Sixty Years of Boom and Bust: The Impact of Oil in North Dakota, 1958–2018

Over the last year, I’ve been whispering about this project a bit. Kyle Conway is editing an updated version of The Williston Report: The Impact of Oil on the Williston Area of North Dakota (1958), and The Digital Press at the University of North Dakota will republish both original report and an updated slate of essays. The updated version will be titled Sixty Years of Boom and Bust The Impact of Oil in North Dakota, 1958–2018, and it will become a contributing volume to the Bakken Bookshelf and sit nice alongside The Bakken Goes Boom: Oil and the Changing Geographies of Western North Dakota (2016). 

Campbell et al 1958 dragged

If you’re interested in the original report, which anyone interested in North Dakota history should read. There’s a digital copy of the book available from The Digital Press’s page on the Internet Archive here (and if you’re interested in a paper copy one is available from Re-Ink Books in Delhi, India). 

Kyle Conway has sent me a little peek at the table of contents for the new version of the book. It looks fantastic:

I. INTRODUCTION

1. Introduction: Sixty Years of Boom and Bust (2018), by Kyle Conway
2. Introduction and Summary (1958), by Bernt L. Wills, Ross B. Talbot, Samuel C. Kelley, Jr., and Robert B. Campbell

II. PHYSICAL GEOGRAPHY
3. Physical Attributes of the Area (1958), by Bernt L. Wills
4. The Geographic Setting of the Bakken Oil Shale Play (2018), by Bradley C. Rundquist and Gregory S. Vandeberg 

III. POLITICS
5. Political Impact (1958), by Ross B. Talbot
6. Political Impacts (2018), by Andrea Olive

IV. ECONOMY
7. The Economic Impact of Oil Development (1958), by Samuel C. Kelley, Jr.
8. The Economic Consequences of Oil Development (2018), by David Flynn

V. SOCIAL CHANGE
9. Social Change in the Basin (1958), by Robert B. Campbell
10. Social Impacts of Oil Development (2018), by Rick Ruddell and Heather Ray
11. Making Home in the Bakken Oil Patch (2018), by William Caraher and Bret Weber
12. Drinking, Drugs, and Long Waits: Community Members’ Perceptions of Living in a North Dakotan Boomtown (2018), by Karin L. Becker
13. Boomtown Bias: Reflections on the Past, Present, and Future of North Dakota’s Commercial Sex Laws (2018), by Nikki Berg Burin

VI. APPENDICES
Appendix A: Methodology Note (1958)
Appendix B: Supplementary Tables (1958)

Kyle has also been playing around with the cover and grabbed a great photograph of Williston on his last visit to the area.

SixtyYearsCoverDraft

Ideally the book will drop toward the end of this year, but we’re probably dealing with the “long 2018” for this volume with an early 2019 publication date, but judging by the table of contents, I’m pretty sure that this book will be worth the wait.

Making the Book: Protesting on Bended Knee

The essays have been copy edited, sent back to their authors, and some have even been returned to the publisher! Eric Burin’s Protesting on Bended Knee: Race, Dissent and Patriotism in 21st Century America, is slipping gently into the production phase at The Digital Press at the University of North Dakota.

Yesterday morning, I started to think about how the book would look. I will keep the book at the 5.5 x 8.5 size to keep some continuity with Eric’s Picking the President from 2017. I’ve made the margins a bit more generous on the inside of the page to give the text block a little more room from the binding. I will keep the formality of the Janson font because it suits the seriousness of the books topic. 

As for the first page of every chapter, Eric suggested that we try to use a font that evokes the Civil Rights era posters from the 1960s. Like everyone, I immediately grabbed an image of the famous I AM A MAN poster.

Download

Of course, it was likely wood type or even hand lettered like many of the posters of that era, so it was a bit of a non starter. I did try a vaguely art deco Rosina, that I used on the cover of Haunted by Waters.

Protesting TemplateDraft4 copy

I’m not sure that this font really works even if I do love the low strokes on the E (and, on the A which would evoke the low stroke on the “A” in I AM A MAN.)

