Schmaltz presents at Cherokee Strip Regional Heritage Center in Enid

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Schmaltz presents at Cherokee Strip Regional Heritage Center in Enid

 January 15, 2016

Dr. Eric Schmaltz Dr. Eric Schmaltz

The Cherokee Strip Regional Heritage Center in Enid recently invited Dr. Eric Schmaltz, professor of history at Northwestern Oklahoma State University and co-executive director of the university’s Institute for Citizenship Studies, to be the featured speaker at the museum’s Brown Bag Lunch and Learn Program.

The program is held onsite each month for the general public at the little church in the Humphrey Heritage Village. The discussion with PowerPoint was titled “Germans from Russia in Oklahoma and Family History Research.”

Schmaltz expressed his appreciation to Sarah Hardaway, museum assistant; Andi Holland, museum director; and Cody Jolliff, museum education director, for inviting him to speak and making all the necessary arrangements to hold this event.

“The turnout for this event was incredible,” Schmaltz said. “We were expecting perhaps 15 to 20 people to attend. As I arrived, I already realized that it was going to be a very strong turnout. I was informed shortly afterwards that over 80 people had attended the talk. We even had a number of young people attend with their parents. That is a real compliment to this region’s descendants of Germans from Russia who want to learn more about their family roots and ethnic heritage.”

Schmaltz offered a brief history of ethnic German migrations from Russia to Oklahoma during the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Numbering around 10,000-strong by 1920, the German-Russians, including among them many Mennonites, created a significant presence in the region, especially in the agricultural sector, even introducing here the hearty red winter wheat variety from Russia.

Besides highlighting the group’s various cultural and economic contributions to the region and the country, he concluded his talk with how individuals and families can keep alive their heritage story through genealogical research.
“Individual, family and even local community histories can later provide a good foundation for more comprehensive, professional historical accounts to be written,” Schmaltz noted.

Schmaltz will be presenting on related topics in Shattuck, and Reno, Nevada, later in the spring semester.

For more information about Schmaltz’s presentations contact him at (580) 327-8526 or