All these posts throughout my little “Barnstorming” series had me curious where I’d been (and how much I’d written): twenty-seven cities, thirty-plus archives, and almost 22,000 miles on my Ford Focus later.
Travel to Des Moines, meet a politician you’re writing a dissertation about, visit the mecca of modern Midwestern marketing. It was a good two weeks.
I was supposed to take a trip to Bismarck this summer after my journey through Grand Forks into Canada, but travel and driving fatigue led me to skip it in favor of a week in River Falls. My punishment was leaving for Bismarck at 3:15am on January 2.
While my last trip to the Iron Range was doubly-immersive, acclimatizing to both the politics and the culture of Minnesota’s Northeast, this one took on more of a “business trip” feel. This was both good, because I explored the deteriorating relationship between Perpich and the DFL, and frustrating, because it provided fewer outlets when things really got confusing.
What do you do when you need some time off the road but still getting work done? Find an archive under 40 minutes away that has relevant papers!
In a few ways, North Dakota confirmed a lot of the cultural characteristics of the Midwest I’d long come to expect. In a few other ways, it was an entirely new world for me.
This was an unhealthy trip. And not because of the local beer, porketta, potica, and pasties.
When historians talk iron ore and the Midwest, we’re all familiar with the docks of Duluth and the radicalism of the Iron Range. But less often, we talk about the forgotten “twin” of the Twin Ports, Superior, Wisconsin.
Since I’m on this barnstorming tour for the remainder of 2017, I don’t need to live in Milwaukee until the spring, meaning I’m moving out of my apartment. That meant the unenviable task of cleaning it out but also provided the opportunity to use the Marquette University Archives, which play host to dozens and dozens of feet of relevant material from some of Wisconsin’s prominent politicians of the 1980s. There are 2200 words ahead, click on if you dare.
It’s practically guaranteed to be a good trip to the archives when the archivist greets you with “Oh, I actually knew Al! I sat with him just a couple of months before he passed.”