For all the pages, I’d like to continue my emerging house style of using a small icon next to the title of each contribution. In this case, I’m using the fist from the cover of the book, which I think will be rendered in a bit less of a sketchy style in the final version. It will also evoke the Black Power protests at the 1968 Olympics on October 16th, which will coincide with out release date for the book. 

Protesting cover1

I think I’ll go with a simpler sans serif font for the chapter titles. I’ve recently been enamored with FF Meta (which would allow for a little unintentional trolling, if you know the recent history of this font’s use).

Protesting TemplateDraft5 copy

I also need to breathe some more room into the header of the page. I am trying to get a bit more sensitive in my use of negative space to create both balance on the page and as a form of emphasis without changing font sizes and weights. (I have this idea that for some project in the future using the same fonts and sizes throughout using only all caps and negative space for for emphasis).

Protesting TemplateDraft6 copy

The single fine line beneath the title gives it a bit of a 1990s vibe. I might leave it out of the final version, but for nostalgic reasons (I spent most of the 1990s with my head buried in a book!), I’ll leave it in for now.

As always, I post this stuff here because I want feedback (and praise, of course, but also I also enjoy snarky criticism!). 

 

Burin Talks Kaepernick on Jack Russell Weinstein’s Why? Radio Show

If you didn’t catch Eric Burin talking about his new book on Colin Kaepernick on the olde tyme wireless last night, don’t worry! You can hear Eric and Jack Russell Weinstein discuss Eric’s new book project, Protesting on Bended Knee: Race, Dissent, and Patriotism in 21st Century America which pulls together over 30 papers dealing with Colin Kaepernick, protest, and race in America. 

Here’s a link to the podcast version fo the show. (Here’s the version that was broadcast live.)

Eric burine 2

Here’s a blurb about the radio show from the Why? Radio page:

America is in the midst of a ferocious debate about protests on the football field. Quarterback Colin Kaepernick started kneeling during the national anthem to call attention to police brutality against African Americans, inspiring others to do the same. Some think he is justified, others claim he is just a belligerent employee. On this episode, we look at the philosophical issues behind this debate, and have a discussion that focuses on race, sports, patriotism, the history of the United States, and the nature of democracy itself.

Eric Burin is a Professor History at the University of North Dakota who works on American history, with special attention to slavery and race. He is the author of the book Slavery and the Peculiar Solution and the editor of the free collection Picking the President: Understanding the Electoral College which is available to download for free (or purchase in paper!). He is also the editor of an upcoming collection on the football protests, which will also be available for free, here.

And, if you want more about the book project, check out a preview essay, and to download your copy when the book appears, go and drop a bookmark on this link.

Protesting cover

Eric Burin on Colin Kaepernick on Why? Radio

I’m pretty excited for the next couple months at The Digital Press at the University of North Dakota. We have a few books in the pipeline that will appeal to a wide range of readers.

Next week, Eric Burin will appear on Jack Russell Weinstein’s Why? Radio show that broadcasts on Prairie Public Radio and appears regularly as a podcast. The show will air on July 8 at 5 pm Central. Eric will talk about his next book, Protesting on Bended Knee: Dissent and Patriotism in 21st Century America, which will appear from the Digital Press this fall. You can check out a preview from the book here

(Eric will be a repeat offender with the Digital Press this fall. His first book, Picking the President: Understanding the Electoral College is kind of a big deal.)

Protesting Cover

The book (and here I’m quoting from the little blurb): “eyes the modern crusade for racial equality through the prism of the demonstrations associated with Colin Kaepernick, a professional football player who in 2016 began kneeling during the national anthem to draw attention to discrimination and injustice.” It brings together over 30 essays that consider Kaepernick’s protests and the underlying issues from a wide range of perspectives. 

