I earned my Ph.D. in History at the University of Minnesota with a concentration in medieval history and a sub-field in early modern world trade. Little did I know that it would lead me to the James Ford Bell Library, the only special collection in the world that focuses on world trade and cultural exchange prior to ca. 1800 C.E.! The James Ford Bell Library's collection of more than 40,000 rare books, maps, manuscripts and archival collections, government documents and other materials is open to everyone. A large part of my job as curator is helping researchers find the right materials for their projects, introducing students and others to the collection through lectures and presentations, and giving talks to community groups whose members might have an interest in the subject or who may be potential donors or researchers. The collection ranges from 15th-century merchant correspondence to accounts of Captain James Cook's 18th-century voyages of discovery; from a 5th-century itinerary for travel from Cairo to Constantinople to the first printed books to the archives of the Swedish East India Company. My work is closely connected to the teaching and learning mission of the University and I am a member of the graduate faculties of History, Medieval Studies, and Early Modern Studies. I also sit on the advisory board for the Center for Medieval Studies, the executive committee for the Center for Early Modern History, and on the governing board of the Mellon-funded Consortium for the Study of the Pre-Modern World, for which I am also the director of its Digital Research Workshop. I regularly teach the James Ford Bell Library Seminar in Comparative World History, ca. 1000 to ca. 1800: An Introduction to Archival Research to graduate students from across the university.
In a past life, I co-founded a tax and accounting firm with my husband, now run by two of our sons; was part of the advertising and marketing team for a local ammunition manufacturer; and led a real estate investment firm, following a stint in banking. Before graduate school, my avocation was acting and I performed in many a play and musical around town as part of community theater.