October 21, 2017 - Calgary, Alberta - 250th Anniversary of Yagodnaya Polyana

Celebrating the 250th Anniversary of the
Founding of the Volga German

Colony of Yagodnaya Polyana

Saturday, 21 October 2017
Calgary, Alberta

The Volga German Institute at Fairfield University is hosting a celebration of the 250th Anniversary of the founding of Yagodnaya Polyana.  This event will be a day-long seminar series held in Calgary, Alberta, on Saturday, 21 October 2017, that will include lunch provided by the Calgary AHSGR Chapter. The programs for the day will be of interest to Volga German descendants from all colonies, not only those from Yagodnaya Polyana.

The public is invited to attend. 


Advance Registration: $50 (US or CAN) per person if registration is received on or before 13 October 2017.

Regular Registration: $60 (US or CAN) per person for registration received after 13 October 2017.

Registration includes all programs for the day and lunch.

To register & pay by credit/debit card (US dollars only), please follow this link to Register Online.

If you prefer to pay by check (Canadian dollars only), print the Registration Form, and mail it along with your check to the address on the form. To qualify for the Early Registration rate, payment must be received by October 13.

If you have questions, please call Jill at 203.254.4000 x2648.

[Note: There is no discount for partial attendance of this event. Notice of cancellation on or before 13 October 2017 will receive a full refund; after 13 October 2017 will receive no refund.]


Registration and most sessions will be held at the Courtyard Calgary Airport.

2500 48 Ave. NE
Calgary, AB T3J 4V8 - Canada

Lunch and Session 4 will be held at Ascension Lutheran Church.

1432 19 St. NE
Calgary, AB T2E 4Y2 - Canada

Parking: free on-site parking at both Courtyard Calgary Airport and Ascension Lutheran Church.


Dr. Brent Mai

Speaker for the day will be Dr. Brent Mai.  Dr. Mai serves as the Dean of Libraries and University Librarian at Fairfield University in Fairfield, Connecticut, where he also leads the Volga German Institute.  Dr. Mai has spoken world-wide on many topics related to Volga German history and culture, authored dozens of articles and several books, and translated hundreds of documents. Dr. Mai, whose father's side is Volga German, grew up in Western Kansas, graduated from Bethany College in Lindsborg, and continued graduate studies at George Washington University, the University of Texas at Austin, and Vanderbilt University. He came to Fairfield from Concordia University in Portland, Oregon, where he had been the founding director of the Center for Volga German Studies.



Schedule for Saturday, 21 October 2017

8:00 - 8:30 Registration & Visiting
8:30 - 9:15 Session 1: Introduction to the Volga Germans and their Heritage
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 continue our exploration from there.
9:15 - 10:00 Session 2: Volga Germans and the Bolsheviks
2017 marks the 100th Anniversary of the Russian Revolution.  This event had a profound impact on the ethnic Germans living along the Volga River.  From 1917 to 1941 is a timulteous time in Volga German history.  The Revolutionary battles between the Red and White Armies, famines in 1921 and again in 1931, the formation of the Autonomious Republic of the Volga Germans, Collectivization, and the beginning of World War II all had profound impacts on our relatives who did not emigrate.
10:00 - 10:15 Break
10:15 - 11:00 Session 3: A Look at the Colonies Today
In August and September 1941, those Volga Germans remaining in the colonies were forceably removed and deported to Siberia and Kazakhstan.  What happened to the colonies after they left?  We'll examine what remains of the former colonies today.
11:00 Depart for Ascension Lutheran Church, 1432 19 St. NE, Calgary
We will drive (or carpool) in individual cars.
11:30 - 12:45 Lunch
The Calgary Chapter of the American Historical Society of Germans from Russia is hosting a Harvest Dinner at Ascension Lutheran Church about 10 kilometers from the Courtyard.  The cost of the dinner is included with registration.
12:45 - 2:00 Session 4: The 250th Anniversary of Yagodnaya Polyana
The Volga German colony of Yagodnaya Polyana was founded 16 September 1767. This year marks the 250th Anniversary of that founding.  Many Yagodnaya Polyana colonists immigrated to North America and settled in Calgary and the surrounding area. During this session, we'll uncover the history of this colony and look at its development and those who lived there.
2:00 Depart for Courtyard, 2500 48 Ave. NE, Calgary
We will drive (or carpool) in individual cars.
2:30 - 3:30 Session 5: The Western European Origins of the Volga Germans
When the Volga German colonies were founded (1764-1772), Germany did not exist. Rather, the ethnic Germans were living in a plethora of jurisdictions, kingdoms, duchies, and independent cities - many without contiguous borders. Today's Germany did not exist until these areas were unified in 1871 by Otto von Bismarck. Furthermore, not all Volga Germans were actually German. French, Italian, Polish, Dutch, British, Austrian, Swiss, and Scandinavian colonists also lived among them. During this session, we'll explore the origins of the Volga German immigrants who settled in Yagodnaya Polyana.
3:30 - 4:30 Session 6: Resources for Volga German Genealogy
Before the collapse of the Soviet Union, there were few resources available to those interested in researching the genealogies of Volga Germans.  Since about 1990, Western researchers have had access to several archives in the Volga region where many documents have been located.  For most, using them is complicated by language - either German or Russian - and the corresponding Latin or Cyrillic alphabets. This session will deal primarily with the resources that are available from Russian Archives - where to get them and how to use them.
4:30 Wrap-up
6:00 - 9:00 Dr. Mai will be available in the lobby of the Courtyard Hotel to provide individual assistance with genealogical research on a first-come, first-serve basis.

Area Hotels

There are many hotels in the North Calgary/Airport area. The one where the event will be held is:

Courtyard Calgary Airport
2500 48 Ave. NE
Calgary, AB T3J 4V8 - Canada