Jack Russell Weinstein, the host of the Why? radio show asks: “The next episode of Why? Radio will ask whether NFL players have a right to kneel during the national anthem. We will discuss the morality of their actions and the political, moral, racial, and economic context that inspires their protests. Send us your questions for our guest Eric Burin, editor of the upcoming book Protesting on Bended Knee.” 
 
You can send your questions by 11 am, July 5 to: askwhy@und.edu

Preview Friday at The Digital Press

I know that Friday is traditionally reserved for my quick hits and varia, but the last couple of summers, I’ve taken a bit of a break from that. 

I do want to send along something to read over the long weekend, though.

The Digital Press at the University of North Dakota is offering a timely preview of a project that will appear this fall: Eric Burin’s Protesting on Bended Knee. This book brings together a diverse group of 30 voices writing about the roots, politics, history, and social impact of Colin Kaepernick’s protests. 

Check out the preview here and stay tuned for some more sneak peaks over the next couple of months!

PoBK Draft Cover

The Letters of Edward P. Roberston of Wesley College

This semester, I’ve been working with a remarkable group of students on the Wesley College Documentation Project. The goal of this project is to document the four buildings on campus associated with Wesley College, a unique co-institutional college that worked alongside UND to provide music, religious education, and housing for students enrolled in both UND and Wesley College. As part of that project, I’ve spent a good bit of time with the Wesley College papers and have become transfixed by the work and personality of the College’s first president, Edward P. Robertson. I thought I might share some of his personality with a wider audience by putting together a dossier of his letters from 1935, five years after he had retired as president of Wesley College. The letters were written during the Great Depression when the fate of Wesley College was anything but certain. Robertson’s dedication, persistence, and charm comes through in these letters composed during these difficult times. 

Here’s the link. This is just a first draft of this work. Here’s my temporary cover with the preface below: 

LettersRobertsonCover6 01

The Letters of Edward Robertson, President Emeritus, Wesley College, from 1935

Preface

This collection of letters by Dr. Edward P. Robertson is the first draft of a hazy idea that I’ll attempt to explain in this short preface.

Dr. Edward Peter Robertson was the first president of Wesley College in Grand Forks, North Dakota. He was hired by the board of trustees of Red River Valley University in Whapeton, North Dakota in 1899. After a few years in Whapeton, he and the board decided that Grand Forks, North Dakota offered better opportunities for an institution of higher learning, and he successfully oversaw the moving of Red River Valley University from Whapeton to Grand Forks, where he rechristened it, Wesley College, in 1905. The reasons for this move are both complex and simple. Robertson felt that there was a better chance for the college to attract students and raise the necessary funds to operate if it were closer to the center of the state’s population which was largely concentrated in the Red River valley. From early on, Roberston recognized the importance of raising money from donors for Wesley College to succeed, and this understanding would shape his presidency and legacy.

This is not to suggest that he neglected the intellectual and spiritual aspects of running a Methodist College. In fact, the other reason that he founded Wesley College in Grand Forks was because of a remarkable arrangement he struck with the President of the University of North Dakota, Webster Merrifield. Merrifield and Robertson agreed that Wesley College would offer housing and courses for University of North Dakota students in religion, music, and elocution and expression and that these courses would count for credit at UND.

In 1908, 1909, and 1910, the first of three buildings at Wesley College opened, Sayre Hall, Larimore Hall, and Corwin Hall. The first two were men’s and women’s dormitories respectively and the third offered space for the music program and university offices. It is no exaggeration to say that in its first two decades, Wesley College moved from strength to strength with programs regularly enrolling as many as 400 students at various levels. They also maintained the attention of loyal and generous donors who ensured that the College had more than tuition and housing fees alone could provide.

The 1920s and early-1930s, however, were more difficult times. The agricultural crisis of the 1920s was bad for North Dakota, Wesley College students, and local donors. This did not discourage Robertson from securing funding from John Milton Hancock for the construction of what would become Robertson Hall which opened in 1930 and which completed a plan for the Wesley College first conceived in 1905.

