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Terry Evans & Elizabeth Farnsworth: North Dakota Oil Boom


Summary Note

Terry Evans and Elizabeth Farnsworth traveled throughout the Williston Basin—an area that includes part of North and South Dakota, Montana, Manitoba, and Saskatchewan—for 18 months to explore the effects the oil boom is having on both prairie and people. Materials include working photographs, research materials, maps, blogs, email correspondence, notes, and press materials.

Biographical Note

Terry Evans, a Chicago photographer, has photographed the prairies and plains of North America and the urban prairie of Chicago, combining both aerial and ground photography. Work in the first decade of the twenty-first century explored working steel mills and Greenland’s Jakobshavn Glacier. In 2011 she completed a long-term project about the town of Matfield Green, Kansas and the surrounding Flint Hills. She has exhibited widely including one-person shows at the Chicago Art Institute, the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History, and The Field Museum of Natural History. She is a Guggenheim Fellow and a recipient of an Anonymous Was a Woman award. Her work is in major museum collections including the Chicago Art Institute, Museum of Modern Art, N.Y., San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, Smithsonian American Art Museum, Whitney Museum of American Art, Corcoran Gallery of Art, Museum of Contemporary Photography, and many other collections. She was named a CA+E Research Fellow for 2011-2013. Elizabeth Farnsworth joined the PBS NewsHour as a contributing correspondent in 1984 and became chief correspondent and principal substitute anchor in 1995. She became a senior correspondent in October 1999 to concentrate primarily on covering foreign affairs and the arts from the NewsHour office in San Francisco. She left the full-time staff in 2004 but continues as a special correspondent, reporting from Latin America and the Middle East, among other places. Farnsworth made a feature-length documentary, The Judge and the General, which she co-directed and produced with Patricio Lanfranco of Chile. The film tells the story of the transformation of a conservative judge in Chile as he investigates the first charges of murder and torture against former dictator Augusto Pinochet. The documentary premiered at the 2008 San Francisco Film Festival and aired on the PBS series P.O.V. Honors for the film include an Alfred I. duPont-Columbia University award, an Emmy nomination, and a Director's Guild of America nomination for best documentary direction.
Farnsworth has covered international events on location for the NewsHour in Israel, the West Bank and Gaza, Iraq, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Turkey, Vietnam, Cambodia, Haiti, Peru, Guatemala, Nicaragua Venezuela, Chile, Korea, and Japan, among other places. In 2001, she reported from Malawi and Botswana on the AIDS crisis in Africa in a special four-part series (produced by Joanne Elgart), which received the 2001 Silver World Medal from the New York Festivals and an Emmy nomination. Other independent PBS documentaries produced by Farnsworth include Thanh's War and The Gospel and Guatemala. Her writings have appeared in Foreign Policy, World Policy Journal, The San Francisco Chronicle, The Nation, and other publications. She graduated from Middlebury College in 1965, earned her master's in Latin American history from Stanford University, and lived in Peru and Chile for extended periods. She was named a CA+E Research Fellow for 2011-2013.

Scope and Content

To paraphrase the CA+E blog of Elizabeth Farnsworth, the Williston Basin is a 300,000 square mile depression that includes part of North and South Dakota, Montana, Manitoba, and Saskatchewan. Two miles underneath lies the shale formation called the Bakken, where hydraulic fracturing has unlocked vast amounts of petroleum. Evans and Farnsworth took cameras, geology books, laptops, and notebooks throughout North Dakota for 18 months to explore the long-term effects of the oil boom on prairie and people. The project generated aerial and ground-based photographs, a lengthy blog series for the CA+E, and an exhibition Chicago’s Field Museum. Extensive interviews were conducted with people on all sides of the boom. The stories and photographs created a nuanced and complicated narrative of a contemporary boom-and-bust cycle that is still in its infancy in one of North America’s most fragile and misunderstood landscapes. Materials include working photographs, research materials, maps, blogs, email correspondence, notes, and press materials.


"Terry Evans & Elizabeth Farnsworth: North Dakota Oil Boom" is organized into three series that follow the progress of the project. Series 1: Project Research and Development Series 2: Project Implementation Series 3: Project Outcomes
  • "Terry Evans & Elizabeth Farnsworth: North Dakota Oil Boom" is organized into three series that follow the progress of the project.
  • Series 1: Project Research and Development
  • Series 2: Project Implementation
  • Series 3: Project Outcomes

Inclusive Dates


Bulk Dates


Quantity / Extent

.75 cubic feet



Related Archive Collections

  • CAE2228 Extraction: Art on the Edge of the Abyss
  • CAE2005 Lee Saloutos: Nevada Mines
  • CAE1001 Lucy Raven: China Town

Related Publications

Burtynsky, Edward. Manufactured Landscapes. Ottawa, Canada: National Gallery of Canada in association with Yale University Press, 2003.

