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Norris publishes book

Jim Norris, associate professor of history at NDSU, recently had a new book, “North for the Harvest: Mexican Workers, Growers and the Sugar Beet Industry,” published by the Minnesota Historical Society Press.

The book traces the evolution of the sugar beet industry in the Red River Valley from its beginnings shortly after World War I through the mid-1970s. Norris focuses on the interactions and interrelationships among American Crystal Sugar Co., North Dakota and Minnesota farmers and migrant workers. Norris found that these relationships were complex. American Crystal often clashed with its growers when advocating for migrant workers. Many growers developed personal ties with the migrant workers who they employed year after year, while the migrant laborers themselves often found ways to improve their standards of living. As one migrant who eventually settled in the Valley recalled, “We broke the chain here.”

“I’m enormously pleased with this book,” Norris said, “because it grew out of the NDSU land-grant tradition. When I came here in 1997, my colleagues encouraged me to look for a regional topic to develop. As a Mexican historian, I was drawn to a story of how the local Mexican-American population came to reside in the valley. The answer, I discovered, was sugar beets.”

Norris is researching global history of sugar production and the people who have toiled in the industry.  

Student Focused. Land Grant. Research University.

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North Dakota State University
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Last Updated: Friday, May 13, 2022 4:03:55 PM
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