The same year also saw Robertson’s retirement from the office of President of Wesley College, but the onset of the Great Depression and the worsening of the College’s financial situation, meant that his services were more needed than ever. Almost as soon as he had retired, the 70-year-old Robertson began to canvass his long-time donors for the increasingly urgent needs of the College. Unfortunately, many of these families suffered from the same economic woes as so many Americans and could no longer afford the same generosity that they had shown in the past. More troubling still is that some of the long-time supporters of the College had begun to question whether this undertaking would survive.

Frank Lynch, one of the more devoted supporters of Wesley College, withdrew his support and then agreed to donate more only if Wesley College could raise some funds first. Unfortunately, the details of this agreement remain a bit obscure (although some or another document may well emerge from the archives illuminating the agreement in detail). It appears as though Lynch offered Wesley College $150,000 in his will for an endowment in addition to $25,000 which he would make available immediately if College’s could manage to raise the necessary funds to pay its debt of $60,000 and to cover operating expenses. Using this offer, Robertson began a letter writing campaign to raise the needed funds.

The letters published here come from the Wesley College Papers (UA63, Box 1) currently housed in UND’s Chester Fritz Library’s Department of Special Collection’s University Archives. They all date from the year 1935 and document Robertson’s efforts to raise money on the basis of the Frank Lynch offers and to manage or eliminate the College’s debt. They reflect both Roberston’s determination and passion for Wesley College as well as a kind of congenial and person style of writing. The letters reveal the economic challenges of the time, extraordinary acts of generosity and compassion, and even some of the mundane obstacles that face anyone attempting to do good. They also lay bare Robertson’s occasional frustrations, disappointments, and genuine concern surrounding the fate of the institution to which he devoted his life.

More than that, they’re touching to read.

This publication is part of the Wesley College Documentation Project which is a multidisciplinary project to celebrate both the history of Wesley College and its unique place in the history of the University of North Dakota. In June of this year, the four major buildings of Wesley College are slated for demolition, but it is our hope that documenting these buildings and the Wesley College story will keep the College’s memory alive.

As I noted in the onset of this document, this is a draft publication which will hopefully develop over time and be joined by other works that tell the story of Wesley College. We hope the story of this college and the characters who shared its vision offers enduring perspectives that continue to have meaning today.  

Special thanks goes to the ten students who have worked with me on this project and the staff of UND’s Special Collections and UND’s Facilities Department who have facilitated our research throughout.

William Caraher

Associate Professor
Department of History
University of North Dakota
Grand Forks, North Dakota

Random Thoughts on Publishing and The Digital Press

Over the next month or so, I’m going to roll out a new little imprint at The Digital Press at the University of North Dakota. It’ll be called, The Student Press, and it’ll to focus on student work or class projects that deserve a wider audience. 

The first two volumes that will appear in this series are the small book produced by my graduate seminar last year titled The Graduates’ Manifesto: Defending History. The second volume will come from a class that I’m teaching this semester on the the University of North Dakota budget and be called A Students Guide to the UND Budget

For some reason, I want to create a kind of thematic consistency in the book covers and draw on design cues used in 1960s-1970s book covers. Maybe it’s because these covers evoke my student days. 

I also have this not-so-great idea to publish a series of letters from the Wesley College archive as part of the Wesley College Documentation Project. In the 1930s, Wesley College was in dire financial shape. The regular flow of income from traditional donors, like Frank Lynch and A.J. Sayre, had suffered from the Great Depression and the the drought of the 1920s. Wesley College was in debt and was struggling to pay its bills. In 1931, Charles Wallace took the helm of the struggling institution replacing the first president, Edward Robertson. Roberston was a very hands-on president and have close personal relationships with both donors and creditors. As a result, he took the lead in negotiating forbearance for debts and balancing the generosity of donors with the understanding desire of creditors to be paid in full. 

The idea would be to produce a little book of these letters with a short introduction and to call it something like “A Study in Austerity: Donors and Debt in a Small College.”

Finally, how great are these cover sheets from the one-line drawings of buildings on UND’s campus?  

