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Press Release

January 18, 2017

Contact: Renee Trindle
Sod House Museum, Oklahoma Historical Society
Office: 580-463-2441

“Good Ol’ Binder Twine: The Rest of the Story” Presentation at the Sod House Museum

ALINE, Okla. — The Sod House Museum southeast of Aline will host “Good Ol’ Binder Twine: The Rest of the Story,” a free presentation by Dr. Sterling Evans, on Saturday, January 21, at 10 a.m. Wheat farmers in the Great Plains came to depend on this product from about 1880 through 1950, and binder twine’s discovery and development—a story with many more twists and turns than anyone would image—contributed to its unique role in history.

Drawing on his book Bound in Twine: The History and Ecology of the Henequen-Wheat Complex for Mexico and the American and Canadian Plains, 1880–1950 (2007), Dr. Sterling Evans from the Department of History at the University of Oklahoma (OU) will share about the many aspects of wheat harvesting in that seventy-year time period, especially the development of grain binders that were used before most farmers switched to combines later in the 20th 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, what kinds of labor practices it required, how competitive it all became and changes to the environment are all part of this story. Oklahoma, as a major wheat-producing state, certainly played a role in this history, as Dr. Evans will discuss. For the years when farmers harvested with binders, Oklahoma, all of the Great Plains and many other points across the globe became bound in twine.

Dr. Sterling Evans, who was raised in North Dakota and Colorado, 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. He earned his doctorate in history from the University of Kansas and taught at several universities in California and Canada before coming to OU, where he has taught for eight years. 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 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. He also has edited three volumes: a companion reader on American Indian history for U.S. survey courses (2002), The Borderlands of the American and Canadian Wests: Essays on Regional History of the 49th Parallel (2006) and Farming across Borders: Transnational Agricultural History in the North American West (coming in 2017).

The Sod House Museum is a division of the Oklahoma Historical Society. The museum is open Tuesday through Saturday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., and is located southeast of Aline on State Highway 8. For more information please contact Director Renee Trindle at 580-463-2441 or sodhouse@okhistory.org.

The mission of the Oklahoma Historical Society is to collect, preserve and share the history and culture of the state of Oklahoma and its people. Founded in 1893 by members of the Territorial Press Association, the OHS maintains museums, historic sites and affiliates across the state. Through its research archives, exhibits, educational programs and publications the OHS chronicles the rich history of Oklahoma. For more information about the OHS, please visit www.okhistory.org.

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