• The 2023 Arizona Lecture Series Speaker Line-Up



    January 9,2023- Ken Sorenson Presents John F. Kennedy 

    “As is true with all of us, our stories did not begin with our birth. They began with our parents, our grandparents, and our ancestry”. Come and find out about the personal side of the life of John F. Kennedy and his family. What were his father’s influences?  How did the “unknown” daughter affect the family and the public?  What about the “lost legacy” of the oldest Kennedy son?  What effect has the frozen-in-time concept had on what we think of John F. Kennedy?  How has the image of Camelot stuck in the minds of America? We’ll explore all of this and more in an extensive look at this beloved leader in American history. Come and hear the story of John Kennedy and who he was and what he became.

    January 16, 2023- Bill Harrison Presents John Dillinger Public Enemy #1

    John Dillinger was called America's first celebrity criminal. In the 1930’s he generated more newspaper headlines than any other gangster in the 20th century. John and his gang became legendary for their exciting bank robberies, daring escapes, Tommy guns and powerful automobiles. During the Great Depression, people didn't view Dillinger as an outlaw, but as an avenger who punished banks for all the wrongs they had done to the country. After robbing 24 financial institutions, Dillinger decided he needed a safe place to hide and rest and ultimately ended up in Tucson, AZ. It was one of the few major mistakes Dillinger made in his short criminal career. In 1934, Tucson was a bustling town of more than 34,000 residents. A large, competent, police force was the pride of the community. From the moment the Dillinger gang drove into "The Old Pueblo" in their expensive cars, they became targets of curiosity. Good police work, calm determination, and unbridled courage helped the Tucson police accomplish what thousands of law enforcement professionals had failed to do - capture John Dillinger.

    January 23,2023- Wild Man Phil Rakoci Presents Desert Dwellers

    “Desert Dwellers”: As he regales the calamities of growing up in rural Arizona, comedian Philip "Wildman Phil" Rakoci shares interesting facts and exciting stories about some of the creatures and situations that are so often associated with Arizona's wild outdoors. From hilarious tales about a brother who has experienced various creature attacks to the amazing types of live animals that suddenly appear on stage, this stand-up style show will have you wanting to explore Wild Arizona.

    January 30, 2023- Pete Grady Presents Unconditional Surrender: A Visit with Ulysses S. Grant

    Ulysses S. Grant comes to life in this informative, humorous, and touching portrayal.  Meet the victorious General whose strategy and tenacity won the Civil War, the President who struggled to rebuild his country after the war, and the husband and father whose final efforts were devoted to the financial support of his wife and family.

    February 6, 2023- Jim Hinkley Presents: Route 66 In Arizona: Crossroads of The Past & Future

    Route 66 is no mere highway. It is the stuff of dreams. For nearly a century, this iconic highway has been a portal to the scenic and historic wonders of northern Arizona.  But there is more. In Arizona, the most famous highway in America is a bridge between the past, present, and even the future.  The first highway bridge authorized by the newly minted state of Arizona spans Chevelon Canyon between Winslow and Holbrook. Traffic flowing along the National Old Trails Road, predecessor to Route 66, used the bridge for a dozen years. Edsel Ford, son of Henry Ford, and more than 20,000 travelers crossed that bridge in 1915.  In Kingman, Arizona, the Powerhouse Visitor Center, built in 1907, houses the world's only electric vehicle museum. Across the street is Mr. D'z Route 66 Diner, which opened in 1939 as the Kimo Cafe. And next door is the-one-family owned Dunton Motors dealership that opened in 1940. And nearby in the Black Mountains along the pre-1952 alignment of Route 66 is Little Meadows, a desert oasis. It was a stop for travelers on a Native American trade route, and for the Garces expedition in 1776. American explorers, including Lt. Beale with his camel caravan in the 1850s camped at the site. And so did miners during the gold rush in the early 20th century, and travelers on the National Old Trails Road and Route 66.

    February 13, 2023- Bill Harrison Presents: Tombstone, Arizona's Future Great City  

    "The Town Too Tough to Die" is what we call Tombstone today. However, in 1881 The Tombstone Epitaph enthusiastically predicted the town would be "Arizona's Future Great City." The prosperous, cosmopolitan community boasted 3,400 residents, a delightful climate, dozens of producing silver mines, a thriving business district, elegant hotels, first-class restaurants, seven churches, grand theaters, rowdy saloons, numerous social, athletic and fraternal organizations and many wholesome activities for the whole family. The majority of residents in Tombstone were decent, hard-working folks who paid little attention to the thugs and ruffians who were part of the seedier side of the community. Most of the citizenry who read about the street fight near the OK Corral reacted with indifference or felt like it was good riddance to a bunch of undesirable citizens. This is the true story of Tombstone's birth, its growth, its near death and its eventual resurrection as one of the most famous boomtowns in Arizona history.

