Obert Berke

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)




Interest In this topic, The Prussian Immigrant to the United States from 1790 to 1914, dates back to my childhood in a community in which the Russians made up three fourths of the population. Contact with the homesteaders and everyday political events of modern Russia has intensified this interest.

This large country with Its variety of nationalities has added and Is adding color to our own political, Industrial, social, and religious life. Russia is destined to play a larger part in international politics than ever before. Our own nation will also find it necessary to play politics with the giant of Europe and Asia,The people of a democracy should make themselves acquainted with the nature of the people and the government of Russia because of this new Importance.

This continent first felt the influence of Russia in Alaska over one-hundred-fifty years ago as the explorers and settlers from Russia proper spread across Asia, the Bering Strait, and to North America. Our government clashed with Russia over their penetration into the Oregon territory. In 1867 we purchased Alaska from Russia,In the Russo-Japanese war we built some ships for the Russian government and acted as mediator for Japan and Russia," In the World War I our contact was the last remnant of the Czarist regime.

an immigrant saw the building of the ship Retvison (Rarevich) at Philadelphia and later read the account of the sinking of this ship during the Russo-Japanese war.

In the second World War are dealt with a government which practiced collectivism which was in an experimental stage in the nineteenth century. Since 1917 we have looked critically at the Russian movement and its practices. This is mainly the result of differences in ideology between the two countries and the lack of information and understanding. The main purpose of this thesis is to add to the information that we have concerning Russia, and to stress the importance of this knowledge.

The information for this thesis was gathered by correspondence, interviews, and from other primary sad secondary sources. The interviews were limited by travel restrictions caused by the war, but emphasis was placed on the essential interviews.

One of the persons interviewed has done editorials for various magazines in the United states, He also owns a large library of Russian books and encyclopedias, newspapers, and magazines. Much of his information has been accumulated by means of correspondence with various officials of Russia.

Some documents were gathered in various parts of North Dakota. A great deal remains to be done along this line. It must be remembered that documents pertaining to politics were considered dangerous to carry out of Russia. If the Immigrants feared trouble because of these documents they were destroyed or tossed off the boat as it traveled across the Atlantic. However, so evidence of arrests resulting from these documents were mentioned, and it is sensible that fear alone promoted this action.

Chapter one deals with the conditions under which the Russian peasants lived in the second half of the nineteenth century. We all deplore the conditions under which the serfs were forced to live during serfdom. Serfdom in Russia lasted until the time of our own Civil War. After this time the Russian peasants were thrown into a condition far worse.

Under the feudal system he was clothed, sheltered and fed but following the Emancipation Acts the peasants were treated like a stubborn ass. If the obligations of the peasants were not met by the peasants, human care was left out. If he had no money to buy food with, that was his hard luck. If he went into debt, God have mercy on him. It is almost impossible for us to think that humans of Europe were treated like this seventy-five years ago.

The second chapter deals with the evaluation of the Russian government. It includes the main changes and their results, the exalting conditions end their effects on the people, but in main,it deals with local conditions. They are things that are not often found on the printed page.

The third chapter deals with education and its background. Education as seen under the focus of the common people when they attended school. A brief language background, the local set up of schools, the place of the church is education, and documentary evidence is given.

Chapter four deals with the church of Russia and its relation to other phases. Included in it are past religious activities, a brief history of the conversion of Basal a, shorts on the heathen gods, and some of the practices of the church. One of the immigrants a had visited the monastery of Kiev it and gave an interesting account of it. Criticisms of the church are else given in this chapter. It gives us some light on the anti-religious attitude of the present government of Russia. The Importance of the church is also stressed. In reality the church was the social hub of Russia.

In the next chapter the traditions of Russia are dealt with. Included in this chapter are stories of various mystical characters and an account of the two most important Church holidays. This chapter will help explain the actions of the early immigrants as well as repudiate certain false rumors.

Chapter six deals with the story of the immigrants in various outstanding cases as they left their mother country. Accounts of suffering and graft are related of Bessie and greater suffering when they reach the plains of North Dakota. Herein is a general division of immigrants according to the purpose of migration. Many tearful accounts of migration cannot possibly be related but samples are used to give a general picture of the conditions which existed.

The conclusion includes certain facts gathered and beliefs dispelled relating to the Russian Immigrant. A classification of the immigrants is given with dates of migration.