New Book Day: Mindful Wandering: Nature and Global Travel through the Eyes of a Farmgirl Scientist

The best days of the year are new book days! The Digital Press at the University of North Dakota is thrilled to announce the publication of Rebecca J. Romsdahl’s book, Mindful Wandering: Nature and Global Travel through the Eyes of a Farmgirl Scientist.

This book was a particular pleasure to publish because I’ve known and admired the author and her work for so many years as a colleague at UND. This book captures her thoughtful and reflective voice so well and offers compelling personal reflections on complex problems. In this way, the book sits alongside Shawn Graham’s Failing Gloriously in the Digital Press catalogue as ways to open up the complex negotiations of academic thinking to a broad audience.   

As with all books from The Digital Press, Mindful Wandering is available as a free open access download or as a low cost paperback. Download a copy here.

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Mindful Wandering is an inspiring blend of memoir, travelogue, and environmental manifesto. As a translational ecologist, Rebecca Romsdahl is trained to ask critical questions about how we can improve our human relationships with the natural world for a sustainable, resilient future. As a farmgirl, she learned how to observe nature and life through the changing seasons. In this collection of essays spanning two decades, Romsdahl weaves these ideas together as she travels our changing world. From a Minnesota farm to the mountains of Peru and the edge of the Sahara Desert, she explores strategies for sustainability and resilience, and advocates that we (especially those of us privileged enough to travel) must expand our mindful considerations to include all the other inhabitants of this beautiful Earth. Romsdahl practices, and preaches, mindful wandering to reduce her impacts on the natural environment, and to encourage us all to be better global citizens. She implores us, through the eyes of a farmgirl scientist, to ask soul-searching questions: How do we reconnect with the local, seasonal rhythms of life, while learning how to care about the whole Earth as our home?

Rebecca J. Romsdahl, PhD, is a translational ecologist, educator, writer, and professor in the Department of Earth System Science & Policy at the University of North Dakota. Her research and teaching examine links between social, ecological, and policy factors when scientists, stakeholders, and decision makers work together to solve environmental problems. 

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Here’s the formal press release:

You can take the girl off the farm, but you can’t take the farm from girl.

Dr. Rebecca J. Romsdahl’s Mindful Wandering: Nature and Global Travel through the Eyes of a Farmgirl Scientist takes the reader from a Minnesota farm to England, Morocco, Peru and beyond. Part travelogue, part book of essays, and part scientific manifesto, Romsdahl blends her experiences growing up on a Minnesota farm, studying and teaching environmental policy, and traveling extensively as both a professional and a tourist. The resulting book is a guide to the environmental challenges we face as a global community and a provocation to do better.

Romsdahl said, when asked about her motivation to write a book like this: “Traveling to new places has opened my mind to see environmental problems and solution ideas, like sustainability and resilience, from different perspectives. I want to share those and inspire people to explore our beautiful planet more thoughtfully.”

Mindful Wandering masterfully combines Romsdahl’s encounters not only with creatures and landscapes, but as importantly with people. These encounters prompted her to not only ask new questions, but also seek new answers.

She relates “I am constantly wrestling with the psychology concept ‘cognitive dissonance,’ or as I adapt it ‘environmental guilt.’. How can I get past feeling like I am just part of the problem so instead I can contribute to being part of solutions? I’m also constantly thinking about how different cultures value the natural environment. What environmental problems are people in different places facing and what can we learn (or share) about how they are trying to solve them?”

The beauty of glaciers in Alaska, the quirky splendor of the denizens of the Galapagos island, the radiant landscapes of the Moroccan desert, and the cozy fellowship of an English pub provide just a few of the backdrops that frame her reflections and entice the reader to think differently.

Her goal is to inspire: “boundless curiosity, a sense of wonder about the natural world, and a mindfulness to pay attention to what we can learn from the people and the changing world around us.”

Rebecca J. Romsdahl, PhD, is a translational ecologist, educator, writer, and professor in the Department of Earth System Science & Policy at the University of North Dakota. Her research and teaching examine links between social, ecological, and policy factors when scientists, stakeholders, and decision makers work together to solve environmental problems.

