At twenty, I moved from the Midwest to Boston, planning to study American Colonial History. After two years there I still loved early American history, but had decided that I was a midwesterner. Where Bostonians and other East Coast people had a special relationship with the ocean, I was fearful. But give me an open sky, a flat landscape and I was at home. So, I went to Indiana University to study the US from the "inside out." It was never only the Midwest that I wanted to understand, but I wanted to approach the US from the middle.
For over thirty years I taught at Saint John's University and the College of Saint Benedict in Collegeville, Minnesota. I took as my life's work working with undergraduates who were not history majors, not even minors, but students who were enrolled in their only or last college history course. I developed a kind of missionary zeal in this context -- how could I persuade, demonstrate, inspire in the students some appreciation for, indeed love of, history as a way of understanding and analyzing themselves and their worlds.