Internship Opportunity: Fall 2019 (Apply Now!)

If you are looking to add yet another set of skills and experiences to your portfolio, an internship is a great way to do that. Just minutes ago, the communications specialist from the Minnesota Office of Governor alerted me to an internship opportunity almost in Bethel’s backyard, geographically. Bethel claims to produce world changers, and this internship seems like it might offer an expedient path to that goal. Below you’ll find the email (and the information you need in order to apply):

“I’m reaching out to let you and your students know about the internship program in the Governor’s Office. I’d greatly appreciate you passing this email on to your students, especially those with an interest in public policy and administration. Interns in our office have the opportunity to work with a specific department (like Communications) to develop professional skills and learn more about working in public service. We are actively accepting intern applications for our Fall 2019 intern cohort until July 5, 2019. Those interested can learn more about our program here:

As a former English major myself, I’m especially interested in reaching out to strong writers and communicators with an interest in policy and politics. Our Communications interns have the opportunity to apply their writing skills in a professional setting and support the Office’s communications strategy by drafting press releases, monitoring media coverage, managing and monitoring digital media, assisting with events, and more.

Those interested should submit an application form (available at the link above), cover letter, resume, and writing sample by email to or by mail to: Attn: Internship Coordinator, 130 State Capitol 75 Rev Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd. Saint Paul, MN 55155. Please note that mailed applications must be received by the deadline.”


To the Graduates of Spring 2019

In his letter to the Philippians, Paul says, “I thank my God every time I remember you. In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy. . . .” Truly the history graduates who will walk across the stage tomorrow have brought me joy, have consistently made me grateful for being called to teach, and I wanted to thank them publicly for that.

In Senior Seminar this spring, it has been a distinct pleasure to work with students already so deep into the process of becoming “whole and holy persons,” thanks to their communities of friends, pastors, coaches, parents, and teachers. I’ve been humbled to see the positive impact of these folks in the lives of our students.

Back Row (L to R): Luke Sherry, Zach Meinerts, Justin Brecheisen, Kyle Kilgore
Middle Row: Logan Olson, Andrew Zwart, Haley (Johnson) Shearer
Front Row: Collin Barrett, Nelson Menjivar Lopez, Brendan Veary, Caitlan Hart, Phia Carlson
Photo by Sam Mulberry

At the same time, I’ve been impressed watching the students in Senior Seminar rise to the challenges I’ve extended. Write better. Speak better. Persist in the face of distractions and crises. They’ve done it, and I couldn’t be more proud. If one ever wonders what value a Christian liberal arts college has, I’d point them in the direction of these students. As faculty introduced each student before his/her Senior Seminar presentation, faculty used words like: character, integrity, curiosity, endurance, courage, and service. These students are the kinds of people who will impact their worlds for God’s glory and their neighbor’s good.

Faculty in the photo include: Professor Annie Berglund, Dr. Amy Poppinga, Dr. Charlie Goldberg, Dr. Diana Magnuson, and Dr. Kooistra
Photo by Sam Mulberry

The prayer for the week in the Book of Common Prayer reads: “O ALMIGHTY God, who alone canst order the unruly wills and affections of sinful [humans]; Grant unto thy people, that they may love the thing which thou commandest, and desire that which thou dost promise; that so, among the sundry and manifold changes of the world, our hearts may surely there be fixed, where true joys are to be found; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.” That’s a great prayer, but I’ll return to Philippians for my parting prayer for these graduates: “And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless until the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ–to the glory and praise of God.”

Congratulations to our Spring 2019 graduates. God’s speed.

Senior Sem Topics for Spring 2019

Joni Mitchell has a song called “A Case of You” in which she muses about the influence of another on her writing: “Part of you pours out of me/ In these lines from time to time.” We’ve just had our second meeting in Senior Seminar, and part of the class consisted of conferences with students about potential topics. As I met with them, I kept thinking about Joni Mitchell because I could see the influences of other history professors not only in their topics, but also in the ways that they talked about history–how they see the past, what kinds of sources they want to use, and later (when we came together as a class) their views about intersections of faith and the discipline. Really, this is a team-taught course. And I am thankful for all the ways my colleagues will pour out of these students in their lines, from time to time. (And thanks, specifically, to Dr. Gehrz for his editing on this post and for the links!)