Mindful Wandering is published by The Digital Press at the University of North Dakota and available as a free download from https://thedigitalpress.org/Mindful/ or as a low-cost paperback from Amazon.com.

Free Books for Cyber Monday!

I can think of no better way to spend the digital hellscape that is Cyber Monday, than downloading and reading free stuff from The Digital Press at the University of North Dakota.

To make this easier and a bit more fun, we’ve put together some download bundles full of good books that you can download absolutely free:

First, you can grab all of our archaeology titles with one click here including Deb Brown Stewart and Rebecca Siegfried’s latest book, Deserted Villages: Perspectives from the Eastern Mediterranean. Download it here.

Then, you can grab all our titles that have to deal with North Dakota with one click here including Kyle Conway’s innovated volume, Sixty Years of Boom and Bust: The Impact of Oil in North Dakota, 1958-2018. Download it here.

Then, you can check download all of our books that deal with critical issues including Cynthia C. Prescott and Maureen S. Thompson’s historical and savory edited volume Backstories: The Kitchen Table Talk Cookbook! Download it here.

Finally, if you want to think more broadly and creatively about our world, check out this packet of books from The Digital Press and our creative partners at Epoiesen and North Dakota QuarterlyDownload it here.

Oh, and if you just want all the books that we’ve published ever. Click here for a 1.6 GB megapack.

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If the very idea of cyber anything gives you hives, you can always get books from The Digital Press at Amazon.com and most of our titles are available from Bookshop.org as well.

Bookshop.org allows you to support local bookstores when you buy a copy of Deserted Villages, Sixty Years of Boom and Bust, and One Hundred Voices: Harrisburg’s Historic African American Community, 1850-1920.  

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Finally, if you want something really cool to make you cyber Monday less obnoxiously consumer, check out this preview of Rebecca Romsdahl’s Mindful Wandering: Nature and Global travel through the Eyes of a Farmgirl Scientist.

Mindful Wandering is an inspiring blend of memoir, travelogue, and environmental manifesto. As a translational ecologist, Rebecca Romsdahl is trained to ask critical questions about how we can improve our human relationships with the natural world for a sustainable, resilient future. As a farmgirl, she learned how to observe nature and life through the changing seasons. In this collection of essays spanning two decades, Romsdahl weaves these ideas together as she travels our changing world. From a Minnesota farm to the mountains of Peru and the edge of the Sahara Desert, she explores strategies for sustainability and resilience, and advocates that we (especially those of us privileged enough to travel) must expand our mindful considerations to include all the other inhabitants of this beautiful Earth. Romsdahl practices, and preaches, mindful wandering to reduce her impacts on the natural environment, and to encourage us all to be better global citizens. She implores us, through the eyes of a farmgirl scientist, to ask soul-searching questions: How do we reconnect with the local, seasonal rhythms of life, while learning how to care about the whole Earth as our home?

Get it here.

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Making a Book: Mindful Wandering

Over the last few weeks, I’ve been working on typesetting a new book: Rebecca J. Romsdahl’s Mindful Wandering: Nature and Global Travel through the Eyes of a Farmgirl Scientist. The book is scheduled to appear in time for the holidays and is really great. It will be available as a free download and a print-on-demand paperback from The Digital Press at the University of North Dakota

The author describes the book this way (and I like this back of the cover blurb!):

Mindful Wandering is an inspiring blend of memoir, travelogue, and environmental manifesto. As a translational ecologist, Rebecca Romsdahl is trained to ask critical questions about how we can improve our human relationships with the natural world for a sustainable, resilient future. As a farmgirl, she learned how to observe nature and life through the changing seasons. In this collection of essays spanning two decades, Romsdahl weaves these ideas together as she travels our changing world. From a Minnesota farm to the mountains of Peru and the edge of the Sahara Desert, she explores strategies for sustainability and resilience, and advocates that we (especially those of us privileged enough to travel) must expand our mindful considerations to include all the other inhabitants of this beautiful Earth. Romsdahl practices, and preaches, mindful wandering to reduce her impacts on the natural environment, and to encourage us all to be better global citizens. She implores us, through the eyes of a farmgirl scientist, to ask soul-searching questions: How do we reconnect with the local, seasonal rhythms of life, while learning how to care about the whole Earth as our home?

