SPEC Kit 347: Community-based Collections · 113
Guide to the Sidney Heitman Germans from Russia in Colorado Study Project Collection
Russian Germans --Colorado.
Heitman, Sidney.
Colorado State University. Germans from Russia in Colorado Study Project.
Special Document Types:
Oral history.
Slides (photographs).
Germans from Russia, or Volga Germans, originally came from Germany. During the eighteenth century, Catherine
the Great and her grandson Alexander I invited Germans to settle rich farm lands along Russia's Volga River. They
enjoyed about one hundred years of prosperity and considerable autonomy in matters of language, law, religion and
social customs. Political turmoil in Russia at the end of the nineteenth century motivated thousands of Volga Germans
to immigrate to the United States, where they settled on the plains of Kansas, Colorado, and the Dakotas. In the late
1970s, Volga Germans were Colorado's second largest ethnic group.
Dr. Sidney Heitman established the Germans from Russia in Colorado Study Project in 1975 at Colorado State
University. As a memorial to him, the collection was named The Sidney Heitman Germans from Russia Collection, in
his honor in 1993. The development of a comprehensive collection of material on Volga Germans in Colorado and on
the broader subject of Volga Germans was a high priority of the project. The project consisted of more than ten staff
members ranging in responsibilities of researcher to archivist to consultant. Sidney Heitman, James Long, Kenneth
Rock, John Newman, and Timothy Kloberdanz were the primary staff members during the project's four year
existence. The study project consisted of five objectives: research, teaching and training, publication and
dissemination of information, historic preservation, and public service.
The study project was part of the University's International and Intercultural Education programs in the 1970s. The
University, the College of Humanities and Social Sciences, as well as public and private organizations jointly
supported the project. Reduced funding for the 1979 academic year brought the end of the official work of the project.
Many history professors involved in the project continued to contribute research and findings to the collection long
after the official end of the study project.
Colorado State University's Archives and Special Collections were fairly new when the Germans from Russia in
Colorado Study Project began. Archivist John Newman and project coordinator Sidney Heitman established the
Germans from Russia Collection in the department as research was conducted and staff members collected materials.
The department gained full ownership of the collection in 1996.
Scope and Contents
The Sidney Heitman Germans from Russia in Colorado Study Project consists of materials dating from 1907 to 1997
with the bulk of materials between 1976 and 1978 at the height of the study project's activities. The materials in the
collection are directly related to the study project Sidney Heitman founded in 1975. Documentation of the study
project's operations is enlightening and the foundation of the collection. The study project collected conference papers
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