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Umbanhowar contributes to Smithsonian blog

By Amy Lohmann '14
September 26, 2011

What would it be like to wander North America before (or shortly after) the arrival of European explorers and settlers? What did the landscape look like? Who were the people already living here and how did they interact with their world?

Those are the questions that St. Olaf Professor of Biology and Environmental Studies Charles Umbanhowar Jr. poses at the beginning of his recent entry in the Smithsonian's Field Book Project blog.

Umbanhowar's entry details his research of the 1836–39 expedition notebooks of Joseph N. Nicollet, an explorer of the American Midwest. The notebooks provide insight into the physical landscape of the Midwest before it was transformed into farmland, Umbanhowar notes.

The goal of the Field Book Project is to create one online location for information about field books and field research materials that document biodiversity. The blog frequently features articles from guest bloggers from within the Smithsonian, and from colleagues across the country and globe.

Contact Kari VanDerVeen at 507-786-3970 or