Collin Barrett (History/Pre-Med): Masculinity in Medieval Clergy

I’m seeking to understand how medieval clergy defined masculinity and if that definition was distinct from the rest of their society. How did clergy understand masculinity, for example, in the context of their participation in the “bride” of Jesus Christ? Did their definitions of masculinity have an impact beyond the medieval world?

Justin Brecheisen (History/Business): The John Williams Gunnison Massacre

In 1853, the Pahvant Utes in Utah ambushed and massacred an expedition led by U.S. Army Captain John Williams Gunnison. According to rumors, Mormon authorities—a group with whom Gunnison had interacted and written about—instigated the massacre. I am interested in exploring how this massacre reflects the relationship among the United States government, the Mormon authorities, and the Utes.

Phia Carlson (History): U.S. Reception to the Romanov Executions

The Romanov Dynasty was the final imperial family to rule over Russia. Myths and legends swirl regarding the final days of Tsar Nicholas II and his family, and I am interested in what contributed to the family becoming the subject of much fantastical speculation. What, for example, did the newspapers like the New York Times have to say about the family’s final days?

Nicholas II and his family in 1913
The Romanovs in 1913 – Wikimedia
Caitlan Hart (History/Elementary Education): Women’s Roles in Classical Sparta and Athens

Although women were second-class citizens in both classical Athens and Sparta, there are distinctions in how the women lived in these two places. I am interested in how these roles and views on women varied based upon whether they lived. What factors contributed to these differences?

Kyle Kilgore (History): Racial Justice and the NFL

As an athlete, I have experienced first-hand how sports has the ability to draw people together. Yet, as the recent protests by players in the National Football League have highlighted, sports can also provide an important venue to express a desire to see greater racial justice. What is the history of race in the NFL?

Zach Meinerts (History/Political Science): Lynching in the Post-Reconstruction South

Potentially using the debates in the Congressional Record in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century over the implementation of a federal anti-lynching law, this project would delve into history of lynching in the United States. If possible, the paper would explore both the sexual and religious connotations of lynching during this period.

Nelson Menjivar Lopez (History): El Salvador’s Civil War

The Salvadoran Civil War lasted for over a decade. Murders, abductions, and U.S. involvement in the conflict tore the country apart. While some fled the war for the United States, others remained in the country to witness the brutality on both sides. Using interviews with family and friends who were directly involved in the war, my project will show that the ramifications of this conflict can still be seen in both politics and daily life.

Logan Olson (History/Political Science): Native American Involvement in the U. S. Civil War

Although much historical attention has focused on the key battles and key figures in the U.S. Civil War, the story of Native American involvement can get left out. My research examines the role of Native Americans in this conflict and how their involvement impacted their relationship with the U.S. government in the post-war period.

Haley Shearer (Art History): Dime Museums and Vaudeville

Dime museums, often part of traveling vaudeville acts, tended to be popular forms of entertainment for working-class people in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. One of the ways these museums differentiated themselves from “institutionalized museums” tended to be in their efforts to both educate and entertain the masses. In addition to P. T. Barnum, who were the people associated with these museums? What kind of “education” was “entertaining” to the masses and why?

1899 cartoon on dime museums
1899 cartoon ridiculing “dime museums” – Wikimedia
Luke Sherry (History/Pre-Med): Logging in Northern Wisconsin

The history of logging encompasses several possible questions. What was life like for an average lumberjack? How did logging change the ecology of both the northern woods? What was the environmental impact more generally? How did the exit of the logging camps and companies affect local communities? The digital collections of the Wisconsin Historical Society, which include twenty volumes of material of memoirs, records, journals, and explorer’s narratives, will help dictate the direction of my research.