The book is typeset and I’m pretty happy with the results. The text is set in Janson with the chapter title in Baskerville. The fonts are pretty conservative, but this is kind of the look that I was going for. The author and I decided to use a grey background for the image on the facing page of the chapter breaks to make these a bit more visible. I then shaded the chapter number (and season, which coincides with a theme in the book) to link the two facing pages together a bit. 

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I tried to also keep the spacing between lines very comfortable and combined the spacing with a pretty large font (12 pt!) to make the book a comfortable read.

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I also used little ears of wheat as a section divider. They’re just a bit oversized, which I found endearing!

The book’s cover has been a bit more of a challenge. I wanted the cover to be pretty conservative, The author provided some great images, all of which showed the author in the context of her landscape. I picked one that had a nice vertical aspect to it and space for the title. 

At first, I tried to use a blue filter to create a kind of ethereal landscape, but my expert panel of reviewers said that it made the cover look a bit uninviting. 

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At first, I wasn’t so sure, but I think that they’re probably right. They also suggested that I increase the size of the title and maybe use a warmer filter that would both make the book feel more welcoming and bring out the author’s blue jacket more. 

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I’m not sure that this will be the final version of the cover, but I think it’s getting close. I love how the filter which is warm and brown brings out the gradient in the sky.

More on this book as it wends its way through the final stages of production soon!

Three Things Thursday

For some reason this week is taking forever. It might be just that time in the semester. I also wonder whether finally getting a bit of writing momentum back has led me to overdo it a bit and maybe burn a bit too much energy for only modest gains. Whatever the reason, it feels like a good time for some good news. So here are three things for your Thursday.

Thing the First

I really enjoyed Dante Angelo, Kelly M. Britt, Margaret Lou Brown, Stacey L. Camp recent article in the Journal of Contemporary Archaeology. Titled “Private Struggles in Public Spaces: Documenting COVID-19 Material Culture and Landscapes,” it offers a window into one of the few, maturing archaeological studies of the COVID-19 pandemic. Like many archaeological projects on the very edge of the present, it’s conclusions are modest, but the methods, challenges, and data offer a window into the potential for archaeological projects that emerge at the very onset of a crisis rather than work to understand a crisis long after it unfolded.

I was particularly impressed by the transnational scope of article and the recognition that contemporary archaeology (and the study of contemporary problems and situations) is not much interested in national boundaries. An archaeology of contemporary climate change, of migration, and of production and consumption habits would follow a similar pattern. The article also negotiates the tension between private and public spaces not only in how we do our work as archaeologists, but also in how we live our lives. In this way, archaeology once again follows tensions present in society as the rise of surveillance culture where even conversations in our home are monitored (and monetized) by ubiquitous digital devices and personal medical choices (and short comings) continue to be matters public debate blurs our expectations of privacy. While Angelo et al. maintained a conservative approach toward documenting private lives in public places and continued to respect traditional notions of public and private, the title of the piece made clear that this continues to be an open question rather than a resolved standard of practice or method. 

Finally, the photo essay itself represents both the tip of a larger archival iceberg and I’m excited to understand how ongoing efforts to document the COVID pandemic will open the door to future analyses and interpretations. It reminds me how important archaeology of the contemporary world is for building the archive of the present and even if our research questions (and goals) applying the rigorous methods developed by archaeology as a discipline will contribute to how future researchers see our world.

Thing the Second

This thing is a form of completely gratuitous self-promotion. As editor of NDQ, I have the privilege of publishing a wide range of authors from undergraduates to grizzled veterans of the writing business. We are pleased to announce that we will publish to the winner of the Colie Hoffman Poetry Prize which goes a woman poet from Huntery College-CUNY. 

Here’s our little announcement.

NDQ is excited to announce our partnership wih the Department of English at Hunter College-CUNY, to pubish the winner of the department’s yearly Colie Hoffman Poetry Prize. Named for Colie Hoffman, an alumna of Hunter’s MFA in Creative Writing Program, the award goes to a female poet in Hunter’s MFA Program who has shown an exceptional blend of imagination and craft in her poetry. Given our admiration for Hoffman and the vibrant pulse of her work, we are thrilled to collaborate with Hunter College in honoring her.

