LILLIAN CROOK: WildDakotaWoman — ‘Chocolate’ at the North Dakota Heritage Center

“Only when we know little things do we know anything; doubt grows with knowledge.” — Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

With the exception of my home, my favorite human-made place in the state is the North Dakota Heritage Center. I live a short distance from there and go very frequently, to view the exhibits, to eat lunch, to do research at the State Archives and just to hang out in their pleasant spaces. Heck, I just like to drive by! It is one of North Dakota’s crown jewels.

This morning I went there to see the temporary exhibit “Chocolate“, something that has been on “my list” for months. And learn more about chocolate, did I. From the tree on which the pods grow, to the Mayan and Aztec cultures, to the spread of chocolate around the world and more.

All of this made me want to eat some chocolate, so I made a pass through the excellent James River Cafe for an indulgence.

Then, I strolled over to check out their new exhibit on World War I. I highly recommend both exhibits.  When I was living in Medora, I worked as a museum technician for Theodore Roosevelt National Park. I love museums and visit as many as I can. Kudos to the hard-working and talented staff at the North Dakota Heritage Center. What a good investment of our tax dollars.

LILLIAN CROOK: WildDakotaWoman — One Of my Favorite Places In Bismarck: The North Dakota Heritage Center

On, Thursday I made a morning stop to my favorite place in Bismarck, the North Dakota Heritage Center. (Well, the Missouri River is my favorite natural place, but you get the idea).

I needed to purchase a couple of books at the gift shop and do a little research.

But first, a snack at the James River Cafe. A group of young folks came in at the same time I did, so I chatted with them. They were staff from the State Library, on a break. I told them that I am a retired librarian, and I asked them some questions about their particular jobs there. They were a cheerful bunch.

Here is one of the books I purchased, the third edition of “A Traveler’s Companion to North Dakota State Historic Sites.” The staff at the State Historical Society of North Dakota have greatly improved upon the second edition. This new one includes many helpful maps and photographs. This will go in our Highlander. Remember, my husband and I are history nerds, and both of us are besotted with North Dakota. He was at one time the state tourism director.

We are members of the State Historical Society and receive at home their excellent publication “North Dakota History.” We also have a collection of most of the back issues, but we are missing one that holds an article I was in need of, hence the trip there.

My old friend, Jim Davis, was working. I always thoroughly enjoyed chatting with him. I have the utmost respect for the staff of the State Archives and Historical Research Library and some sense of their devotion and the diligent work required in the task of being the caretakers of this place. A deep bow to all of the staff of the State Historical Society, some of the best folks of North Dakota.

The institutional memory that Jim Davis holds leaves me in awe. You may have heard his name on Prairie Public Radio as one of the writers of the vignettes “Dakota Datebook.” More often than not, he has the answer to my questions, or knows where to look, and is very interested when I dig up nuggets he’s not heard of before.

As to the staff’s dedication, look at just this glimpse of the reading room and of the microfilm collection. Do you have any idea how much work goes into keeping all of this organized and available to researchers?

I pull one reel of microfilm and make my way to the torture device known as the microfilm reader. I can’t say I found exactly what I was looking for, but I found (and printed) something, and Jim made copies for me from the back issue of “North Dakota History” that was my particular focus of this day. I never leave the SHSND Library without learning something.

I make my way back toward the parking lot, my path taking me through a hallway that holds so many memories for me, as I’ve attended dozens of meetings in these rooms, taking a break in the sunshine that pours in through the windows.

And it just makes me happy to walk by this beautiful map.

A couple of last glimpses and it is time to go home.

DAVE BRUNER: Photo Gallery — North Dakota Snapshots

From the back roads and byways to the capital city of Bismarck, North Dakota offers some spectacular viewing, especially this time of the year. Grand Forks photographer Dave Bruner’s recent travels across the state presented some great photo ops, which he shares here.

JEFF OLSON: Photo Gallery — Bismarck, North Dakota

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Alexandria, Va., photographer Jeff Olson returned to his home state of North Dakota recently and captured these shots in the capital city Bismarck.