Buildings and Grounds  Floor Plans  Robertson Sayre Hall  NO 57  dragged

UA75 3 19 19  dragged

Snichimal Vayuchil

It is pretty exciting to announce the paper publication of the first volume of the new North Dakota Quarterly Supplement Series. This series is a collaboration with The Digital Press at the University of North Dakota designed to provide a bit more space for poetry, fiction, or other creative projects that embrace the same values as the Quarterly, but can also stand on their own. The books will be available as open access digital downloads and print-on-demand paperback.

Maya Cover Feature 01

The first in this series is Paul Worley’s edited and translated collection of Tsotsil Mayan poetry, Snichimal Vayuchil, which has a new introduction by Gloria E. Chacón. 

You can download or purchase the book from the NDQ site here or from The Digital Press at the University of North Dakota site here

~

This project has had a special place in my heart because it involves a collaboration with Paul Worley. Five years ago, UND had this gaggle of ambitious and creative junior scholars: Paul Worley, Kyle Conway, Brett Ommen, Crystal Alberts, Mike Wittgraf, and Joel Jonientz. I was lucky enough to hang out with them and, from time to time, scheme and dream up projects.

In fact, The Digital Press at the University of North Dakota was a project that Joel Jonientz and Kyle Conway and I dreamt up together, and from its earliest days we had envisioned that Paul Worley would have some part in it. (Actually, I still want to publish a series of old baseball manuals with some historical introductions… I wonder if there exist manuals in Spanish, from Mexico or the Dominican Republic or Cuba that Paul could translate and edit?).

As readers of this blog know, Joel Jonientz died four years ago, Paul Worley, Kyle Conway, and Bret Ommen left UND, Crystal Alberts and Mike Wittgraf are still around and when I get a chance, we catch up and still scheme a little. Kyle Conway and I still work closely together on The Digital Press. But none of our collaboration has the same kind of frenetic energy. Maybe it’s because we lack the critical mass of people here in Grand Forks, maybe because we’ve settled into our mid-career malaise, or maybe just because we don’t see each other every weekend, but we haven’t really collaborated like we used to.

This book with Paul Worley, reminded me of those days when we used to scheme up big plans over beers and bitch about things we couldn’t change. I think you’ll see that Paul and I find some ways to collaborate more over the next few years. And who knows, maybe a enough of the old energy is still around to bring the gang back together. (I’m thinking the first Maya Language Space Opera… ) 

 

 

NDQuesday: Breaking a Brand or Bringing the Brand Back Together

I’ve been editor of North Dakota Quarterly for less than a month and I’m already worried that I’ve broken the brand. One of the challenges that I’ve faced is that I’m not, as readers of this blog know, particularly concerned with brands and branding. I find much of this rhetoric invested on building value and value, too often, slides from intellectual or cultural worth to areas of economic worth. A project’s value and an institutions brand becomes tied to its ability to convert resources into a product.

Over the last month, however, I was reminded that a brand also relates to the ability of an institution to advance and define its goals. This may be, in our current academic culture, too closely tied to our ability to acquire resources. After all the concept of a mission statement has come frequently to mark the spread of “business speak” in the academy. But for a public humanities journal, having a well-defined brand, also relates to our ability to attract contributors, to attract readers, and to have an impact.

Over the past year or so, I’ve worked hard to bring a wide range of content to the NDQ website, but I also assumed that it would be a portal for subscribers and contributors to the print journal. As the fate of the print journal continues to be negotiated, however, the website has started to stand in for the journal itself. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but it does force me to realize that what is posted on the web will impact how people see NDQ moving forward. If we want a diverse, eclectic, and wide ranging public humanities journal, then I feel like the website embodies some of those characteristics. If we want a journal that embraces literature, poetry, and the art of the essay and the review, I suspect we’ve strayed from that more narrowly defined, but altogether reasonable brand. The question is can we bolster NDQ’s brand identity without stifling the potential to move forward and without becoming mired in the corporate-speak of “mission statements” and “goals”?