Brendan Veary (History/Social Studies Education 5-12): Pederasty in Classical Greek Culture

Historians such as Ruth Karras and David Halperin have written extensively about the sexual culture prevailing among Greek men during the classical period. One aspect of that culture was pederasty. My project will focus on this practice and whether the Greeks were the first people not only to condone it but to integrate it into their culture.

Andrew Zwart (History/Biokinetics): Nikita Khrushchev and the Deescalation of Soviet Tension with the West

Following the death of Josef Stalin, there was a 30-year period before Mikhail Gorbachev came to power. During that period, Nikita Khrushchev made some critical changes that allowed the Soviet Union to transition from Stalin’s iron fist to Gorbachev’s de-escalation of tensions with the West. I plan to look at Khrushchev how accomplished this transition without losing the complete support of the Soviet people.

African American History Month: Some Reading Recommendations

Harriet Jacobs (c. 1894)

The internet can be a great place to start exploring resources regarding African American History Month.  In my teaching, I return again and again to the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill’s Documenting the American South project, which contains a number of different collections including “North American Slave Narratives.”  While the collection features the stories of famous abolitionists like Frederick Douglass and Harriet Jacobs, it’s worth checking out some of the less familiar items too.  One intriguing source is Benjamin Drew’s work with “fugitive slaves in Canada.” Drew interviewed African Americans who had fled the institution of slavery first by escaping into the North, but who then abandoned the United States entirely when their freedom seemed threatened again.  Initially, many had fled bondage in the U.S. South and resettled in a northern state that prohibited slavery.  In 1850, however, the United States Congress passed a stronger Fugitive Slave Act, which “made the hunting down of escaped slaves, even in free states, fully legal.”  The already tenuous freedom of those who had escaped seemed even more so, and the people Drew interviewed had made the difficult decision to safeguard their freedom by leaving the United States entirely.  While the voices of these stories attest to the barbaric qualities inherent in the institution of slavery as practiced in the United States and its reach beyond the Mason-Dixon line, they also illuminate the tenacity and strength of the human beings fighting for their freedom.

Nella Larsen

The long reach of a racially-based system of slavery as practiced in the United States is also evident in the history of “racial passing.” The Encyclopedia of African-American Culture and History notes that the term refers to “a crossing of a line that divides social groups.” The term “is used most frequently, however, as if it were short for ‘passing for white,’ in the sense of crossing over the color line in the United States from the black to the white side.”  As even the entry in Wikipedia outlines, the literature on the topic is vast.  My introduction to the topic came by way of Nella Larsen’s 1929 novel Passing, which deals with the phenomenon in the context of early twentieth century Chicago and New York.  The manageable length of the novel, combined with the complexity of the subject, make it an ideal primary text for the classroom–or, in my case, an informal book club among friends.  For an academic treatment of the history of passing, I’d encourage folks to check out Stanford historian Allyson Hobbs’ A Chosen Exile: A History of Racial Passing in American Life.  And, if you don’t have time for the full book, check out Hobbs’ TED talk on the subject.

Finally, how about one poem?  Langston Hughes’ “Theme for English B” is worth the two minutes it will take to read it.

Sometimes perhaps you don’t want to be a part of me.

Nor do I often want to be a part of you.

But we are, that’s true!

As I learn from you,

I guess you learn from me–

although you’re older–and white–

and somewhat more free.

MN Travelogue: Watkins and Winona

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.

Exterior, Watkins Museum (Photo: AMK)

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.

Watkins Female Remedy
Watkins Female Remedy, on display at the Watkins Museum in Winona, MN. (Photo: AMK)

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.

Winona has its fair share of architectural gems, by the way.  One of them is adjacent to the Watkins Museum.  By the early twentieth century, the Watkins company was doing well enough to hire architect George Maher to design its Administration Building.  Completed in 1912, the building features a 70-foot rotunda dome covered in 24-carat gold leaf, marble walls, and multiple stained glass windows designed by the Tiffany Company.  The application for National Register status claims: “The entire building is a tribute to the Chicago Arts and Crafts Society of which the architect George Washington Maher was a founder.”

