Award Date


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)



First Committee Member

Cian McMahon

Second Committee Member

Andrew Kirk

Third Committee Member

Deirdre Clemente

Fourth Committee Member

Ralph Buechler

Number of Pages



In 1762 and 1763, Russian tsarina Catherine II issued manifestos encouraging foreign immigration throughout Russia, and received an overwhelming response from German farmers. These farmers, who would later be known as Russian Germans, Mennonites, or Volga Germans, quickly gained a reputation for their successful farming skills. As a result, following the Homestead Act of 1862, United States recruiters used promotional land advertisements to entice the farmers to migrate to the Midwest. The posters often depicted “open,” abundant lands in paradise. Upon arrival, however, the Volga Germans faced a reality starkly different from what the advertisements had promoted. This paper analyzes the recruitment of Volga Germans to the American Midwest during the mid-nineteenth century, and the impact that recruiters had on Volga German migration patterns. Recruiters prized the Volga Germans as immigrants similar to yet distinct from immigrants directly from Germany. In recruiting the farmers, however, the promotional posters depicted a paradise that did not always match the reality of the Midwest. Beyond the posters, contemporary American press coverage of the Volga Germans reflected the complicated realities that the posters failed to depict. Ultimately, in a web of recruiters and land promotion, the Volga Germans were caught between the myth and the reality of the American Midwest.


boosterism; immigration; Land promotion; midwest; recruitment; Volga Germans


European History | History | United States History

File Format


File Size

1131 KB

Degree Grantor

University of Nevada, Las Vegas




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