Videos from the
2020 Annual Conference

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Aaron Farber of AHSGR HQ will be doing a virtual tour and introduction of the team


Western Canadian Little Known Treasures for Researching your Volga German Roots. John Althouse will be discussing hunting toward the Volga region.(30-45 min)

Crimea, A Personal Connection  by Merv Weiss .(30-45 min)

Roger Minert

Crimea, A Personal Connection  by Merv Weiss .(30-45 min)

Because not all vital records are available on microfilm in North America, many researchers find it necessary to communicate with churches, civil registrars, and private individuals in Europe. There are many challenges to such communication, and this presentation will guide novices and experts alike in overcoming such problems. Emphasis is placed on the locating of names and addresses, language considerations, payment of fees, etc. Attention is also given to telephone and telefax communications--an increasingly efficient way to obtain assistance in Europe. (45-60 Min)

Germans from Russia Settlement Locations in the United States, 1873-2020 presented by Sandy Shiling Payne- It has been nearly 150 years since the first immigrant Germans from Russia arrived in America, and generations upon generations of their descendants still live here. Maps of settlement in the U.S. up to now have focused on where the immigrant and first generation lived. Because history didn’t end when our ancestors arrived in America, a new map was needed. This presentation looks at why the German colonists left Russia, how they got to North America, where they initially settled, and where up to five generations of their descendants migrated and live today. Included is a tour of the new map of these locations and the German-Russian origins of each location. (30-45 minutes)


Introduction to the Volga Germans & A Day in the Home Life of the Germans on the Volga with Dr. Brent Mai

Everyone starts on a different page when it comes to their knowledge of who the Volga Germans are and how they came to be in Russia. This session will bring all attendees to the same place in that understanding - and we'll launch into an exploration of what a-day-in-the-life was like for Volga Germans. (60 min)

Census Records in Germany 1816-1916 

Dr.Roger Minert will be presenting -This new (2016) presentation is based on the results of my sabbatical stay of six months in Europe in 2015. The traditional mystery of German census records can now be explained: they are in many ways unlike their counterparts in the U.S. Frequency, content, methodology, and accessibility of these records in the thirty-eight states of the German Empire will be explained and illustrated       

From Church Archives to NKVD Archives by Carolyn Schott

We will be following in the footsteps of the Billigmeier family, who left the Pfalz region after the “Year Without a Summer” to immigrate to Russia in search of a better life. After years of peaceful prosperity in the Beresan area, the fate of two branches of the family diverged. One branch went to Bessarabia and then on to homestead in North Dakota. The branch that remained in the Odessa region had their farms seized and collectivized, suffered during the famine-genocide, and finally faced arrest and execution. Some family members were exiled to Kyrgyzstan. The presentation blends historical events and the story of a specific family. It will also review the documents that were used to re-create the lives of this family, from church records to local histories to copies of NKVD files

Faith & Industry by Dr Brent Mai

Through the centuries, faith practices have been an integral part of Volga German life. Approximately 70% of the original immigrants who settled the Volga German colonies were Protestant; the remainder Roman Catholic. During this session, Dr. Mai will lead a discussion into how our Volga German ancestors structured their lives around the faith practices of each colony. The uniqueness of how Adventism developed among the Volga Germans will also be explored. From farming of wheat, tobacco, and sugar beets to sarpinka weaving, flour milling, and organ design, we'll also delve into the economic backbone of our ancestral Volga German communities.                      (1Hr)

Church Records in Germany by  Dr Roger Mintert

This presentation is an introduction to the identification and location of the church 

(vital) records for towns and cities in Germany (with borders as of 1871). The emphasis is on the types of records available in specific provinces during specific periods of time. The discussion features major historical events and developments associated with the keeping of vital records in Germany. Handouts include bibliographical data on church record inventories available in the LDS Family History Library. The 90-minute duration allows time for practice in reading typical church records.

 Google MyMaps of Ancestral German Colonies in Russia (1763-1939) by Sandy Schilling Payne

It all started with the same questions we’ve all had. Where was my ancestor’s village? Is it still there? Does it have a different name? Is it far from other villages? What country is it in now? How do I figure out where it is from these old maps? Where is it on today’s map? This presentation looks at the Germans from Russia Settlement Locations project, a geographic genealogy resource of Google MyMaps plots the locations of German colonies across the Imperial Russian Empire. This presentation reviews the history of the project, the progress so far, what’s next and a tour of the 5,737 plotted locations on the map

Most of the original Volga German immigrants were ethnically German, but not all of them. Dr. Mai will begin by discussing the Western European Origins of the Volga Germans. We will then re-live their trek from Western Europe to their new homeland along the banks of the Volga River in Russia. It was a long and arduous journey, for sure! How did they get there? What was it like when they arrived? What was life like in Russia after they arrived? These are some of the questions we will explore during this session. (1 Hr)