One of the Tiffany Company’s stained glass windows, Administration Building (Photo: AMK)

The Watkins family seems to have been fond of Maher’s work.  They also hired him to design their bank (now called the Winona National Bank) and their Winona mansion, Rockledge.  While Rockledge is no longer standing (the heir maybe preferred to raze the house rather than let anyone use it?!), the bank certainly is.  If you’re not a fan of great architecture, that’s okay, you could head up to the second floor for an exhibit on big-game hunting.  Really.  J. R. Watkins had one daughter named Grace who grew up to marry E. L. (Ernest Leroy) King.  Mrs. E. L. King apparently liked to spend her spare time in Africa, big-game hunting.  In addition to writing a number of books on the subject, she brought some of her trophies home to Winona where the second floor of the Winona National Bank houses “twenty exotic specimens.” The collection includes: “[a] black rhinoceros, hippopotamus, warthog, African buffalo, cheetah, hyena, African leopard, ostrich, lion, marabou stork, dik-dik, baboon, wildebeest, and a host of gazelle-type creatures.”  (By the way, seven years after Grace became Mrs. E. L. King, her widowed father married Grace’s mother-in-law.  Thus Grace’s mother-in-law became her step-mother, and Grace’s husband became her step-brother. Odd but true.)

Related image
One of Mrs. E. L. King’s publications on big-game hunting!


Interior, Winona National Bank (View from second floor) (Photo: AMK)

I realize the fall semester starts in just a couple of days, but if you’re looking for a quick getaway for the Labor Day weekend . . . well, Winona might be just the ticket.


Recent Bethel Alumni Teaching History

Summer is winding down for our Social Studies Education alumni preparing to return to their teaching jobs this fall.  Joining the numerous veterans will be Andrew Fort ’18, who has a full-time position at Greenway Public Schools in Coleridge, Minnesota. Christina Sibileva ’18 has also recently accepted a teaching job at Highview Middle School (part of the Mounds View Public School District) where she will be teaching Minnesota history.

Spring 2018 Graduation, Dr. Kooistra, Sarah Sauer, Dr. Gehrz, Dr. Magnuson, and Andrew Fort

Spring 2018 Graduation, Dr. Kooistra and Christina Sibileva

Interacting with students in a traditional classroom, however, is not the only way Bethel graduates have been involved in teaching history.  As Dr. Gehrz has noted, one of our best resources for teaching (and learning) Minnesota history is the Minnesota Historical Society (MNHS).  In his post, Dr. Gehrz reviewed several of MNHS’s historic sites, including the Oliver Kelley Farm.  The farm features several “costumed staff,” one of whom is Mikalah Pruss ’17.  These individuals teach visitors about farming in the nineteenth century by way of “experiential” learning.  Just as our newest teachers join the ranks of other Bethel veterans, we also have veterans working in the field of public history.  Eve Burlingame ’08, for example, has spent the last several years working at the Eidem Homestead, a historical site maintained by the Brooklyn Park Recreation and Park’s Department.  My hope is that we continue to facilitate the training of ever more teachers of history–both in “traditional” and “non-traditional” classrooms.
Mikalah Pruss at the Oliver Kelley Farm (Summer 2018). I found this photograph on the Oliver Kelley Farm’s website under its “social media” section featuring twitter and instagram photographs from visitors to the site.  This photo came from “amayzingbailey.”

