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McNair Scholars Program

Vicky (Hanning) Cassem, M.A.

She/her

Education: Bachelor of Arts in modern languages and Spanish (May 2000)

Master of Arts in modern languages from Kansas State University

McNair Project: A Comparison Between the Dialects of Volga Germans and the Mennonites of South Russia in Kansas (1999)

Mentor: Carole Miller, Ph.D.

Volga Germans began arriving in Kansas in the 1870's, with a history of migration behind them. The Volgas originally migrated from several regions of present day Germany -- such as Bavaria, Hessen, and the Palatinate -- to the Volga Region of Russia in the 1760's. Remaining in the Volga Region for over one hundred years and becoming the farmers of the Steppe had an influence on their language. Since they remained for the most part quite isolated from their Russian neighbors they did not get assimilated into the Russian culture or language, but there were a number of Russian loan words adopted by the Volga Germans. Most of the information in this study was acquired at the University of Kansas in an attempt to answer a number of questions. Why did the Volga Germans migrate to the Russian Steppes and just over a hundred years later leave? During their second migration why did the Volgas choose to migrate to Kansas? What effect did each of these migrations have on the language of these people? The Volgas kept most of their language intact until they came to the United States. Today it has become difficult to find a group of Volga Germans in Kansas that do not use English as their primary language.