This week I talked with Travis Hoaglund ’91 about business and history. Mr. Hoaglund is the insurance president for Bremer Bank.
What were things that you enjoyed about your history classes here at Bethel?
I loved learning about more recent history… WWII and present. My most memorable times at Bethel were the friends I made and how the faith based mission of Bethel rounded me out as a person.
How did you get from Bethel to your career in business?
About my junior year I decided that I had an interest in business and specifically sales. I was a hockey player and played golf at Bethel… I enjoyed competing in athletics and that translates well to a sales career. I thought I would be in sales my whole career, but over time I found myself really enjoying helping other sales people. I have led up to 300 salespeople across the country and now run Bremer Insurance Agency (Bremer Bank). I try to lead with the principles and life experience I learned at Bethel…
In the same way that competition in athletics transitioned well to a sales career, are there ways that you have seen history transition into your career?
It required me to do a great deal of reading and writing… I use those skills daily in my role, and they are very important!
Lastly, what is the favorite part of your career?
I love getting to know people in an organization and figuring out what motivates them… I have learned that what makes me tick is not what makes others tick and as a leader you have to figure out what motivates each person individually. As long as a person’s motivation lines up with what our organization needs from a performance standpoint… we will do everything to help our people reach both professional and personal goals. That is what drives me… to take someone from where they are to where they never dreamed they could go.
Next month marks the 100th anniversary of the Armistice that ended the First World War on its famous Western Front. As part of the international commemoration of that event, the Minnesota Opera will be performing Silent Night, a dramatization of the 1914 Christmas Truce, at the Ordway Center — November 10-18.
As a preview event, the Minnesota Opera, MinnPost, and the University of Minnesota’s School of Music are presenting “Silent Night: A Soldier’s Humanity and the Impact of WWI” — Monday, October 29, 7pm at Westminster Hall in downtown Minneapolis. I’ll be one of the panelists discussing soldiers’ experiences of the war, plus a member of the cast will perform selections from the opera itself. The event is free, but click the link above to register.
To put you in mind of the subject… Enjoy these photos from Monday night’s meeting of our J-term WWI trip participants. Bethel alum Jenna Kubly ’02 joined us to share some of her extensive collection of WWI artifacts, including everything from swords and uniforms to medals and postcards.
Jenna with History/Business major Jeremy Schipper ’20
Business major Dalton Tanner ’21 trying on the uniform of a French artillery officer
This week I talked with Bethel history alum Dana Morrison-Lorenz about combining her love of history and theatre. She graduated in 2012 and now coordinates historical interpreters at the Lewis and Clark Interpretive Center at North Dakota’s Fort Mandan.
What led to your interest in history?
My parents (particularly my dad) had a big interest in history and during many family vacations we would stop at historically significant sites. I also have two older sisters that were very interested in history. (In fact, both sisters studied history at Bethel as well.) Being as I looked up to them I wanted to do as they did, and so I began getting into the same things they did and history was a big one. As I got older I always wanted the answers to “why” questions: Why do we do things a certain way? Why are things the way they are? etc. And I found that history was a fascinating way to answer those questions. Sometimes the answers were simple and sometimes they were heartbreaking, but finding out the truth (or at the very least facts presented whether truthful or not) led to a lot of fulfillment for me.
What was one of your favorite courses or memories from Bethel?
I really enjoyed my Cold War class. Although I knew about the Cold War and the basics about what it involved, I learned so much through that course. I was born the year after the Berlin Wall came down and so it felt like a part of history that I had just missed out on, something that was so close to my lifetime but still seemed so foreign. Through the class it was interesting to dive deeper into what led up to the Cold War, what events occurred that aren’t as well known, and what ramifications from the Cold War are still felt today. Some of the standout things I remember from the class was on the first day Dr. Gehrz asked us what we think of when we hear “Cold War” and he wrote our answers on the board. We had a discussion about how that list has changed over the years that he has been teaching the course and how our perception of an event is shaped by the time we are living in. Dr. Gehrz would also play us songs from the Cold War era and would print out the lyrics so we could follow along. I still have those sheets nearly 10 years later.
What led you to your current career?