Thing the Third

Last week, the good folks at The Digital Press at the University of North Dakota got word that FOUR of their titles were nominated for the North Dakota State Library Association’s  Notable State Government Documents Award. This is the first time that any of our books have been nominated and I feel the press is being recognized for its solid work in the state. The books nominated are: Cynthia C. Prescott and Maureen S. Thompson’s Backstories: The Kitchen Table Talk Cookbook, Rebecca M. Seifried and Deborah E. Brown Stewart’s Deserted Villages: Perspectives from the Eastern Mediterranean,  Calobe Jackson, Jr., Katie Wingert McArdle, and David Pettegrew’s One Hundred Voices, Harrisburg’s Historic African American Community, 1850-1920and Kyle Conway’s Sixty Years of Boom and Bust: The Impact of Oil in North Dakota, 1958-2018

We’re up against some pretty tough competition, particular from our friends at the NDSU Press who celebrated three nomination for the same award!

This is an exciting time for publishing in the Red River Valley!

Two For Tuesday: North Dakota Quarterly and The Digital Press

Some weeks are a bit more hectic than others. And this is one of those more hectic weeks. So, for today, there are just two little things: one from North Dakota Quarterly and one from The Digital Press.

Like many people, as the semester starts, I begin to flail about trying to wrap up odds and ends from the summer. Fortunately, many of these remaining projects are too large to even think about starting, but a few of the small projects are perfect for sliding into otherwise hectic days.

North Dakota Quarterly 

In 2023, NDQ will publish its 90th volume. This milestone is made all more significant to me personally because it’ll be my fifth volume as editor and a bit of a survival story for the journal which was near the brink around volume 84 and volume 85

It also gives us an excuse to look back at the long history of NDQ and its changes over time. As part of that opportunity for retrospection, I’ve added links to almost all the content from a North Dakota Quarterly Reader prepared by Elizabeth Hampsten and Stephen Dilks in the mid-1990s and circulated as a bound photocopy. It would be going too far to say that this is some kind of definitive anthology of NDQ content, but it does highlight some of the better pieces that have appeared in the Quarterly over its 100+ years of existence. You can check it out here.

As part of the festivities surrounding the 90th volume, I think it would be fun to prepare a new version of a NDQ reader that draws more expansively from our back catalogue of volumes. I’ve pitched the idea that each member of our editorial board take a block of ten volumes and nominates, say, five contributions for the new NDQ reader and writes a bit of an explanatory note. So far enthusiasm for this idea has been a bit muted, but it’s also the start of the semester and there is a lot going on in the world. I’ll keep poking the fire and see if this catches…

The Digital Press

I’m working with my crack marketing team to do some updates to The Digital Press webpage. This is both in anticipation of a busy late fall and spring and because The Digital Press continues to evolve in good and positive ways.

The most recent addition is that I’ve now added DOIs to the catalogue and the individual book’s landing pages. These DOIs resolve to UND’s digital archive which serves as a key backdrop for The Digital Press by providing an institutional repository to ensure that the digital versions of all our books remain accessible in the future. 

Stay tuned for some updates from The Digital Press in the coming months and ongoing work to update our website!

Book by its Cover: Backstories: A Kitchen Table Talk Cookbook

Just a short post today! 

Yesterday, I received galley proofs of Cynthia C. Prescott and Maureen S. Thompson’s Backstories: A Kitchen Table Talk Cookbook. It’s scheduled to appear early next week in conjunction with the Rural Women’s Studies Association meeting and The Digital Press at the University of North Dakota racing down to the wire to ensure that it’ll be ready to go!

I was exceptionally pleased with the cover design by Paul Forest and wanted to share it with everyone “in the paper”: 

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The back looks great too:

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I’m happy with how the text block looked as well. It’s the first time that I’ve designed a book at 7 x 10 and liked the ability to incorporate generous margins on the page.

