Students explore early Moorhead for academic conference

By Kristin Miller

The 2015 Student Academic Conference takes place today, and one group of MSUM students has been working hard to put together a unique symposium to present at the event.

The symposium, titled “History of Early Moorhead,” brings together 10 individual student presenters, each of whom will be presenting a different historical aspect of the early days of our city from around 1890 to the 1930s.

The work was completed as a part of this semester’s Interpretive History course, and along with the Student Academic Conference, work completed by the students will comprise a traveling museum exhibit.

Archaeology senior Emily Silverman is one of the students participating in the symposium. Silverman’s presentation is titled “Gomorrah of the North: Sin and Vice in Early Moorhead.”

“There were more than 40 saloons in Moorhead,” Silverman said, adding many of these saloons sprang up after North Dakota became a “dry” state for a period in the late 1800s. She said people from Fargo would often boat across the Red River to enter saloons directly from the riverbank. Along with the saloon boom came a number of brothels, and a Ku Klux Klan presence in the area.

Other portions of the symposium have names like “A City of Immigrants: Then and Now,” “Women in Early Moorhead,” “Bringing Education to Moorhead” and “Trails, Trains, and Trolleys: How Moorhead got its Start.” Together, the presenters have worked to create a picture of what life was like for some of the first people to call Moorhead home.

Silverman said archives from the Hjemkomst Center have been valuable for the students’ research, along with microfilm copies of newspapers from the time.

Other student presenters for the symposium include Steven Mindermann, Jesus Romero Lopez, Danielle Lean, Chelsey Quiring, Carlie Peterson, Beatrice Franke, Evangeline Holley, Bailey Benson and Isaac Horn.

Extending the reach of their project has also included stopping by local elementary and middle schools to engage school-age students with history.

On one recent visit to Horizon Middle School, Silverman said they took kids through what the immigrant experience was like in early Moorhead.

“It was a really great experience,” she said, to “make history accessible” for the students. She said they’ve had a great response from the kids.

But for now, the presenters have their sights set on today’s Academic Conference. And it’s not only a history lesson their audience will be getting.

Presentations running throughout the day span a wide range of topics, with titles as disparate as “Chinese Investment in Africa” and “Variation in Turtle Capture Rates over Summer Months in Clay County, Minnesota.”

Traditionally, the Student Academic Conference serves as a day for students to present research, projects, papers and other endeavors they have been working on throughout the semester.

A history of the event compiled by Paul Kramer and Brian M. Card said that since its inception in 1998, the event has seen growth in participation every year, spurring a much-anticipated day of academic discourse.

“The conference organizers remain committed to encouraging a multi-disciplinary approach to research projects, allowing visitors and guests to explore a panoply of different efforts showing the breadth of opportunities presented in the campus environment,” Kramer and Card wrote.

This year doesn’t look to be any different. Students are encouraged to stop by and take in the presentations, which run from 9:40 a.m. – 3:30 p.m. in several locations throughout the CMU. A full schedule and list of presenters can be found under the “Presentation Schedule” tab at

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