The Plains FolkTM Home Page

Plains FolkTM is the self-syndicated newspaper column written by Jim Hoy (Emporia, Kansas) and Tom Isern (West Fargo, North Dakota) and devoted to life on the Great Plains of North America. This home page provides entrée to web pages that provide information about Plains FolkTM, about its authors, and about their activities and interests.
Plains FolkTM Business

Bio for Jim Hoy

Bio for Tom Isern

Commerce of the Prairies
(books by Jim & Tom)

Map of the Great Plains

Kindred House

Extreme History
(Tom's projects)

Buffalo Commons - news & discussion forum for Great Plains books - go to Facebook > Book Clubs > Buffalo Commons

Plains FolkTM on Prairie Public Radio

Concerts & Lectures

Dakota Memories Oral History Project

Historic Architectural Survey of Bowman County

Great Books of the Great PlainsTM

Ladbury Church Restoration Project

New Zealand & Australian Studies, WSSA

Historical Documentation of Bowesmont

In Search of Virginia Bill

Survey of Iron Cross Cemeteries in North Dakota

Beets & Bison

NEH Summer Seminar 2006

Family History

Tom's Home Page at NDSU

Jim is Professor of English at Emporia State University; Tom is Professor of History at North Dakota State University. We've been writing Plains FolkTM weekly since 1983.

Both Jim and Tom have active schedules presenting concerts, lectures, and workshops to public and academic groups.

Together Jim and Tom have published two books (Plains Folk and Plains Folk II) based on writings from the column, and individually we have published other books dealing with life on the plains. We're happy to offer these books (including inscribed copies) to the public via the Plains FolkTM bookstore, Commerce of the Prairies.

Tom reads Plains FolkTM features weekly on Prairie Public Radio. If you miss them on the air, then check out the archive of sound files on the Prairie Public Plains FolkTM page.

Jim promotes regional studies by serving as Director of ESU's Center for Great Plains Studies, which provides course offerings and public programming.

Tom offers web-based graduate courses on the Great Plains from NDSU: Coyote Culture, a reading seminar, and Grassroots History, a research seminar.

What Are the Great Plains?

In the preface to our book, Plains Folk, we said that we "decline to define the exact areal boundaries of the region about which we write." That's a discussion that never ends, and anyway, as we said, "more important to our thoughts than lines on a map are the essential characteristics of the region--the things that tell what the plains are, not just where they are. The greatest of Great Plains historians, Walter Prescott Webb, characterized the plains truly (if inexactly) as level, treeless, and semiarid. Typically, this characterization carries negative connotations: most thought about the plains begins with a catalog of what they lack, namely, mountains, trees, and rainfall. To restate these facts in a positive manner--to say that the plains have expansive vistas, lush grasslands, and blue skies--does not change them in substance." Although we define the plains mainly in physiographic terms, we recognize that they also may be defined in cultural terms, according to the patterns of life among regional residents. Those patterns, in fact, are our stock in trade, what we write about in Plains FolkTM. We also encourage people to think in north-south terms, to recognize the continental nature of a region that stretches from Alberta to Texas. Although we don't want to get hung up on boundaries, we do want people to know the general area we are talking about, and so for convenience and clarity we provide a map.
Life on the Plains

Video Annex (at YouTube)

Photo Annex (at Webshots)



MP3 Page

Fall Suppers of the Northern Plains

Great Plains Recipe Page

Great Plains Song Book

You Must Be from North Dakota

North Dakota Rant

Oases of the Great American Desert

Lindaas Barn Dance 2008

Fellow Travelers

Andy Wilkinson

Chuck Suchy

Ride Into History

Regional Studies
(academic centers)

Center for Great Plains Studies, Emporia State University

Center for Heritage Renewal, North Dakota State University

Germans from Russia Heritage Collection, NDSU

Center for Western Studies, Augustana College

Center for Great Plains Studies, University of Nebraska

Mari Sandoz High Plains Heritage Center, Chadron State University


Meanwhile, Back at the Ranch

Expedition Oklahoma (Joy Lyn)

Lone Prairie (Julie R. Neidlinger)

Prairie Journal (Lyndon Anderson)

Kansas Prairie (Peg Britton)

Flyover People (Cheryl Unruh)

Big Bluestem Blog

This is the field where grass joined hands,
Where no monument stands,
And the only heroic thing is the sky.--William Stafford