The AC 2nd Travelogue: Fort Mackinac

This year, my annual trip to Michigan to visit family included a stop at Mackinac Island.  The island is either most famous for its lack of cars or surplus of fudge, but it is also home to Fort Mackinac. (Mackinac, by the way, is pronounced makuh-naw.)
Fort Mackinac (Photo:

Unlike our local Fort Snelling, much of which had to be reconstructed from crumbled ruins, the buildings at Fort Mackinac are well-preserved remnants of the late eighteenth and nineteenth centuries.  When I visited this place as a kid, the history of the fort in the context of the American Revolution and the War of 1812 did not stick with me.  Nor did I appreciate the role the fort played in the lucrative fur trade economy–an economy involving local Native American tribes, French-Canadian voyageurs, and a host of others.  Instead, the work of Dr. Beaumont, a physician who made some pioneering discoveries in the field of digestion, was a highlight.  Alexis St. Martin, an employee of the American Fur Company, had been the victim of an accidental gunshot wound.  Dr. Beaumont had been able to save St. Martin’s life, but the gunshot left a hole in the stomach that never fully healed, allowing Dr. Beaumont to perform all manner of experiments.  Back in the early 1980s, I’m almost certain that the site told this story through the use of animatronic figures but they are gone now.  In fact, the only animatronic figure left is that of a soldier in the North Blockhouse reporting on the arrival of the British soldiers at the beginning of the War of 1812.  For some visitors, such figures provide “a true immersion experience.” On another website, however, a visitor reported that they were “crazy funny.” I tend to find them a little creepy, but in an oddly appealing way.  They certainly help create a vivid impression of a piece of the fort’s history.

The animatronic figure is the man with the spyglass. (Photo:

More than thirty years had elapsed since I visited the fort, so it was not surprising to see the stories of women featured more prominently in the exhibits. Fort Mackinac, for example, was no different from other forts in allowing officers’ wives to reside at the fort with their husbands–and the fort’s displays do a nice job telling such stories.  At the “Soldiers’ Barracks,” an exclusively male residence by contrast, the accompanying sign speaks to the army’s masculine nature, noting that “[t]wenty-five thousand soldiers served in the all-volunteer, all-male United States Army of the 1880s.”  Nonetheless, the visual artifacts of the exhibit include a trunk at the foot of one of the beds, opened to reveal the nineteenth century’s equivalent of the “pin-up girl.” (Robert Westbrook’s article on the pin-up girl in the context of WWII, by the way, is worth a read.)  Maybe the next iteration of the sign could say something about the role of such images in the lives of the soldiers, but at least displaying the artifact is a start.

Interior Lid of Trunk, “Soldiers Barracks”-Fort Mackinac (Photo: AMK)

Close-up, Interior Lid of Trunk, “Soldiers Barracks”-Fort Mackinac (Photo: AMK)

Some things, of course, happily remain the same.  While the menu has likely seen some significant updating, I’m happy to report that the Tea Room (operated by the famous Grand Hotel) continues the same brisk business I remember from my first visit.  Located in a portion of the “Officers’ Stone Quarters,” the tables on the patio look out over the town below and the ferries bearing more and more tourists.  Join them later for some of that delicious fudge (and peanut brittle)–If the fudge shop dates to the late nineteenth century, I think it counts as historical research!

Murdick’s Fudge dates to 1887, and boasts being the oldest fudge shop on the island.  Several other shops, however, claim nineteenth century origins. Is further research needed? I think yes. (Photo: AMK. Duh.)



The Value of the Christian Liberal Arts

If you follow Chris Gehrz on his any of his social media outlets, then you may have already read about his concern regarding the future of the liberal arts at Christian colleges.  Among the many points Gehrz raises is that instead of just focusing on how a liberal arts degree can net students a job, we might also start by asserting that:

“Our tuition is high, but engaging in four years of patient study in a variety of fields with highly-trained faculty is the most valuable investment you’ll ever make, resulting in the transformation of your heart, mind, body, and spirit at one of the key stages of your life.”