It wasn’t until late in my college career that I figured that working in a museum/historic site might be an interesting career. I was more so studying history out of a passion for it and thought that the skills from studying history could work well in any career I chose, not necessarily having anything to do with history. So when I realized that I may want to pursue a career in a museum setting I started looking at my options. I looked into going to grad school (and to be honest it’s still not off the table), but it didn’t seem like the right time to go back to school. Instead I began volunteering through the Minnesota Historical Society so that I could start to gain some experience. I worked with the MHS Press transcribing interviews for upcoming books and with the Event Volunteers, talking with visitors and performing behind-the-scenes tasks. All the while I was applying for jobs around the Minneapolis/St. Paul area. Although I got a few interviews, none of these panned out. Then I heard about an interpreter position at the Lewis & Clark Interpretive Center/Fort Mandan from my sister’s former high school classmate and decided to apply for the position. I interviewed by phone a few weeks later and then the next week I had found out I got the position. Two weeks later I moved back to my home state of North Dakota and began my career as an historical interpreter. Three years later I applied for the Interpretive Coordinator position within the same museum and started my new role in July of this year.
What are some of the duties that come with your position?
Since we are a small staff at our location I have a lot of duties that I take care of. First and foremost, I interact with our visitors, whether that be giving a guided tour of Fort Mandan or answering questions within the museum. As the Coordinator I am also responsible for all of the interpreters. If they have questions or concerns, they can come to me. I will give them tasks and duties and guide them as they develop interpretive programming and tours. Other duties include planning events and temporary exhibits. This is usually done in the winter when visitation is slow. We will usually have 2-4 temporary exhibits throughout the year, with three available galleries for the exhibits. We also have events going year round that I have to plan and promote. I am also in charge of our social media presence so I make posts to Facebook and Instagram nearly every day. In recent years there has been a demand for site content to be available on social media, and we are trying to get information out there so even though people may not be able to visit our site we can give them interpretive content. Facebook has also been great to promote events and keep our followers up-to-date on what’s going on. Beyond these duties I go where I am needed so I will worked the register in the museum stores, help with maintenance, and occasionally even to off site if needed.
There are days where we will dress up in historical clothing while working at Fort Mandan. We don’t go so far as to reenact like it’s 1804 at the fort, but having the clothing gives a different feel to the fort that people really enjoy. Combining my passions for history and theatre has also helped in my presentations, whether it be a fort tour, demonstrating how to use a flintlock, or preparing presentations to give to the public. In a sense I play a bit of a role with my job. I wear a park uniform (a costume) and I stand in front of visitors (an audience) to deliver a tour (a performance). If you go deeper there are a lot of connections between history and theatre that have helped in my position. Both history and theatre rely on storytelling, both incorporate aspects of teamwork and critical thinking, and both allow you to overcome limitations. All of these skills are integral to my role as a historical interpreter.
Join us next Tuesday evening (Sept. 25, 7pm) when New York Times columnist, bestselling author, and radio/TV commentator David Brooks gives a public lecture in Benson Great Hall. (Tickets are free, but must be ordered ahead of time.)
Entitled “The Road to Character,” Brooks’ talk builds on his 2015 book by that title, which contrasts résumé virtues (“the skills that you bring to the job market and that contribute to external success”) with eulogy virtues (“the ones that exist at the core of your being”).
He’s one of the most prominent people to speak on campus in recent years, but I wonder how many people know that David Brooks was once a history major.
In an interview with the student newspaper at his alma mater, the University of Chicago, Brooks said that he ended up majoring in history because it somehow seemed more “practical” than his other choice: literature. But even as he moved into the worlds of politics and journalism, Brooks never lost his interest in history and literature.
In the midst of the Great Recession, Brooks dedicated one of his Times columns to warning against the decline of history, literature, and the other humanities as college students were increasingly tempted to think they had “to study something that will lead directly to a job.” He emphasized how history and similar fields train their students to read and write well, to understand emotion, and to make analogies.
But above all, he wrote that history and the other humanities would help students “befriend The Big Shaggy.” Here’s what he meant:
…Over the past century or so, people have built various systems to help them understand human behavior: economics, political science, game theory and evolutionary psychology. These systems are useful in many circumstances. But none completely explain behavior because deep down people have passions and drives that don’t lend themselves to systemic modeling. They have yearnings and fears that reside in an inner beast you could call The Big Shaggy….
