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Robinson’s History Book Re-published


For many years there has been a key “go to” print source for information about North Dakota’s past. North Dakotans, with either a casual or intense curiosity about the heritage and historical perspective of their state, have benefited from Dr. Elwyn B. Robinson’s “The History of North Dakota” since its publication in 1966.

Robinson chaired the UND history department and served for a time as director of the State Historical Society of North Dakota. His work on the book took many years, and it became the standard historical text for the 39th state, which was carved from Dakota Territory.

In his preface Robinson wrote: “I have sought to view North Dakota’s history in broad perspective, relating it to major events in the history of the Western world, and to demonstrate how the conditions of existence shaped the character of the men and women who settled the state. For it is my conviction that an adequate knowledge of North Dakota’s past provides the best foundation for making public decisions which will determine its future.”

The book fell out of print, but was re-published on this date in 1988, making it easily available to new readers. With its easy-to-read writing style, the book starts with the history of the land before human life and takes the reader well into the 20th century.

The reprint’s postscript was written by Dr. David Danbom, well-known and recently retired NDSU history professor. Danbom, a long time teacher, writer and researcher, captures an optimistic and thoughtful observation about the land and its people. This is part of what he writes:

“North Dakotans continue to be part of the ‘commonwealth’ political tradition. They take their responsibilities as citizens seriously and they vote in large numbers (65 percent or better in most presidential contests). They are civil to one another and distrust the negative, sound-biting campaigning that plays such an important role in contemporary politics in the United States.

North Dakotans continue to expect their elected officials will be honest, forthcoming and accessible. North Dakota leads the nation in elected officials per capita … it can be interpreted as showing the willingness of some North Dakotans to serve their communities and the desire of others to have accessible and responsible government.”

Dakota Datebook written by Steve Stark

Source: Robinson, Elwyn B. 1966, (and 1988) University of Nebraska Press History of North Dakota