Some of our colleagues at Bethel have read the post, and at least a couple give the impression that purveyors of the liberal arts education still need to reassure parents that such an education will provide their kids jobs and get kids out of their parents’ basement.  Well, for the most part, it does.  But there’s a lot of ways to get a job, and it may not involve going to college at all.  I am all for employment.  I just happen to agree with Gehrz that a lucrative job is not the primary reason folks should attend a Christian liberal arts university.
Back in 2005 when I first applied for my position at Bethel University, I responded to a prompt asking me to “explain what you believe to be the elements essential to the educational theory and practice of a Christian liberal arts college.”  Even then I spoke about the tension between competing visions about education–one emphasizing practical concerns and one emphasizing more visionary concerns.  If you care to read further, here’s what I wrote:

            At the turn of the twentieth century, Booker T. Washington and W. E. B. DuBois disagreed on the type of education African Americans should pursue. Washington thought African Americans should pursue a vocational education because this education would allow them to pursue the practical goals of economic independence, or self-reliance. DuBois, on the other hand, believed that African Americans should pursue a liberal arts education; exposure to the arts, literature, philosophy, and the natural sciences was the route to intellectual excellence and leadership.

            These differing perspectives on education reflected contrasting ideas about the relationship of African Americans to the rest of the world. Washington’s ideas about education supported his theory of racial accommodation—that African Americans should not seek primarily to change the world in which they lived. Instead, they should seek to develop the skills that would allow them to get along as best they could in an imperfect world in which racism circumscribed black rights and opportunities. DuBois, on the other hand, did not believe in racial accommodation. He hoped that, through exposure to the liberal arts, black leaders would arise and challenge the existing norms of society to change it for the better.

            For Christians, questions about the function of education are different, yet there are certain parallels. What are Christians called to do? Are they to give this world up for lost and focus exclusively on their individual quest for reunion with God in the afterlife? Or does the work of sanctification call on Christians to bring about renewal in the present world? In the process of making themselves holy before God, Christians are also called to take part in the redemptive work that Christ himself epitomized with his sacrifice on the cross. For this task, the liberal arts education has much to offer by seeking to acquaint students with a broad understanding of the world in which they live.

            On the one hand, a liberal arts education can deepen students’ appreciation for God’s creation. When God had finished creating the world, he pronounced it good. Even though sin has corrupted this world, there are still evidences of that goodness. This is true not only in the natural world but in the contributions of humans, who, after all, were created just a little lower than the angels. The study of the natural sciences helps students see the intricacies of that creation just as the study of the arts allows students to understand the creative abilities God endowed to humans.

            On the other hand, a liberal arts education can also show students the brokenness of creation, alerting them to the redemptive work that must still be done. While we are commanded to think upon holy things, we must also be willing to minister to the broken parts of creation. The study of natural sciences also helps students see creation run amuck just as the study of the arts shows students the darkness in the hearts of humankind.

            Today, a Christian liberal arts college must retain some of the Washingtonian elements of education, equipping students with practical skills for economic independence, so that they can accommodate themselves to the world in which they live. Yet, a Christian liberal arts college must also offer students a deeper, broader understanding of the world in which they live, not only as a way of strengthening their understanding of the Creator but also as a way of creating Christian leaders to challenge the existing brokenness of society and change it for the better.

When I think about what I want for my daughter, I don’t first think of what kind of job she will have.  Instead, I think of what kind of person she will be, and–to paraphrase the 1928 Book of Common Prayer–what good works the Lord has prepared for her to walk in.  My hope is that a Christian liberal arts education is in her future, that it will help her grow in her faith, illuminate and challenge her mind, and provide her with a beloved community of support as she sets forth on a path of holy calling.  If such a path involves some couch surfing in my basement, so be it.

Faculty Excellence Award for Service: Sam Mulberry

It is the first day of the Minnesota State Fair, so clearly the end of summer is in sight.  Fall semester classes begin Monday.  That means that this week faculty have been busy putting the final touches on course syllabi, preparing to meet new students, arranging calendars to accommodate a full slate of meetings and other obligations, and attending faculty retreat. Phew.

Faculty retreat isn’t necessarily everyone’s summer highlight, but it is the event where we have a chance to honor a trio of outstanding colleagues in the areas of scholarship, teaching, and service.  This year, Sam Mulberry received the Faculty Excellence Award for Service.

Sam Mulberry receiving the Faculty Excellence Award for Service from Ruth Nelson.  (Faculty Retreat, 22 August 2017) Note the standing ovation!