The observant person goes through life asking: Where did that come from? Why did he or she act that way? The answers are hard to come by because the behavior emanates from somewhere deep inside The Big Shaggy…
…over the centuries, there have been rare and strange people who possessed the skill of taking the upheavals of thought that emanate from The Big Shaggy and representing them in the form of story, music, myth, painting, liturgy, architecture, sculpture, landscape and speech. These men and women developed languages that help us understand these yearnings and also educate and mold them. They left rich veins of emotional knowledge that are the subjects of the humanities.
Learn more about David Brooks’ Bethel talk at bethel.edu/brooks. His wife, Anne Snyder (a former philosophy major at Wheaton), will be the convocation speaker during Chapel time on Monday.
For about six years now, we’ve tried to use social media to better connect with past, present, and future Bethel history students. While it seems like this blog and our accounts at Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn serve alumni well, we’re always looking for better ways to reach out to current and prospective students.
While we’ll keep publishing interviews and other posts about career paths, study abroad and internship options, and department news and events, our Instagram feed will feature much less text. In keeping with one of the key themes of our new Digital Humanities program, we want to do a better job of telling stories visually.
Hello readers of AC 2nd, my name is Aidan Ruch and I am the social media TA for the History Department this year. As my name will be showing up on more blog posts this year I thought I would introduce myself and let you know a little bit about me.
I am a History and Political Science double-major and currently a sophomore. In my free time I enjoy reading a good book while enjoying a cup of tea, or trying to convince my friends to play one of those very complicated board games that take a good hour just to read the directions. I also take part in Bethel Student Government, Model United Nations, and many of Bethel’s theatre productions.
The fact that I am writing for Bethel’s History department is rather strange because it was not until recently that I envisioned my life going this direction.
I had originally planned on being a English major. My father is an English major, and I have always had a love of books. One particular summer I was reading The Killer Angels by Michael Shaara, which is about Gettysburg… while I was at Gettysburg. Being able to read about a great battle and the various men who fought in it and then being able to look up and see the exact thing being mentioned in the book was an amazing experience. It made the normal world seem as magical as the lands of Narnia or those in Lord of the Rings.
This began a shift that led to me becoming a history major, but it didn’t make me stop loving stories. Rather, I now focus on one great story, the story of the past.
I had no plans on coming to Bethel. I had always seen it as a good school, but I had lived in Minnesota most of my life and believed it was time for a change and a chance to leave the state. I did, however, decide to take a year of PSEO here, and in doing so I was irrevocably drawn in. I almost immediately clicked with the community, the faculty, and the History Department. I therefore decided to stay on at Bethel, and two years later here I am as a TA for the history department.
That is the journey that has brought me here and some my interests. Wishing you well from AC 2nd floor… I’m Aidan Ruch.
Now that our profs have had a chance to report on summer highlights, we thought we’d turn the theme over to a few of our 2018-2019 department teaching assistants. How do Bethel History students spend their summers?
Haley Johnson ’19: This summer I did quite a few things. I worked on a project with Compass Airlines on updating all of their maintenance documents for Delta and American Airlines fleets so that they were up to code with the FAA. Aside from working, I planned my wedding, got married on August 11th, and honeymooned in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico.
While there we got to go kayaking, snorkeling, and parasailing. It was quite the summer. (An Art History major, Haley will be assisting Prof. Goldberg with Intro to the Digital Humanities next spring.)
Justin Brecheisen ’19: This summer I had a Technical Sales Internship at Twin City Fan Companies in Plymouth, Minnesota. I spent a lot of my summer getting immersed in the business world in a way I haven’t before and I learned valuable skills I know I will be able to utilize no matter where God leads me in the future.
After spending much of my summer in a cubicle, I had the refreshing privilege to travel to Utah with my family. Visiting five national parks allowed me to explore corners of God’s amazing creation that I had never seen and opened my eyes to fresh perspectives. It was a fantastic way to finish out the summer. As I transition back to Bethel, this trip has framed my perspective, reminding me of the important things in life as I shift from a busy internship to a busy semester. (Justin is double-majoring in History and Business and will again help Prof. Magnuson in the archives.)