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This book should be available for download in the next few days (for those of you who can’t wait to get a copy!), and for now, you can check out a preview of the book here

Previewing Backstories: The Kitchen Table Talk Cookbook

Over the last few months, The Digital Press at the University of North Dakota has been working away at a very special project. In collaboration with the Rural Women’s Studies Associate, we are publishing an edited volume of scholarly essays and recipes that celebrate, analyze, and interrogate the relationship between food, women, and rural life. 

The book is edited by Cynthia C. Prescott and Maureen S. Thompson and is titled Backstories: The Kitchen Table Talk Cookbook. One of the book’s reviewers pointed out that this title is a bit of a mouthful, and we decided that this was entirely appropriate for a book about food!

We’ll be ready to release the book during the Rural Women Studies Associate meeting next month. Like all books from The Digital Press, it’ll be available as a high quality, color PDF for free and as a low-cost paperback.

In the meantime, we invite you to bookmark the book’s landing page here and while you’re there, download a preview of the book!

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Three Things Thursday: Black History Month, Lawrence Ferlinghetti, and a New Book

I’m almost making a habit of these Three Things Thursdays! This week, I’m mostly sharing things that happening at my other two projects: The Digital Press at the University of North Dakota and North Dakota Quarterly.

Thing the First

Please go and check out this long interview with David Pettegrew on the making of the book One Hundred Voices: Harrisburg’s Historic African American Community, 1850-1920 that he co-edited with Calobe Jackson, Jr. and Katie Wingert McArdle.

It’s a brilliant example of public, digital archaeology that involved a diverse group of individuals and produce a wide range of products, experiences, and community.

Thing the Second

I brought together some stuff about the late Lawrence Ferlinghetti for the NDQ blog including a couple amusing stories about Ferlinghetti’s visit to the UND Writers Conference in 1974 which of course involved the cops and Tom McGrath because North Dakota. 

Thing the Third

This one is a bit top secret, but I want to share it with loyal readers to this blog.

On Monday, The Digital Press will release Rebecca M. Seifried and Deborah E. Stewart Brown’s Deserted Villages: Perspectives from the Eastern Mediterranean. This book is brilliant and brings together nine substantial papers on deserted and abandoned villages in a wide range of contexts (including North Dakota). 

If you want to download a copy for free, in advance of the official publication date, go here or you can be the first to receive your very own paper copy here.

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New Book Day: Epoiesen 4

New book day is always a fun day, and when the new book is a volume of Epoiesen, it makes it particularly fun because it draws attention to one of the most interesting and creative publications in the field of history and archaeology. In fact, I can think of no other journal that is as open to projects that blur the lines between conventional scholarship and creative works as effectively as Epoiesen.  

This past few months have seen some buzz about scholars who have turned to creative approaches as a form of critique and to engage complex scholarly issues in new ways. Some of this is almost certainly a reflection of a growing restlessness that has come from questioning whether convention forms of academic style, language, methods, and texts are adequate to address the real and immediate social and political problems in the world today. The rise of creative non-fiction or works influences by more creative approaches to scholarly articles represents another example of a kind of probing willingness to explore new ways of engaging with our world. There’s a sense that it is not enough for scholars to simply double (triple, quadruple, et c.) down on what we’ve always done and hope for different results. 

In this atmosphere, Epoiesen represents an important venue and one that I’ve found particularly conducive to some of my own work. It is my pleasure to support this project. Find the links to the latest paper issue of the journal below as well as some more reflections.

When the Digital Press was first starting out, Shawn Graham, the editor at a new journal, Epoiesen: A Journal for Creative Engagement in History and Archaeology reached out to the Digital Press and asked whether we might like to collaborate. He envisioned that the press would produce a paginated paper version of the journal which would publish regularly online.

This offer of collaboration meant a good bit to The Digital Press early in its existence, and four years into this relationship, we’re excited to announce Epoiesen, volume 4, is now available.

Don’t let its modest size mislead you. This issue is really strong and anchored by articles by Michael Given and Erin Thompson. As the last few years, the cover image, this time by Marcelo Vitores, is a miniature scholarly statement in its own right.

You can download the issue as a paginated PDF here for free or buy it on Amazon for $10 here.

And check out the other issues available here as either PDF or paper here.

And all the signs point to a really impressive collection of articles in next years issue. Check them out on the Epoiesen webpage!

