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“Good Ol’ Binder Twine: The Rest of the Story” program, Sod House Museum
January 21, 10:00 am - 12:00 pm
The history of binder twine will be presented by Dr. Sterling Evans at the Sod House Museum Saturday, January 21, 2017 at 10 am. Did you know that the United States almost went to war over this seemingly common farmyard commodity? That story and others show how much wheat farmers across the Great Plains of the United States and Canada came to depend on this product from 1880 to 1950.
Drawing on his book Bound in Twine, Dr. Sterling Evans from the Department of History at the University of Oklahoma will speak about the many facets and aspects of wheat harvesting in that seventy-year time period, especially on the development of grain binders that were used before most farmers switched to combines later in the twentieth century. Binders required twine and the best source of fiber came from plants in Mexico and the Philippines. How that was discovered, how it was developed, the labor practices it required, how competitive it became, and even changes to the environment are all part of the “rest of the story.” As a major wheat-producing state, Oklahoma played a role in this history, as Dr. Evans will discuss. During the period when farmers harvested with binders, Oklahoma, the Great Plains, and many other points across the globe all became bound in twine.
Sterling Evans holds the Louise Welsh Chair in Southern Plains and Borderlands History at the University of Oklahoma where he teaches Latin American, environmental, and borderlands history. His research interests include North American transnational history and ecosystem or landscape histories that transcend national boundaries. He is the author of Bound in Twine: The Henequen-Wheat Complex for Mexico and the American and Canadian Plains, 1880–1950 (2007) and The Green Republic: A Conservation History of Costa Rica (1999). His current project, Damming Sonora: Water, Agriculture, and Environmental Change in Northwest Mexico is nearing completion. His PhD in History was from the University of Kansas and he has taught at several different universities in California and Canada before coming to OU, where he has been for eight years.