Jim Duran is a Digital Archivist at Boise State University Library, Special Collections and Archives, where for the past 10 years he has built digital collections of historical significance to Boise State University, the City of Boise and Southwest Idaho. He earned a Master of Arts in History from Boise State University, his thesis is titled “Building the Modern World: Morrison-Knudsen Construction Company.” He also has a Masters Science in Library Science and a Bachelor’s of Science in Mathematics. Duran is also a public historian, with a published history of Boise’s Central Bench Neighborhood.
From its start as a junior college for young men and women of Boise, to its inclusion in the list of Carnegie Foundation Community Engaged Institutions, Boise State University has always been a center for education and cultural enrichment for the Boise community and beyond. Using artifacts from the University Archive, this multi-media look back at the history of the school includes a glimpse at student life through the decades, notable faculty and departments, and an architectural overview of campus.
Freeways, Highways, sewer systems, Ann Morrison Park, U.S. Bank Building, Boise’s Train Depot, Park Center Boulevard, M-K Nature Center, Morrison Center, Lucky Peak Dam, Anderson Ranch Dam, locomotive yards, Morrison Knudsen’s legacy stretches across the Treasure Valley in a series of contracts, donations, and developments. Explore a history of Boise and the Treasure Valley in a completely new way – through the lens of Boise’s former civil engineering and construction mega-company.
Morrison Knudsen (MK) employees called themselves “Ambassadors with Bulldozers” when they went worldwide spreading the “gospel of construction know-how.” During the Cold War the United States sent aid for development to countries that held vital importance in the fight against the spread of communism. MK of Boise, was a leading company for agencies like USAID and the Department of Defense to rebuild or improve the infrastructure in countries like Afghanistan, Iran, Viet Nam, elsewhere in North Africa and South America. This presentation analyzes this effort and reflects on its significance, both as an instrument of the Cold War and beyond.
While today’s Boise Bench neighborhoods blend in to the tapestry of the city, this high desert plateau holds a fascinating history that parallels and compliments the well-known Boise history narrative. This presentation starts with the settlement of the farming town of Franklin, the transition into a Mid-Century suburb, full of strip malls and drive thru restaurants, and ends with a reflection on what the community looks like now. Jim Duran conducted oral histories and published a book on the history of the Central Bench, funded by the City of Boise Neighborhood Reinvestment Grants program.