Peter Engstrom ’20: This summer I worked at Trout Lake Camps. I was on adventure staff, which means I got to run all of the zip lines and rock walls for all of the kiddos. My summer was filled with 40 minute chats on the top of zip line convincing kids that the zip line had never dropped anyone before and it sure wasn’t gonna happen today on my watch. This summer I got the incredible opportunity to go skydiving, which was an amazing experience. I had always wanted to go skydiving but never thought anything would materialize out of that, until our adventure team decided to jump out of a plane together at 10,000 feet. This summer was filled with amazing experiences, and I got to see God work in incredible ways at camp. (One of our History/Social Studies Education students, Peter will TA for Prof. Kooistra when she returns from her fall sabbatical.)
Aidan Ruch ’21: This summer my dad got a sabbatical grant and my whole family took a two-month trip to the Netherlands, Kenya, and England. I have many fond memories of that trip, but one of my favorite stories was when we were staying at a bed and breakfast near Stratford-upon-Avon.
At breakfast I was talking to the owners of the place, and I happened to mention that that I was a history major. Upon hearing this the owner’s eyes lit up. He explained that he was quite the history buff and offered to show me the local church later that day. It was built in the early 1100s and was one of the first churches in the area. Indeed, on the ceiling there are various pagan carvings such as a learning face of a druid, as the people who originally built the church were unsure about this newfangled religion called Christianity and so decided to hedge their bets. Our host, Mr. Kerr, happened to be the church warden and had the key to the safe. After sorting through the various items in the safe, he pulled out a beautiful chalice, looked at it, and said, “ Oh we don’t want this one; it’s only from the 18th century.” He put it back and pulled out another chalice made in the 150’s, which local legend says was made out of silver plundered from a Spanish galleon. In this manner I was able to hold a chalice that, had it been discovered off the coast of America, would now be in a museum, all while standing in a church that is older than my country. I am awestruck to this day that I was able to have such an experience, and it is something that I will forever cherish. (Aidan is a History/Political Science major and Prof. Gehrz’s social media TA for the year. Look from much more from him at AC 2nd in the weeks to come…)
It’s the first week of the new year at Bethel, but before we get too far into the fall, we thought we’d look back at what the people of AC 2nd did with their summers. We’ll hear from some students soon enough. But let’s start with a few members of our faculty:
Amy Poppinga: It is hard to believe we are already back to school. I had a wonderful summer that consisted of research and writing, quality time with my immediate and extended family, and some personal time with friends. It started with me traveling with my closest friend from Bethel on a trip to Costa Rica to celebrate our 40th birthdays. We attended a week-long women’s surfing camp. It was hard work but I loved it! We met as students in the History department, and I am grateful for our enduring friendship despite many moves, job and life changes.
Then along with my good friend and colleague, Sara Shady, I received two grants to work on creating a new course for Bethel’s Pietas Honors Program. The course centers on community, spiritual identity, and interfaith engagement. Keeping with my continued interest and research in the field of Interfaith Studies, I just co-authored an article, “Building Bridges Across Faith Lines: Responsible Christian Education in a Post-Christian Society” with Marion Larson and Sara Shady for the Journal of Christian Higher Education.
Charlie Goldberg: I was thrilled to have been selected to travel to Greece for nine days to participate in a seminar on fostering an appreciation for the classics in undergraduate education. The seminar was run by Harvard University’s Center for Hellenic Studies in conjunction with the Council of Independent Colleges. Along with nineteen other college professors and trip leaders Greg Nagy (Harvard University) and Kenny Morrell (Rhodes College), I toured the Peloponnese and spent time in Delphi and Athens. The group discussed strategies for raising appreciation for the classics and ancient history at small colleges, shared lesson plans, and made plans for future collaborations. I also shared my experience launching Bethel’s new Digital Humanities major with others interested in similar efforts at their home institutions, and will forever appreciate the lifelong professional and personal relationships I forged on the trip.
Sam Mulberry: I spent this summer getting back up to speed with normal Bethel work after my Spring 2018 sabbatical. I had two major projects on my plate. First, I worked to build academic schedules for incoming students who will be new to Bethel in the Fall. This included both building their initial schedules as well as meeting with students throughout the summer to make changes and adjustments to their schedules. Secondly, I taught CWC (GES130) online with Chris Gehrz and Amy Poppinga. This was my sixth straight summer teaching this class. Although everything in the class went really smoothly, I did spend a chunk of the summer starting to think through how the next iteration of the class might look.
