September 24, 2017 - Topeka, Kansas - 250th Anniversary of Göbel, Hildmann, Köhler, Leichtling, Pfeifer, Rothammel, & Sewald

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

Göbel, Hildmann, Köhler, Leichtling, Pfeifer, Rothammel, & Sewald

Sunday, 24 September 2017
Topeka, Kansas

The Volga German Institute at Fairfield University is hosting a celebration of the 250th Anniversary of the founding of six Volga German colonies: Hildmann (May 14), Göbel (May 25), Leichtling (May 14), Pfeifer (June 15), Köhler (August 10), Sewald (August 20), and Rothammel (August 21).  The programs for the day will be of interest to Volga German descendants from all colonies, not just those celebrating an anniversary.  This event will be a half-day seminar series held in Topeka, Kansas, on Sunday afternoon, 24 September 2017.

The public is invited to attend. 


Early Registration: $30 per person if you register on or before 8 September 2017.

Regular Registration: $40 per person for registration received after 8 September 2017 or at the door.

To register & pay by credit/debit card, please follow this link for Online Registration.

If you prefer to pay by check, print the Registration Form, and mail it along with your check. To qualify for the Early Registration rate, payment must be received by September 8.

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 before 8 September 2017 will receive a full refund; after 8 September 2017 will receive no refund.]


​Registration and all workshop events will be held at The Kansas State Historical Society & Museum:

6425 SW 6th Ave.
Topeka, KS 66615-1099
(Phone: 785.272.8681)

Parking: free on-site parking.

Directions are available at this link.


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 Sunday, 24 September 2017

12:30 - 1:00 Registration & Visiting
1:00 - 1:45 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.
1:45 - 2:45 Session 2: Volga German Architecture
When they immigrated to Russia in the 1760s, the Volga Germans brought with them the German architectural style of their ancestors. The Volga German colonies existed for 177 years, and the colonists incorporated many elements of local architectural style into their homes, churches, and public buildings.  We'll take a visual journey through this architectural evolution and look for examples of it in the Western Hemisphere as well.
3:00 - 4:00 Session 3: A 250th Anniversary Celebration
We'll take a look at the history of seven of Roman Catholic colonies that were founded along the Volga River in 1767: Göbel, Hildmann, Köhler, Leichtling, Pfeifer, Rothammel, and Sewald.  We will investigate their founding and development, their inhabitants, and their descendants.  We'll also take a look at what remains of them today.
4:00 - 5:00 Session 4: The 1921 Famine - A Story of Resilience
2017 marks the 100th Anniversary of the Bolshevik Revolution in Russia. Most Volga Germans had been supporters of the Tsar during the Revolution and consequently faired poorly during the early Soviet Years.  In this session, we'll examine the causes of the 1921 Russian famine, and its implications for the Volga Germans.  We'll also unpack the unpresidented and herioc efforts of those Volga Germans and their descendants living in North and South America to relieve the suffering of their comrades back in the Russian homeland, and what has become of the Volga Germans of today.

Area Hotels

The following website has listing of Topeka-area hotels: