Remembering Harold Sayre

Today at 11 am we’re doing a little ceremony in memory of Harold Holden Sayre. For those of you who know your World War One history, the 11 am time has a certain significance. For those of you who read this blog, you know that our ceremony for Harold Sayre is part of the larger Wesley College Documentation Project

We’re live streaming the event on the Facebook Event Page here. You can download the program for the event here.

One of the great things about doing an event like this is the opportunity to thank everyone who made the Wesley College Documentation Project possible and especially my students in the WCDP Class.

Brian Larson and Michael Pieper at UND Facilities gave us remarkable access to these buildings and Brian served as a valued interpreter of the structures. Richard Rothaus, Kostis Kourelis, Joe Vacek, and Gordon Iseminger, walked through the buildings with us and helped us see things we’d have otherwise missed (literally and virtually). The UND Archives at the Chester Fritz Library’s Department of Special Collections patiently allowed us to move through their collection. Dana Sande and Bret Weber of the Grand Forks City Council, Anna Rand the UND student intern at the City of Grand Forks, and Jeff Wencl of the Grand Forks Historic Preservation Commission connected us to the community and the Grand Forks Air Force Base. Sheila Liming provided us with music today and Michael Wittgraf graciously recorded and performed at the final concert in Corwin Hall earlier this spring. 

Susan Caraher coordinated the moving parts of the today’e event, worked tirelessly to document the buildings with photographs and video, and served as the registrar for the data that the Wesley College Documentation Project collected.  


Excerpt from Poem from his Pilot at the Front,
Lt. Horace Shidler, U.S. Air Service, Returned Prisoner of War

And here the sadness of it begins,
As I tell this story to you;
And the sadness felt by me,
Is seldom felt by few.

Harold Sayre was a man of men,
Proud was I that he should be;
The man that handled the guns,
The protected the aft of we.

He was shot and fell against the tarrell,
And held by the belt around him;
For aft protection I knew I had none,
And I felt so helpless without him.

How my own flesh wounds are almost well,
And soon will be no more;
But the wound in my hear will never heal
For it reaches to the very core.

As I sit here now, alone in my cell
My eyes dim till it is hard to see;
Remembering the look on his pitiful face,
When he looked up at me.

Strange things happen in peace or war,
To this we’ll all agree;
Oh God! If one of us had to go,
The Lord why wasn’t it me!

But now you have chosen me to stay
In this land of joy and trouble;
Let me live and raise a boy to be,
A “Harold Sayre’s” double.

Remembering Harold Sayre and Wesley College

For all my readers in Grand Forks or Fargo, please consider joining us  at 11 AM on Thursday May 3, 2018, in front of Sayre Hall on campus, for a small ceremony to recognize the sacrifice of Harold Holden Sayre. Sayre was killed in 1918 at the Battle of Saint-Mihiel and in 1919, Sayre Hall was renamed in his memory. The Wesley College buildings on the UND campus will be razed this summer.

MemVol SAYRE pdf  SECURED 2018 05 01 07 39 25

The event will be and should run for about a half an hour. We’ve set up a Facebook event page. Do let us know if you plan to attend so we can make sure to have enough seating!

It will bring together representatives from the Grand Forks Air Force Base (Sayre was in the Army Air Service), the city of Grand Forks, the Wesleyan community, and the university with brief remarks from various individuals and a bit of music. 

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This event is part of the Wesley College Documentation Project which is a collaboration between the history department at UND, UND Facilities, and the UND Honors. Honors students have spent hours this semester documenting the Wesley College buildings and digging through UND’s Special Collections at the Chester Fritz library to understand the unique history of the four Wesley College buildings and their donors.

Readers of this blog are likely aware that I’ve been producing fairly regular reports on our work in the Wesley College buildings. I’ve also produced a collection of letters from Wesley College president emeritus, Edward Robertson, written in 1935 amid a financial crisis at the college. You can download those here. Finally, I’ve put together this little two-page brief on Harold Sayre and Wesley College. You can download that here.

Come Hear about Micah Bloom’s Codex!

If you’re a North Dakota reader, you should make plans to come over the the North Dakota Museum of Art on Friday, December 8th at 3 pm to hear a panel on Micah Bloom’s Codex featuring Micah Bloom (Minot State University), Thora Brylowe (University of Colorado-Boulder), David Haeselin (UND), Sheila Liming (UND), and Brian Schill (North Dakota Quarterly).

It’s part of the College of Arts and Sciences A-ha! Lecture Series and co-sponsored by The Digital Press at the University of North Dakota and North Dakota Quarterly.

Here’s the flyer:

Codex Flyer 2017

Here’s the press release:

Book Release Event for Micah Bloom’s Codex 

The Digital Press at the University of North Dakota is proud to partner with the College of Arts and Sciences and North Dakota Quarterly in announcing the publication of Micah Bloom’s Codex at a public event hosted by the North Dakota Museum of Art on 8 December at 3pm. The event is part of the College of Arts and Sciences A-ha! Lecture Series. 

Micah Bloom’s Codex explores the fate of books in the aftermath of the devastating 2011 Minot Flood. Bloom, a professor of art at Minot State University, painstakingly photographed, collected, and recycled hundreds of books and this work became the basis of a film (2013) and an art installation (2015). 

This year the Digital Press published two versions of Codex that combined Micah’s photographs with a series of scholarly and reflective essays. The first was a large-format, limited-edition, fine-art book made available to wide audience as a digital download. The Digital Press has also published a low-cost trade paperback version of the book available at   

The publisher, William Caraher (UND Department of History), connected with Bloom after seeing his 2015 exhibit at the North Dakota Museum of Art: “Micah’s haunting photos captured an event historically rooted in a time and place – 2011, Minot, ND – but by focusing on books, he made it speak to much more universal concerns. The destruction of the flood is brought home in an intimate way through Micah’s photographs and treatment of books. So it made sense for us to capture the exhibit /collaborate in this way.” 

The North Dakota Museum of Art will host a roundtable discussion featuring the artist, and three collaborators: David Haeselin (UND, English), Sheila Liming (UND, English), and Thora Brylowe (University of Colorado- Boulder, English) will join Micah in a discussion of his work moderated by North Dakota Quarterly‘s Brian Schill. 

David Haeselin, who contributed to the book, remarked that “the essays help bridge the gap between scholarship of material culture studies, book history, and eco-criticism.”Haeselin’s course in Writing and Editing in the Department of English collaborated with The Digital Press to produce the book. Haeselin goes on to say “Student copy-editors were asked to work on a real book going to press. This meant that they had to fact-check and mark up their teachers’ writing, me included. Once they got past the awkwardness, they learned how to manage author-editor relationships, a core responsibility of any editor.” 

Bloom comments on this opportunity, “It has been a joy to find so much local support for this project . . . and to now have a way to share a bit of our story with a larger audience. It’s such an honor.” 

To download or purchase Codex or watch the films go here:

For more on the Digital Press go here:

Micah Bloom and Codex in Minot

If you’re in the Minot, North Dakota area, you should make a point to come and check out my presentation with Micah Bloom, the author of the very soon to be released book Codex from the Digital Press at the University of North Dakota, Friday, November 3, at 12. I’ll be joining Micah and three contributors to the book, Bethany Andreasen, Ryan Stander, and Robert Kibler in Minot State University’s Aleshire Theater. 

I’m pretty excited to head out West, and while my visit with my colleagues at Minot State will be short, I’m looking forward to catching up with Ryan Stander, who worked with us one summer at Koutsopetria as our artist in residence. Unfortunately the online exhibit associated with Ryan’s ran out of funding here at UND, but I have the images and the essays associated with the project and still think about doing something with them.

Micah has been the consummate collaborator on the Codex project and has literally worked on every part of the project from the layout and design of the book to helping edit the essays and strategizing publicity for the event. In many ways, Codex was the ultimate example of cooperative publishing with students from David Haeselin’s writing and publishing class lending a hand in copy editing, Micah and his crew chipping in on layout, and my little outfit working on the production side of things.

So, please check out my talk on Friday!

Here’s the flyer:

Caraher Bloom Minot

And, if you’re still reading, do click this link.

Fractured Land Author to Speak at the University of North Dakota

On Thursday, October 30th, Lisa Peters the author of Fractured Lands will speak in the East Asia Room of the Mighty Chester Fritz Library.  The book has received a positive review from the Minneapolis Star Tribune and I’ve offered my thoughts on it here.


While making a poster for the book, I took a few minutes to think about the font used on the cover. I think it’s a version of Cochin, but it’s clearly a transitional serif font. I suspect the use of this font for book covers is designed to evoke the cover of Larry Potter books which used a version of Cochin to evoke the fantastic and anachronistic world of the young wizard (or whatever he is). As someone who wrote a fairly long dissertation and endless articles under the oppressive gaze of Times New Roman, I’m sort of over transitional serif fonts. I can vaguely grasp the point of it on the cover. I suppose it is designed to evoke tensions between her father’s fascination with North Dakota oil and her own desire to move forward into a greener, more environmentally friendly world.  

Ironically, the book is set in a modern serif font, Escrow, made famous by the Wall Street Journal. I thought that was a nice touch, considering the topic of the book! I might have dumped the Larry Potteresque title and run an old style serif font like Garamond throughout. I like the intimacy of the Classical/Old Style fonts and I think they’d be fitting for a memoire. 

Font situation aside, her talk should be good fun. I’m donating some of my time from North Dakota Humanities Council affairs to organizing this talk, so it’s sponsored by the NDHC.

Here’s the link to the live stream on the day of the talk.


Matthew Kirschenbaum Lecture at UND Today

The UND Working Group in Digital & New Media is happy to present “Track Changes: A Literary History of Word Processing,” A Virtual Talk by Matthew Kirschenbaum. The talk is free and open to the public and will take place at 4pm on Wednesday, April 16 in the East Asian Room in the Chester Fritz Library. You should be able to stream his talk here.

KirschenbaumFlyer pdf

Matthew G. Kirschenbaum is Associate Professor in the Department of English at the University of Maryland and Associate Director of the Maryland Institute for Technology in the Humanities (MITH, an applied think tank for the digital humanities). He is also an affiliated faculty member with the Human-Computer Interaction Lab at Maryland, and a member of the teaching faculty at the University of Virginia’s Rare Book School. Kirschenbaum served as the first director of the new Digital Cultures and Creativity living/learning program in the Honors College at Maryland.

A 2011 Guggenheim Fellow, Kirschenbaum specializes in digital humanities, electronic literature and creative new media (including games), textual studies, and postmodern/experimental literature. He has a Ph.D. in English from the University of Virginia, and was trained in humanities computing at Virginia’s Electronic Text Center and Institute for Advanced Technology in the Humanities (where he was the Project Manager of the William Blake Archive). His dissertation was the first electronic dissertation in the English department at Virginia and one of the very first in the nation.

Kirschenbaum’s first book, Mechanisms: New Media and the Forensic Imagination, was published by the MIT Press in early 2008 and went on to receive numerous awards. Kirschenbaum serves on the editorial or advisory boards of a number of projects and publications, including Postmodern Culture, Text Technology, Textual Cultures, MediaCommons, and futureArch. His work has received coverage in the Atlantic, New York Times, National Public Radio, Wired, Boing Boing, Slashdot, and the Chronicle of Higher Education. For more information, see his website.

A Lecture Today and The Magic of Bonus Points

At 4 pm today, the Working Group in Digital and New Media is hosting Ed Ayers, Professor of History and President of the University of Richmond, for a talk titled “20 Years in Digital History” at the Gorecki Alumni Center on the beautiful, spring-drenched campus of the University of North Dakota. For more details, check out the flyer at the bottom of this post.

Following regular procedure, we encouraged students to attend, then we cajoled them to doing something on campus that was free and better than whatever they had planned to do instead, then as the excuses roll in (work, class, family, everyday life, cereal, whatever), we finally resort to bribery. 

Traditionally, I’ve offered 1 million points to students who attend campus events like ice hockeying contests, weekend parties, and, of course, academic lectures. I’ll do almost anything to encourage students to engage in the life of campus. The key thing about these points is that they are not just ordinary points; they’re bonus points.

Bonus points are magical. While mathematically they work the same as regular points, they have an allure that can draw even the most disengaged student to a torpid ice hockeying contest or the most anti-intellectual curmudgeon to a on campus lecture. To use the words of contemporary university administration, bonus points are “transformational.”

The remarkable thing is, bonus points are like Dumbo’s feather. They really aren’t any different from the normal points that students consistently disregard, mock, resist, and ultimately hemorrhage over the course of a semester. For example, my history 101 class is rapt by the potential bonus points earned at the lecture tonight. This is the same class where I have to constantly remind students to put their names on the work they submit for ordinary points.

I suppose the magic of bonus points is that they preserve the illusion of being something for nothing. This is the same class where students take significant exception to the possibility that a student in their group would get credit (ordinary points, mind you), without doing their share of work. They will gladly accept bonus points, however, on the allure of getting something for nothing.