Ruth Nelson, who serves as Co-Director of the Academic Enrichment and Support Center with Sam, led the nomination effort.  Because Sam’s service to Bethel is so multifaceted, however, a variety of folks including Christianity and Western Culture colleagues, Patrice Conrath (advising), and Kent Gerber (library) joined Ruth to help provide a glimpse of all that Sam does for this university.  Together, these colleagues spoke of how Sam “produces innovative media that enhance student learning,” “builds community and mentors students,” “provides presence, voice and actions to support multiple committees and task forces,” and “pursues programs and practices that support student success.”

Former students, too, spoke of Sam’s impact on their lives:

“Sam Mulberry’s support and encouragement for his T.A.’s was never in question. From my first weekly planning meeting as a teacher’s assistant for Christianity and Western Culture, I was already caught up in the infectious laughs and sincere discussion of fellow T.A.’s and Professor Mulberry. Opening up his home to T.A.’s for team development and bonding, providing himself as a main contact we could access for academic concerns – all the while insisting we call him “Sam” – Professor Mulberry’s personal devotion to creating a unique and cohesive community for teacher’s assistants proved to be a great success. In an unsure time of all undergraduate students’ lives, when we easily felt weighed down by concerns of the future and insecurities of the present, Sam drew out and uplifted our skills and characters.

…Oftentimes there is a distinction between teachers who have a passion for their content and teachers who love their students. Professor Mulberry fits the mold of both, displaying his deep dedication to the discipline of history while continuing to enrich the lives of students through authentic relationship-building.”

Sam is extraordinary.  He is truly ecumenical in his service—willing to help all: students, staff, professors, administration.  Sam’s colleagues have noted that “Sam recognizes that his gifts . . . are all from the Lord and he generously gives back to see students succeed. A number of us are extremely thankful that Sam serves and works alongside us at Bethel University.”


Greetings from the Huntington

John Sloane, McSorley’s Cats (on display at the Huntington’s Virginia Steele Scott Gallery)

As Dr. Gehrz mentioned a few posts ago, I have been spending my time of late at the Huntington.  Located in San Marino, California, the Huntington boasts several gardens, terrific art galleries, and an incredible library.  Daily I walk past lemon, orange, fig, and kumquat trees, and the abundant jasmine and lavender infuse the smog with a hint of perfume.  Sir Thomas Gainsborough’s “The Blue Boy” resides here in what was once the Huntington mansion (but since 1924, a full-fledged art gallery). I definitely preferred the collection of American art at the Virginia Steele Scott Gallery, however, including John Sloane’s “McSorley’s Cats” (shown above).  Given my research interests, let’s just say that scene is fitting. The library, too, is home to several masterpieces, including some from my neighborhood’s namesake, John J. Audubon–just one example from a collection of 420,000 rare books and 7 million manuscripts.   So, if you’re still looking for summer travel ideas, the Huntington is worth a visit.

The Huntington is also a great place to research.  Summer is peak research time here, and you can find folks like me in the Ahmanson Reading Room in the Munger Research Center.  I’ve spent most of the last week and a half poring over the collection of  “Los Angeles area court records, 1850-1910” for my book, Gender and the Business of Prostitution in Los Angeles, 1850-1940.  The research has been rewarding, but in surprising ways.  The criminal records, for example, yielded a few nuggets of new information, but they mostly confirmed what I knew from extensive newspaper research.  The records dealing with property–whether in the probate or superior court–were a different story.  They painted an extraordinarily detailed picture of the everyday lives of individuals involved in the business of prostitution.  When people fight over assets, they tend to list every one of them in the court documents they file, down to the “one petrified greyhound” in the “rooms off the parlor”–what?  Digging through such inventories has made me feel like more of an archeologist than a historian, but such an experience speaks to the craft of our discipline.  History requires not only the work of uncovering the artifacts, but the skill (and discipline) of interpretation and narration.  I only hope that NE Minneapolis is as beneficial to the latter as the Huntington has been for the former.