The Volga Germans

Update on the closure of the Center for Volga German Studies at Concordia University

As part of our closing process, Concordia University - Portland is pleased to announce that the research materials from The Center for Volga German Studies (CVGS) will be transferred to the Family History Library (FHL), located in Salt Lake City, Utah.

The Family History Library houses the largest genealogical collection in the world.  The FHL is free to the public, and is staffed by full-time professional researchers and volunteers, all of whom are devoted to the task of helping visitors learn about and understand their family history.  Our CVGS materials will become part of the German and Slavic Collection at the FHL.  The German and Slavic team is staffed by experts in both the Russian and German languages and has recently focused on acquiring expertise in the study of ethnic Germans in Russia.  The professionals at the FHL are able to properly handle all of the materials, including respecting the special handling needs of certain items in the collection.  We will be able to keep the collection under the management of a single organization, which has been a high priority from the outset.  The materials will be safe, professionally managed, and broadly accessible to researchers. The FHL staff are truly enthusiastic about building a Volga German (and German Russian) collection.  Their focus on the acquisition of new genealogical materials, robust resources available to library visitors, and expertise on the topics covered by the CVGS collection, were superior to any other institution that we considered.   

Unfortunately, the one priority that we were unable to satisfy was our desire to keep the collection in the Pacific Northwest.  Despite that, the FHL most fully meets our criteria, in comparison to all other institutions we considered.

The Family History Library has devoted significant staff time towards organizing and moving the collection. We will keep you informed as they catalog the collection and make it available again to researchers. We are pleased that the CVGS collection will live on as a valuable resource for Volga Germans to continue the study of their heritage and family history.

Who Are the Volga Germans?

The Volga Germans are a unique ethnic group that settled in the lower Volga River region from 1764 to 1767 under a Russian colonization program promoted by Catherine the Great’s government. These colonists retained their native language, religious beliefs, customs and traditions while at the same time being influenced by the land and their neighbors. By 1875, many Volga Germans began migrating to both North and South America. While many Volga German descendants remain in Russia and Central Asia, large numbers have also migrated to Germany since the 1980’s.

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