Kansas at this excellent website. Below are four categories that take in Germans in Kansas)
People - European Americans - Germans - Volga-Germans
People - European Americans - German Russians
People - European Americans - Germans
Community Life - Religion - Christianity - Mennonite

Many Europeans immigrated in groups. These groups often shared a common belief system, ethnic heritage, came from the same community in Europe or all of the above. Most Kansans are familiar with some of these groups, which sometimes overlap: Mennonites, Germans from Russia and Low Germans (Plattdeutsch):

Germans from Russia (Volga Germans)

Germans and German-Russians
(A bibliography Provided by the Kansas State Historical Society)

(A bibliography provided by the Kansas State Historical Society)

The Bukovina Germans
(You might ask just what is a Bukovina German? Find out here!)

From Far Away Russia: Russian-Germans in Kansas
(A virtual exhibit provided by the Kansas State Historical Society)

The Migration of the Russian-Germans to Kansas
(By Norman E. Saul, Kansas Historical Quarterly, Spring, 1974 (Vol. 40, No. 1),
pages 38-62. From the Kansas Collection website)

American Historical Society of Germans From Russia
Northeastern Kansas Chapter

The Golden Jubilee of German-Russian Settlements of Ellis and Rush Counties, Kansas
(A transcription of the 1926 book at the Kansas GenWeb website)

Low German Language and Heritage Revitalization Project of Washington and Marshall Counties, Kansas
(From the Department of Germanic Languages, University of Kansas)

Mennonites in Kansas
(From The Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online)

Mob Violence and Kansas Mennonites in 1918
(Violence against German Americans was common during World War I. This article is one of many different resources on the ugliness of prejudice. Kansas Historical Quartery, Autumn, 1977 (Vol. 43, No. 3), pages 334 to 350, from the Kansas Collection website)

Swiss Mennonite Cultural and Historical Association
Monthly Features
(Articles from the Association, many of which have to do with Kansas and Kansans)

Settlement of the Krimmer Mennonite Brethren at Gnadenau, Marion County
(Article by Alberta Pantle. Kansas Historical Quarterly, February, 1945 (Vol. 13 No. 5), pages 259 to 285. From Kansas State Historical Society website)

Volga German Immigrants in Kansas Traveling Resource Trunk
(From the KSHS website: The Kansas Historical Society offers an exciting series of educational resource trunks. Trunks are based on a specific theme and include hands-on activities to help students better understand the history of Kansas. Each trunk is aimed at a specific age level, but the information within the trunks can be adapted for use with all ages. Complete instructional information is included with each trunk.)

Chihuahua, Mexico Low German Dialects in Kansas
(Low German-speaking immigrants from Mexico to Kansas started arriving in the 1990's. Research from the Department of Germanic Languages and Literatures, University of Kansas)

German communities within larger towns were very active among themselves as well as business and benevolent activities that benefited all those around them.

Small Town Germans: The Germans of Lawrence, Kansas, from 1854 to 1918
(By Katja Rampelmann. Maters Thesis, University of Kansas, 1993. From Lawrence
Community Connections' History of Lawrence website)

The Germans of Atchison, 1854-1859: Development of an Ethnic Community
(Article by Eleanor L. Turk. Kansas History, August 1979 (Vol. 2), pages 146-156. From Kansas State Historical Society website)

A Nod to a Shared History
(Volga Germans in Topeka. An article by Paul Eakins, Topeka Capital Journal, August 4, 2002)

St Joseph Catholic Church (Topeka, Kansas) Records, 1887-2002
(A detailed list of records held at the Kansas State Historical Society which chronicle the history of the Volga German Catholic community in Topeka. Many microfilmed records can be borrowed from the Society via interlibrary loan)

A Tale of Two Counties: German Speakers in Kansas
(An interesting article comparing the German communities of Ellis and Marshall counties)

One of the best sources of information on the rich history of German language newspapers in Kansas is the article, "The German Newspapers of Kansas" by Eleanor Turk, (Kansas History, vol. 6 Spring 1983, pages 46+.) Many libraries subscribe to Kansas History. If you can't find it locally you should be able to get a copy via interlibary loan at your local library)

Here's a googled list of Some Kansas counties with German language newspapers You'll have to bring up each county and then do a word search for "German." You can also search the Kansas State Historical Society's Newspaper Database at The database does not have a language qualifier but common words like Zeit, Blatt, Sonntag, Herold, Anzeiger, used in a title search will bring up some newspapers. Newspapers on microfilm can be borrowed from the Society via interlibrary loan.

On a lighter side, or darker depending on the choice of beer, Germans in Kansas have contributed to the celebration of life with their food, drink and special events. Below are links to some of these activities that speak, taste and sing to us of all that is German in Kansas:

Kansas Breweries
(By Cindy Higgins. Beer brewing history in Kansas is closely tied to German
immigrants. From the Free State Brewing Company website)

(An annual day-long competition for high schoolers studying German in Kansas will
take place on March 6, starting at 9:00 a.m., in Wescoe Hall)

Bieroch Recipe
(A bieroch, can be a meal unto itself. This is just one recipe sample. There are as many ways to make a beiroch as there are to spell the word!)

Volga German Food
(Includes recipes!)

Find a Local German Food Store
(Search by Kansas)

Some Recipes from Kansas Food Journal
(Recipes from Kansas State University students)

Archival Recipe Index Search
(Wow! An amazing search tool for recipes, cookbooks and other culinary resources)

Volga German Foods
(A document from the Kansas State Historical Society's

Hays (Midwest Deutsche celebration)
Hays (held in conjunction with FHSU Homecoming weekend)
Topeka (OK... it's in June and it's called Germanfest!)
(Shawnee and Abilene have Oktoberfest celebrations as well)

Article contact: Bill Sowers

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