On a superficial level, I do recognize that we need to do more to promote the traditional, paper presence of NDQ. To that end, I need to modify how the journal appears on the web. Right now, it literally belches forth content, with little in the way of introduction and even less pretense. My thinking at present is the update the website to promote a bit more clearly the print version of the journal and its deep historical roots. I also need dig back into those roots for content to bridge the gap between paper and digital. There is a tremendous amount of back content from NDQ much of which we link to, in a general, through our archive pages. A more curated approach to this back content, however, will make it more accessible to our audience and reinforce the longstanding traditions associated with Quarterly.

Finally, I keep thinking about the challenge of hybridity. Yesterday, my other publishing project, The Digital Press at the University of North Dakota, released a print-on-demand and PDF download of the web journal Epoiesen. In other words, we sought to bridge the gap between digital and print by embracing multiple modes of publishing that were nevertheless integrated. We approached the Codex project in a similar way.

The same challenges face us at NDQ except rather than building a hybrid project from the ground up and instead of navigating media as something deeply embedded in the form and content, we need to find a middle ground that respects both the paper and digital form and the paper and digital content as interrelated but not always interchangeable things. We need to both explore the potential keeping the paper and the digital as distinct ways to use the media to share expectations of the content that nevertheless embodies the same brand. In short, we need to bring the brand back together.

Announcing the Publication of Volume 1 of the Epoiesen Annual!

The Digital Press at the University of North Dakota is very excited to announce the publication of the first volume of the Epoiesen Annual. This is an annual volume based on the extraordinary new journal, Epoiesen: A Journal for Creative Engagement in History and Archaeology, edited by Shawn Graham and colleagues and hosted by the library at Carleton University in Ottawa. Check it out here.

Epoiesen (ἐποίησεν) – made – is a journal for exploring creative engagement with the past, especially through digital means. It publishes primarily what might be thought of as “paradata” or artist’s statements that accompany playful and unfamiliar forms of singing the past into existence.

What have you made? What will you make? This journal, in its online home, makes space to valorize and recognize the scholarly ways of knowing that are expressed well beyond the text. Bill White reminds us why society allows archaeologists to exist in the first place:

“it is to amplify the whispers of the past in our own unique way so they can still be heard today.”

The journal seeks “to document and valorize the scholarly creativity that underpins our representations of the past. Epoiesen is therefore a kind of witness to the implied knowledge of archaeologists, historians, and other professionals, academics and artists as it intersects with the sources about the past. It encourages engagement with the past that reaches beyond our traditional audience (ourselves).”

Download, explore, or buy it today!

~

For a bit of the backstory, Epoiesen is really the work of a group of dedicated and innovative collaborators, editors, and partners, as Shawn Graham himself makes clear in the introduction. The native format for the journal is on the web, but Shawn reached out to The Digital Press in the middle of last year to explore producing a hybrid, print/digital (pdf) format. The hope is that this form will appeal to readers who more comfortable with print for reading, citing, and cataloging.

The work of the Digital Press, then, was largely translation from they dynamic digital form to the more conventional print-ready format which at times was a bit tricky, as even a quick review of the PDF will show. We adopted a format that intentionally played with the tidiness of the textbook and the grid, pushing images over the boundaries and outside of lines.

The cover is itself is a vibrant piece of scholarship thanks to Gabe Moshenska’s generous decision to make his book, Key Concepts in Public Archaeology, free and open access. For the cover design, we listened intently to the authors, members of the editorial board, and various sundry social media commentators. It seemed fitting that the cover emerged from the very creative, digitally mediate milieu that journal itself celebrates.

Finally, this project embodies the kind of laboratory publishing that The Digital Press has pursued since Punk Archaeology appeared four years ago. So it’s particularly fitting that on the fifth anniversary of the Punk Archaeology conference, some of the same collaborators (Andrew Reinhard, for example, designed the cover for Epoiesen) returned to the scene of the crime to produce this volume.