Burtynsky, Edward. Oil. Göttingen, Germany; London, UK: Steidl, 2009.

Corner, James, and Alex S. MacLean. Taking Measures across the American Landscape. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1996.

Evans, Terry. Disarming the Prairie. Baltimore, MD: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 1998.

Evans, Terry. The Inhabited Prairie. Lawrence, KS: University Press of Kansas, 1998.

Ganis, John. Consuming the American Landscape. Stockport, UK: Dewi Lewis Publishing, 2003.

McGrath, Thomas. Letter to an Imaginary Friend. Port Townsend, WA: Copper Canyon Press, 1997.

Misrach, Richard. Petrochemical America. New York, NY: Aperture Foundation, 2012.

Container Listing by Series:

CAE1407/1 Series 1: Project Research and Development, 1980-2011

Series 1 includes project collaboration and design correspondence and geological research materials.
  • CAE Box 60

    • 1-1 Terry Evans Early Prairie Materials, 1996-2009
    • 1-2 Collaboration and Development Correspondence, 2011
    • 1-3 Geology Research Materials (1 of 2), 1980-2010
    • 1-4 Geology Research Materials (2 of 2), 2010-2012

Additional Materials

  • Archive Bin 3

    • 1-3#3 Geologic Map of North Dakota, Lee Clayton, North Dakota Geological Survey, 1980
  • CAE Flat File F5 Oversized Items

    • 1-3#4 Prehistoric Life of North Dakota, Poster, 2005
    • 1-3#5 North Dakota Stratigraphic Column, Poster, 2009
    • 1-4#101 First 60 – 90 Day Average Bakken Horizontal Production by Well, Map, July 2012
  • CAE S-Box 13

    • 1-3#2 Northern Plains Overland Trails—1839 – 1903, State Historical Society of North Dakota, not dated

CAE1407/2 Series 2: Project Implementation, 2001-2012

Series 2 includes project implementation materials including notes, travel information, and local oil-related publications.
  • CAE Box 60

    • 2-1 Travel Schedule, Maps, and General Ephemera, 2001-2011
    • 2-2 June 2011 Trip, 2006-2011
    • 2-3 August 2011 Trip, 2011
    • 2-4 October 2011 Trip, 2011
    • 2-5 May 2012 Trip, 2011-2012
    • 2-6 November 2012 Trip, 2012
    • 2-7 Local Newspaper Oil Related Articles, 2011-2012
    • 2-8 Oil Related Publications (1 of 2), 2011
    • 2-9 Oil Related Publications (2 of 2), 2011-2012

Additional Materials

  • CAE Flat File F5 Oversized Items

    • 2-1#3 Discovering the Legacy of Lewis and Clark, Map, 2003
    • 2-1#5 North Dakota Official Highway, Map, 2009 – 2010
    • 2-1#6 Williams County, Map, not dated
  • CAE Flat File F16 Oversized Items

    • 2-1#2 North Dakota South Dakota, Map, 2/01 – 5/02
    • 2-1#4 North Dakota Official Highway, Map, 2003 – 2004
  • CAE S-Box 13

    • 2-1#9 Williston, The West of North Dakota, Map, not dated
    • 2-7#1 Oil, Magazine, June 2011, Number 14
    • 2-7#11 Bakken Breakout 2012, Volume 3, Issue 3, Magazine, May 2012
  • CAE S-Box 64

    • 2-7#2 Where The Jobs Are, Newspaper Supplement, August 2011
    • 2-7#3 Williston Herald, Newspaper, August 26, 2011
    • 2-7#4 Williston Herald, Newspaper, August 28, 2011
    • 2-7#5 Minot Daily News, Newspaper, August 28, 2011
    • 2-7#6 Williston Herald, Newspaper, October 14, 2011
    • 2-7#7 Minot Daily News, Newspaper, October 14, 2011
    • 2-7#8 Williston Herald, Newspaper, October 16, 2011
    • 2-7#10 The Bakken Region Recruiter, Newspaper Supplement, May 2012
    • 2-7#12 Williston Herald, Newspaper, May 22, 2012
    • 2-7#13 Williston Herald, Newspaper, May 23, 2012
    • 2-7#14 Crosby Journal, Newspaper, May 23, 2012
    • 2-7#15 Tioga Tribune, Newspaper, May 23, 2012
    • 2-9#3 Petroleum News Bakken, Newspaper, May 6, 2012

