Historian Frank Vyzralek

So I’m sitting here at my desk this Saturday morning looking up some more details of the crop lien system of farming from the 1860s to 1890, and reading academic articles on the origins of agribusiness. I’m doing this in preparation for this coming week’s lectures that deal with a period of American history from 1890-1900. I’m engaged in my usual over-preparation, which I’m fine with. In fact, I find that as my over-preparation intensifies, the glorious edgy feeling one gets before lectures and presentations begins to ebb.

But even earlier this morning I caught an article in The Bismarck Tribune on the passing of Frank Vyzralek. Sometimes it’s okay to stop reading articles on the crop lien system of farming so as to direct that energy toward thinking about the passing of a friend and colleague. So I thought I’d type out just a couple immediate thoughts that came to me after reading about Frank this morning.

  • In doing my own research at the State Historical Society of North Dakota over the years, it was common to see Frank — long white hair and long white beard — at the microfiche reader, with laptop, typing out notes for one area of research or another.
  • On occasion, I would bump into Frank at a local watering hole in north Bismarck. I think the last conversation I had with Frank happened years ago, this about Joseph Henry Taylor. I remember Frank sipped a glass of red wine as we traded Joe Taylor points back and forth.

Thanks for all the history, Frank. Thanks for reminding us how unique a place North Dakota was, and is.


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