In any event, I decided to offer these same bonus points to anyone who attends the lecture, whether they are in my class or not. 

Ayers Talk Flyer pdf


Some up coming events

While usually I recommend that people spend their time reading my blog, other blogs, or waiting for my blog or other blogs to post, I do concede that occasionally folks need to go out and, you know, do stuff.

Fortunately, there is stuff to do next week here in Grand Forks, North Dakota. First, there is the 45th Annual Writers’ Conference which will take place that the North Dakota Museum of Art on the beautiful campus of the University of North Dakota. The theme is “Imagine: A Literary Festival on the Prairie” and here’s a link to the schedule for it.

It has a sweet poster:

2014 WC poster

But, wait, there’s more! On April 9th the Working Group in Digital and New media is hosting Ed Ayers, digital history pioneer and President of the University of Richmond, at the Gorecki Alumni Center at 4 pm.

Here’s the press release:

Leader in Digital History Comes to Campus… Virtually

On April 9th noted Civil War historian and digital pioneer Edward Ayers, President of the University of Richmond, will look back on “20 Years of Digital History”. As is fitting for a pioneer in digital history, Ayers will visit campus digitally via a live video feed from the University of Richmond’s campus. His talk will present a sweeping overview of the developments in digital history.

President Ayers talk coincides with the ongoing commemoration of the 150th anniversary of the Civil War. Professor Eric Burin, UND’s own Civil War Historian and historical database guru, noted:

“Ayers’s is one of the premier scholars on the Civil War Era. His “Valley of the Shadow” project revolutionized research on the Civil War. It not only made available countless historical documents; it allowed researchers to navigate those documents in an almost infinite number of ways. Thanks to Ayers’s path-breaking work, every researcher can offer “alternative readings” of the war.”

Ayers’ work in digital history has received national accolades including the 2013 National Medal for the Humanities awarded by Barak Obama in the White House, the Bancroft Prize, Beveridge Prize, and has been a finalist for the National Book Award and the Pulitzer Prize. As a teacher he has been recognized as the National Professor of the Year from the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching and his digital history projects have been used in classrooms around the world. He is also the co-host of BackStory, a nationally syndicated radio show that ties history to the present day.

The talk is sponsored by the Working Group in Digital and New Media and the College of Arts and Sciences. Joel Jonientz, Associate Professor of Art and Design and the Chair of the Working Group in Digital and New Media, notes that the innovative ways of bring a speaker like Ayers to UND is :

“.. fitting that we’re using digital technology to bring one of the most renowned digital historians to campus. It gives the UND community the chance to interact and learn from a global scholar in the humanities, and to think about the future of the past.”

Cyprus Research Fund Lecture Tomorrow: Archaeologies of Décor by Dr. Sarah Lepinski

Despite dueling blizzards here and on the east coast, the Cyprus Research Fund Lecture appears to be on schedule (more or less) to go off as planned tomorrow.

We got a snazzy write-up on the campus news feed and we have a snazzy flyer:

CyprusResearchFund2014 pdf

For those of you in the neighborhood, you need to brave the cold and come  and check out the talk at 4 pm tomorrow in the East Asia Room of the Mighty Chester Fritz Library.

For those of you on the East Coast, recovering from sinus surgery, or in Denver for the ice hockeying contests, you can listen to the LIVE feed of the talk right here.

Making an App for That: A Conversation with Sam Fee on Developing In-field Applications for Archaeology

On Friday at 11 am, Prof. Sam Fee, from Washington and Jefferson College will speak via the internets with the UND community in the Working Group in Digital and New Media Lab (O’Kelly 203). His talk is titled “Making an App for That: A conversation with Prof. Samuel Fee on developing in-field applications for archaeology”. The talk will be a conversation between me, Sam, and anyone who wants to join us from the audience.

I’ve known Sam Fee for over 20 years and he has an inspiring knack for making the complex simple and teaching archaeological methods, practices, and theories. He was one of the first archaeological bloggers who I followed regularly, and I have admired his accomplishments as a photographer

At UND, he’ll talk about the development of the PKApp which is the Pyla-Koutsopetria Archaeological Project’s custom web/tablet application for trench side data collection.  We alpha/beta tested this summer on a bunch of iPad generously provided by Messiah College and wrote a short descriptive and technical piece on our experiences for Near Eastern Archaeology (that I think will appear this month).   

So come by the Working Group Lab (O’Kelly 203) at 11 am on Friday to check out Sam Fee.