Chris Gehrz: This summer break was incredible! I spent the first five weeks of break out east, mostly doing research for my new Charles Lindbergh biography. I started at the Library of Congress (holding an impromptu alumni reunion along the way) then spent a month back at my graduate alma mater, Yale University, home of the Lindbergh Papers. While I was in the Northeast, I also had the chance to preach at three churches in Connecticut and Massachusetts, as a follow-up to my 2017 book, The Pietist Option. Meanwhile, I found time to walk the Freedom Trail in Boston, see my first game at Fenway Park, and visit Plymouth Rock. But the true highlight of my summer came in mid-July… On my way back to the Midwest, I detoured to southwestern Virginia for a week to take part in the celebration of my dad’s retirement, after 45 years of service as a pediatrician and medical researcher.
Although Travelocity reviewers only give the Watkins Museum in Winona an average of 4.0 stars out of 5, many are also quick to point out that it’s 1) free and 2) worth checking out “if you love history.” Well, I like free stuff, and I do love history . . . but it turns out there’s a lot more to the Watkins story than what a cursory tour of this relatively small museum reveals.
Today, Watkins sells a variety of products (including balms and liniments, soaps and detergents, spices and extracts) in stores like Home Depot, Target, and Whole Foods, to name a few. The company, however, got its start in 1867 when J. R. Watkins bought the rights to manufacture and sell a liniment formula created by Dr. Richard Ward. The liniment, still available today, was developed in the era of “patent medicines.” The label “patent medicines” suggested that the product had been granted government protection because of its exclusivity. Prior to the passage of the 1906 Pure Food and Drug Act, however, the lack of regulation meant that most patent medicines were far from unique. Instead, these “medicines” featured large amounts of alcohol in combination with vegetable extracts. In addition, many concoctions were fortified with morphine, opium, or cocaine.
According to the company’s website, however, Watkins offered a “natural” alternative to many of the other medicines on the market. This commitment to quality led Watkins to develop the “trial-mark bottle” and a money-back guarantee.” Customers who used a product but stayed above the mark molded onto the bottle could receive a full refund if they were not satisfied.
When I perused the displays of the Watkins Museum, one of the products I found most interesting was the bottle labeled “Watkins Female Remedy.” Located in a case containing products from 1868-1929, the remedy claimed to be a tonic “stimulating nutrition, checking tissue waste, and acting as a sedative for the pelvic organs.” Furthermore the fine print says the tonic is “[u]seful for suppressed, painful or irregular menstruation, urinary troubles, falling of the womb, deranged monthly periods, etc., etc.” The bottle did not indicate what magical ingredients the tonic contained, but the language is strikingly similar to other products available in an era when birth control methods were elusive. When the Comstock Law was passed in 1873, it deemed birth control “pornographic” and thus banned contraceptives from dissemination and distribution through the mail or across state lines. Manufacturers of such products thus had to resort to euphemistic language in their marketing. By claiming to bring regularity to a woman’s menstrual cycle, patent medicines were suggesting their products helped to prevent (or, in some cases, end) pregnancy. (In addition to a number of books on the subject, Andrea Tone’s article is worth reading.) The Watkins Museum does a nice job of displaying a variety of their historical artifacts, but there is not a lot of “interpretation.” It does appear that the museum is about to undergo some renovation, so maybe some signs speaking to the historical context will accompany the fantastic array of artifacts.
Congratulations to our friend and neighbor, Dr. Chris Moore, winner of the 2018 Faculty Excellence Award for Teaching!
Dr. Moore teaches courses on international relations in the Political Science department, including one that is cross-listed in History (Revolution and Political Development). Many of you know firsthand his skill in guiding in-class discussion and integrating simulations into courses, and that his office is a regular hangout for students who want to talk about politics and faith. Dr. Moore also advises Bethel’s Model United Nations club, and regularly contributes to several of the podcasts on Prof. Mulberry’s Live from AC 2nd network.
The teaching award was announced yesterday afternoon at Bethel’s annual faculty retreat, along with those for service and leadership (Bethany Opsata, Business & Economics) and scholarship (Juan Hernandez, Biblical and Theological Studies). Congratulations to three richly deserving recipients!