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The Digital Press from Small Business Saturday to Cyber-Monday

My apologies to my regular blog readers, but today is a little advertisement for the work I do with some amazing colleagues at The Digital Press at the University of North Dakota. I also wanted to draw attention to the fact that our books, which are all available as free downloads, are also available from local and independent book sellers.

It goes without saying that everyone should download our most ambitious and technologically advanced book to date: Derek B. Counts, Erin Walcek Averett, Kevin Garstki, and Michael Toumazou, Visualizing Votive Practice: Exploring Limestone and Terracotta Sculpture from Athienou-Malloura through 3D Models. It’s free and very cool (even if you’re not particularly interested in Cyprus!). 

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We have over 20 other books to chose from as both free, open-access downloads, and  low-cast paperbacks available from local and independent book stores. Download a book today and if you like it, considering buying a copy for the holidays!

Remember, it’s been a rough year for many small businesses, and it’s more important than ever to support independent bookstores. The Digital Press at the University of North Dakota is proud that most of their catalogue is available through Bookshop.org, a digital platform that also raises money to support independent bookstores. Bookshop.org lists Ferguson Books and More in Grand Forks and Bismarck and Zambroz Variety in Fargo as two local booksellers in the Red River Valley. Please consider buying from one of these shops if, say, you’re looking for a book from a local author – say Eric Burin’s best seller Picking the President: Understanding the Electoral College – or on a North Dakota subject – such as Kyle Conway’s newest book, Sixty Years of Boom and Bust.

To make this all a bit easier to shop locally and find great Digital Press books, I’ve included links to book Bookshop.org and, when relevant, to local book sellers.

William R. Caraher and Brandon R. Olson, Visions of Substance: 3D Imagine in Mediterranean Archaeology. (2015). Download. More Info.

Erin Walcek Averett, Jody Michael Gordon, Derek B Counts, Mobilizing the Past for a Digital Future: The Potential of Digital Archaeology (2016). Download. More info.

William Caraher and Kyle Conway, ed., The Bakken Goes Boom: Oil and the Changing Geographies of Western North Dakota. (2016). Download. More info. Ferguson Books, Grand Forks, ND.

Micah Bloom, Codex (2017). Download. More Info. Ferguson Books, Grand Forks, ND. Main Street Books, Minot, ND.

Eric Burin ed., Picking the President: Understanding the Electoral College (2017). Download. More InfoFerguson Books, Grand Forks, ND.

G. D. R. Sanders, Sarah James and Alicia Carter, Corinth Excavations Archaeological Manual (2017). DownloadMore Info. Ferguson Books, Grand Forks, ND.

David Haeselin ed., Haunted by Waters: The Future of Memory and the Red River Flood of 1997 (2017). Download. More Info. Ferguson Books, Grand Forks, ND.

David Haeselin ed., Dakota Datebook: North Dakota Stories from Prairie Public (2019). Download. More info. Ferguson Books, Grand Forks, ND.

Eric Burin ed., Protesting on Bended Knee: Race, Dissent, and Patriotism in 21st Century America. (2018). Download. More info. Ferguson Books, Grand Forks, ND.

Chris Price, The Old Church on Walnut Street. Revised Edition. (2018). Download. More info. Ferguson Books, Grand Forks, ND.

Paul Worley trans., Snichimal Vayuchil (North Dakota Quarterly Supplement 1). (2018). Download. More Info.

Shawn Graham, Failing Gloriously and Other Essays (2019). Download. More info. Ferguson Books, Grand Forks, ND.

Sebastian Heath, DATAM: Digital Approaches to Teaching the Ancient Mediterranean. (2020). Download. More Info.

Calobe Jackson Jr., Katie Wingert McArdle, and David K. Pettegrew, One Hundred Voices: Harrisburg’s Historic African American Community, 1850-1920 (2020). To support the upkeep of the Commonwealth Monument, buy a copy from Harrisburg’s Midtown Scholar Bookstore here. Download. More info.

Kyle Conway,  Brent L. Willis, Ross B. Talbot, Sixty Years of Boom and Bust: The Impact of Oil in North Dakota, 1958-2018. (2020). Download. More info. Ferguson Books, Grand Forks, ND.