CAE1407/3 Series 3: Project Outcomes, 2011-2015

Series 3 includes materials related to project outcomes including work prints, five final prints, blog materials, press materials and exhibition ephemera related to the Field Museum, Nevada Museum of Art, and North Dakota Museum exhibitions.
  • CAE Box 60

    • 3-1 Proof and Final Prints, 2011-2012
    • 3-2 Nevada Museum of Art Blog, 1997-2012
    • 3-3 Field Museum Exhibition, 2011-2014
    • 3-4 Nevada Museum of Art Exhibition, 2014-2015
    • 3-5 North Dakota Museum of Art Exhibition, 2014
    • 3-6 Press/Media, 2013-2015

Additional Materials

  • CAE Flat File F5 Oversized Items

    • 3-1#42 Sara Jo Gieseke, oil company environmental specialist, daughter of Scott Davis, White Earth, ND, 2012 (Final Print)
  • CAE Flat File F16 Oversized Items

    • 3-1#4 Oil pipeline right of way, Mountrail Co., June 2011
    • 3-1#10 House + oil pad, Jorgenson land, October 2011
    • 3-1#11 Oil pad + hills S. Of Highway 2, October 2011
    • 3-1#12 Oil Waste Dump between Tioga and New Town, October 2011 (Final Print)
    • 3-1#15 Abandoned bank, White Earth, April 2012
    • 3-1#23 Teepee stones above White Earth, April 2012
    • 3-1#25 Brenda Jorgenson, White Earth Valley, May 2012
    • 3-1#26 Daryl Morgan, drilling crew, May 2012
    • 3-1#27 Edyth Pladson, retired teacher, Wildrose, May 2012
    • 3-1#28 Frank Keogh, former bank pres + rancher, Williston, May 2012
    • 3-1#29 Harley Bingenheimer, pipe wrangler, Evanston, Wyoming, May 2012
    • 3-1#30 Jaye R. Henderson, drilling supervisor + rancher, Miles City, Mont., May 2012
    • 3-1#31 Motel worker Elena Rosca, Moldava, May 2012
    • 3-1#32 Nelson Bird Bear, Berthold Reservation, May 2012
    • 3-1#33 Preparation for fracking S. of Stanley, May 2012
    • 3-1#34 Scott Davis, White Earth, May 2012
    • 3-1#35 Scott’s Appaloosas resting, May 2012
    • 3-1#36 Stacey Reynolds, Stanley N.D., May 2012
    • 3-1#37 Matt Conway, roustabout, San Diego, August 2012
    • 3-1#40 Freddie Abbona, directional driller, Uruguay, November 2012
    • 3-1#41a Water tank and flare SW of Williston, November 2012
    • 3-1#43 Bison + Elk, Fred Evans cabin, 2012
  • CAE S-Box 13

    • 3-3#15 Public Discussion Announcement Poster, October 2013
    • 3-5#2 Exhibition Poster, North Dakota Museum of Art, 2014
  • CAE S-Box 59

    • 3-1#16 Depot for shipping oil by rail near Trenton, April 2012
    • 3-1#22a Prairie Potholes N. of McGregor, April 2012
    • 3-1#24 Testing for sand mining, April 2012
  • CAE S-Box 60

    • 3-1#7 Kevin Davis in new house, August 2011
    • 3-1#8 Sign outside White Earth, August 2011
    • 3-1#9 Above Mo R. bluffs, oil pad, October 2011
    • 3-1#18 Kevin Davis new house, April 2012
    • 3-1#19 New housing Williston, April 2012
    • 3-1#20 Oil pads along Missouri R., April 2012
    • 3-1#39 Blow out prevention stack, November 2012
  • CAE S-Box 64

    • 3-1#2a Davis oil pad in midst of virgin prairie, June 2011
    • 3-1#3 Kevin Davis front porch, June 2011
    • 3-1#5 Alexey Shipunov, botanist, collecting specimens on Davis virgin prairie, August 2011
    • 3-1#13 Oil waste dump site, October 2011
    • 3-1#17 Fracked pad Williston area, April 2012
    • 3-1#21 Oil pads just north of Mo R., April 2012
    • 3-1#38 Truck dust, August 2012
    • 3-1#44 Bison mural, Minot gas station, 2012
    • 3-1#45 Mural and door, Crosby?, 2012
    • 3-1#46 Mural, Crosby?, 2012
  • Collection Storage Rolling Rack

    • 3-1#2b Oil pad on Davis prairie, June 2011 (Final Print)
    • 3-1#22b Oil pads and prairie potholes near Williston, ND, April 2012 (Final Print)
    • 3-1#41b Water tank and flare SW of Williston, November 2012 (Final Print)