    February 20, 2023- Jim Turner Presents: The Mighty Colorado River

    Based on historian Jim Turner’s award-winning book, The Mighty Colorado River: from the Glaciers to the Gulf, this presentation traces the Green and Colorado rivers from their origins as bubbling glacial springs to roaring torrents through deep canyons in Utah, Arizona, and Nevada, and finally to the salt flats in Mexico. The emphasis will be on the Utah/Arizona sections and the stunning photographs of more than a dozen leading landscape photographers tell the story of the rivers’ two thousand miles of scenic wonders, wildlife, history, and recreation. 

    February 27, 2023- Laura Tohe Presents: “From “Chief” to Code Talker: Four Profiles of the Navajo Code Talkers”  

    During WWII, a group of young Navajo men enlisted in the Marines without knowing that they would be called on to develop a secret code against the Japanese military. This select group of Code Talkers devised a Navajo language code that was accurate, quick, never broken, and saved many American lives. This talk profiles four Code Talkers who reflect on their lives growing up in the Navajo Nation homeland before and after the war, including my father. They returned home without fanfare to continued poverty and lack of economic opportunity, yet persevered and overcame obstacles that helped change the Navajo Nation and their communities. They tell their stories which reflects their resiliency and self-determination.

    March 6, 2023- Win Holden Presents: The History of Arizona Highways Magazine

    Arizona Highways magazine is approaching its 100th birthday. As mainstream national magazines continue to fail in the digital age, how has a publication that began as a brochure in the early 1920’s continued to succeed for over nine decades? In this presentation, former Publisher Win Holden will share the compelling back story of this world-renowned magazine and how it has not only survived but thrived using an unconventional business model incorporating licensing, retail, ancillary products and featuring world-class landscape photographers. While owned by the State of Arizona and remaining part of the Arizona Department of Transportation, the magazine receives no state funding support. It’s a compelling and unorthodox story of a magazine that delivers over $65 million in annual economic impact to the state by enchanting subscribers every month in all 50 states and 100 countries.

    March 13, 2023- Bill Harrison Presents: “The Harvey Girls”

    “The Harvey Girls” Civilizing the Great Southwest. One Delicious Meal at a Time When Fred Harvey created a wonderful new type of waitress called The Harvey Girls, the Great Southwest was changed forever. Fred Harvey restaurants were springing up all along the Santa Fe Railroad in the 1880s. In a stroke of genius, Fred decided to hire attractive young women between the ages of 18 and 30 with good moral character, honesty, and integrity to work in his restaurants. These young women worked hard but were also well paid and enjoyed unprecedented independence. More than 100,000 young women became Harvey Girls. This entertaining program is filled with fascinating information about The Harvey Girls, their jobs, lives, and loves. As a bonus, there's a delightful discussion of the 1946 movie "The Harvey Girls" staring Judy Garland and Angela Lansbury.

    March 20, 2023- Christine Reid Presents: They Beat the Heat: How Arizonans Survived the Desert Heat

    Drawing from multi-cultural influences of the variety of people who helped build Arizona, we discover how creative adaptations in lifestyle, architecture, building materials, town planning and even humor all contributed to surviving intense desert temperatures. What have we forgotten and what can we learn from the wisdom of those who came before as climate becomes a vital and daily issue in life today? Using newspaper clippings, anecdotes, and photographs, the story is told about how Arizonans adjusted to life in the desert before the arrival of air conditioners.

    Mar 27, 2023- Bill Harrison Presents: Hopalong Cassidy

    The world knew him as the good-guy cowboy who never smoked, drank liquor, lied, or cursed and always fought for what was right. This is the remarkable story of an actor named Bill Boyd who risked everything to transform a fictitious Western hero into flesh and blood. A silent screen star, Bill Boyd appeared in several movies in the 20’s. Unfortunately, by 1935 he was considered a has-been. Then he was offered a role in a B-Western playing Hopalong Cassidy, a rawhide-rough, bad-tempered, and illiterate cowboy. Bill immediately altered his unsavory character to one with the manners of a gentleman, one who spoke properly, never raised his voice in anger and had an infectious belly-laugh. Bill Boyd starred in 66 movies as "Hoppy" and then, in a stroke of genius, acquired ownership of the character. Thanks to television, Hopalong Cassidy was the most famous cowboy in the world in 1950. What makes this story unique, is how Bill Boyd became Hopalong Cassidy, not just an actor playing a role.