Bibliography for Prairie Earth, Prairie Homes







Dick, Everett

The Sod-House Frontier, 1854-1890: A Social History of the Northern Plains from the Creation of Kansas & Nebraska to the Admission of the Dakotas

New York: D. Appelton-Century, 1937

A pioneering work of social history that broke the pattern of academic historians, who largely focused on male, economic elements of the pioneer experience.


Becker, Ted J.

“Steppe and Prairie ‘Sod’ Houses”

Heritage Review 31 (March 2001): 18-20


Reserve Readings

Hudson, John

“Frontier Housing in North Dakota

North Dakota History 42 (1975): 4-15


Reserve Readings

Carlson, Alvar W.

“German-Russian Houses in Western North Dakota

Pioneer America 13 (1981)


Full Text at GRHC

Burns, Christina Grimsrud

“Power, Gender, and Organization of Space: A Comparison between Extended Coalescent Hidatsa and Crow Women and the Structures in Which They Lived”

Thesis, North Dakota State University, 2004



Carter, John E.

Solomon D. Butcher: Photographing the American Dream

Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1985


Solomon D. Butcher Collection, Nebraska State Historical Society

Welsch, Roger L.

Sod Walls: The Story of the Nebraska Sod House

Broken Bow: Purcells, 1968

A thoroughgoing study of material culture, based on the Solomon Butcher Collection of photographs.

Solomon D. Butcher Collection, Nebraska State Historical Society

Roper, Donna C., and Elizabeth P. Pauls, Eds.

Plains Earthlodges: Ethnographic and Archeological Perspectives

Tuscaloosa: University of Alabama Press, 2005



Koop, Michael, and Carolyn Torma

Folk Building of the South Dakota German-Russians

Videotape, Vermillion: South Dakota Preservation Office,1984



Koop, Michael, and Stephen Ludwig

German-Russian Folk Architecture in Southeastern South Dakota

Slide collection with cassette tape and script, Vermillion: State Historical Preservation Center, 1984



Upton, Dell, Ed.

America’s Architectural Roots: Ethnic Groups that Built America

Washington: Preservation Press, 1986

See pp. 130-35 for “German-Russians,” by Michael Koop; pp. 160-65 for “Ukraininans,” by John C. Lehr.

Reserve Readings


·         Koop

·         Lehr

Murphy, David

"Building in Clay on the Central Plains”

Perspectives in Vernacular Architecture 3 (1982): 74-98



Rozum, Molly Patrick

"'It's Weathered Many a Storm—Many a Wind Storm': The Sod House in Northwestern South Dakota, 1900 to 1990"

Thesis, University of North CarolinaChapel Hill, 1993

This detailed study of sod houses in Harding County is particularly notable for its exploration of the meaning of sod in regional culture—the values associated with sod as opposed to wood, the implications of permanence or impermanence, connotations of civilization or wildness.

Reserve Readings

Height, Joseph S.

Paradise on the Steppe: A Cultural History of the Kutschurgen, Beresan, and Liebental Colonists, 1804-1944

Bismarck: North Dakota Historical Society of Germans from Russia, 1972

Height ranks foremost among the American chroniclers of the old-country experience of the Black Sea Germans. His major work comprises the trilogy here listed: Paradise treating the Catholic colonies, Homesteaders the Protestant, and Memories collecting primary and ephemeral accounts of the colonists. Some of the cultural material in Homesteaders replicates that in Paradise. Both works include brief treatment of pioneer Semeljanka and of more developed colonist houses, many also of earth.



Homesteaders on the Steppe: Cultural History of the Evangelical-Lutheran Colonies in the Region of Odessa, 1804-1945

Bismarck: North Dakota Historical Society of Germans from Russia, 1972


Memories of the Black Sea Germans: Highlights of Their History and Heritage

Associated German-Russian Sponsors, 1979

Sallet, Richard

Russian-German Settlements in the United States, trans. By LaVern J. Rippley and Armand Bauer

Fargo: North Dakota Institute for Regional Studies, 1974

Despite the taint of his Nazi associations, and despite occasional factual errors, Sallet’s work is an invaluable survey of GfR settlement in the US. Of particular value here is the appended essay by William C. Sherman, “Prairie Architecture of the Russian-German Settlers,” pp. 185-95.


Arends, Shirley Fischer

The Central Dakota Germans: Their History, Language, and Culture

Washington: Georgetown University Press, 1989

While linguistic in focus, Arends’s work also presents solid “remembered” historical background and, through language, explores folkways.


Rath, George

The Black Sea Germans in the Dakotas

Freeman: Pine Hill Press, 1977

Primarily a chronicle of who settled where and when, and valuable in that respect.


Sherman, William C., and Playford V. Thorson, Eds.

Plains Folk: North Dakota’s Ethnic History

Fargo: North Dakota Institute for Regional Studies, 1988

The best, concise introduction to the Germans from Russia in North Dakota is to be found in the “Volksdeutsche” chapter, pp. 117-81, by Timothy J. Kloberdanz.


Lalonde, Shirley Byers

Addison House”

Folklore (Saskatchewan History & Folklore Society) Spring 2005: 37-38


Reserve Readings

Widner, Ronna Lee

“Sod Houses of Rawlins County, Kansas

MA Thesis, George Washington University, 1988

A close study of five sod houses constructed by Czech settlers in one rural neighborhood. Widner’s main point is that in this case, the sod house was not considered a temporary expedient, but rather a prudent and practical form for the long term.

Reserve Readings

Gates, Donald S.

“The Sod House”

Journal of Geography 32 (December 1933): 353-59



Mears, Louise W.

“The Sod House as a Form of Shelter: Where? What? Why?”

Journal of Geography 14 (June 1916): 385-89


Reserve Readings

Alberts, Frances Jacobs, Ed.

Sod House Memories: Volumes I-II-III

Sod House Society, 1972

Collection of sketches and reminiscences from a Nebraska association founded to commemorate the sod-house experience—many highlighting the phrase, “I was born in a sod house.”

Reserve Readings

Oringderff, Barbara

True Sod: Sod Houses of Kansas

North Newton: Mennonite Press, 1976

A compilation of photographs, with analysis and commentary, from across Kansas.


Barns, Cass G.

The Sod House


F666 .B25 1970


Guilliford, Andrew

“Earth Architecture of the Prairie Pioneer”

Midwest Review


Reserve Readings

Kear, V.A.

Sod Houses and

Dugouts in North America

Colby: Prairie Printers, 1971


Reserve Readings

Noble, Allen G.

“Frontier Settlement on the Plains: Sod Dugouts and Sod Houses”



Reserve Readings

Welsch, Roger

“The Meaning of Folk Architecture: The Sod House Example”

Keystone Folklore Quarterly


Reserve Readings

Francis, E.K.

“The Mennonite Farmhouse in Manitoba”

Mennonite Quarterly Review 28 (1954): 56-59


Reserve Readings

Noble, Allen G.

“Sod Houses and Similar Structures”

Pioneer America 13 (1981): 61-66


Reserve Readings

Echoing Trails II: Billings County History

Medora: Billings County Historical Society, 2003.

This local history includes an excellent description of the building of a Ukrainian earth-pack house.


Gates, Donald S.

“The Sod House”

Journal of Geography 32 (December 1933): 353-59


Reserve Readings


Prairie Earth, Prairie Homes