Wednesday, January 14, 2015—Buddy Simpkins and Friends “Best of Jazz and More” 

Buddy, who will play the drums, will be joined by bassist, Jeff Drew, and Bo Berry—the talented trumpeter from Birmingham who played with “Jam Sessions on the Avenue” from 1947 to 1963. Berry’s track record includes playing with Wynton Marsalis, Count Basie, the Four Tops, Barbara Mandrell, the Temptations, Lionel Richie and the Commodores, In 1993, Berry was elected to the Alabama Jazz Hall of Fame. Also joining the group will be pianist, Kermit Orr, who had a long musical career playing with the Fort Benning band for heads of state and performing with such greats as Miles Davis and Dinah Washington. Gifted vocalist, Elnora Spencer, will put the crowning touch on this memorable performance.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015—Jeffrey C. Benton Life in Antebellum Montgomery—1818-1860” 

If published accounts are to be believed, antebellum Montgomery, Alabama was not moonlight and magnolias, and it was not the Bible Belt.   Antebellum Montgomery was a lot more interesting—even a little like the Wild West. Travel on the Federal Road was an ordeal, and travel by steamboat was dangerous. Terrible food and shared accommodations had to be endured. Most found the center of town crude, but some were positively impressed by the houses of the local elite that were set in gardens up the ridges from the center of town. Besides talking, eating, drinking, and gambling for entertainment, there was an array of commercial entertainments—horse racing, theater, opera, even lectures and art exhibits—that offered a degree of sophistication. 

Jeff Benton, a retired Air Force colonel, holds masters degrees in English, political science, and history. He has taught history, English, political science, and national defense policy from the high school to graduate school level. His research interests are currently focused on local history. He has written extensively on Montgomery, including more than 250 newspaper articles in The Montgomery Advertiser and The Montgomery Independent. He has also written five books on local history. Today he will use information from Respectable and Disreputable and from Through Others’ Eyes in his talk about antebellum Montgomery.

Wednesday, January 28, 2015—Steven P. Brown “Landmark Federal Court Rulings on Religion in the Public Schools” 

Steven P. Brown will briefly review the legal history of the law regarding religious expression in American schools. He will then talk about the guidelines for recognizing religion in the public schools that were distributed by the Clinton Administration three times to the nation’s 15,000 school districts between 1995 and 1999.  Based upon the Equal Access Act and several notable Supreme Court decisions rendered over the past two decades, these guidelines— drafted by nearly forty groups from across the political spectrum, ranging from the ACLU to the Christian Legal Society—emerged as a remarkable listing of permissible activities that many people continue to erroneously believe are prohibited by law.  Research indicates that many school administrators are still unaware of the many legal ways in which students can express themselves religiously in the public schools. 

Steven P. Brown, an associate professor of political science at Auburn University, received his PhD from the University of Virginia. He is the author of The New Christian Right, the Free Speech Clause, which received the National Communication Association’s Franklyn S. Haiman Award for Distinguished Scholarship in Freedom of Expression. He lectures throughout the state on political and First Amendment issues.

Wednesday, February 4, 2015—Sarah Bliss Wright “The Impact of the Feedsack: Alabama Cotton and Bemis Bags Pieced into History” 

Prior to the 20th century, barrels and other unwieldy containers were used to transport and store milled grains, but the invention of the sewing machine in the 19th century paved the way for the transition from wooden and tin packaging for flour and feed to cotton bags with seams strong enough to make them viable replacements. The first sacks were made of coarse cotton stamped with a product label on the front, but by 1910, flour and sugar were packaged in lighter fabrics of a tighter weave. In the late 1920’s, companies changed to beautiful solid colors and print bags to increase their sales. Re-use of cotton bags —a result of frugality and practicality of rural American women—ran the gamut from clothing, quilts, draperies, towels, dolls, and stuffed animals as well as flat-seamed, appliquéd and e mbroidered sheets, bedspreads and pillowcases for their homes.    

Alabama native, Sarah Bliss Wright, spent thirty years in the performing arts before she turned her talents to textile art. Her program is very much about the history of Talladega County, and the role that cotton played in Alabama history.  The quilts, crafts, and clothing are tangible, beautiful reminders of the textile industry and the role that cotton bags played in the lives and livelihood of a whole generation of people in the first half of the 20th century.   Wright, an Alabama Humanities Foundation Road Scholar, is curator for “Our Quilted Past” an exhibit of Alabama feedsack quilts; her research on the subject is published in Uncoverings 2013. She lives in Mobile.

Wednesday, February 11, 2015-Chris Haveman “The Experience of Creek Indian Removal”

Between the years 1827 and 1838, almost twenty-three thousand Creek Indians were removed from the borders of Alabama and Georgia to present-day Oklahoma. Along with the anguish of leaving the land of their ancestors, the Creeks endured incredible hardships along the way—from extreme heat to frostbite, from torrential rain to drought-like conditions. Accidents and death were common during the long marches.   They spent the last leg of the journey walking through a 4-8 inch snow storm in their bare feet and summer clothing. Despite these struggles, the Creeks survived as a people. Haveman will discuss the Creek removal experience, as well as the difficulties faced by the Creeks who remained in Alabama during the removal era.

Christopher Haveman—a native of Bellingham, Washington— holds degrees from Western Washington University, Marquette University, and a PhD from Auburn University with a specialty in the history of Southeastern tribes. He is assistant professor of history at the University of West Alabama, and his book on Creek Indian removal will be published by the University of Nebraska Press in 2015.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015—John Ellisor “The Second Creek War—Conflict on a Collapsing Frontier”

 Historians have traditionally viewed the “Creek War of 1836” as a minor police action centered on rounding up the Creek Indians for removal to Indian Territory. John T. Ellisor will demonstrate that, in fact, the Second Creek War was neither brief nor small. When the 1830s cotton boom placed a premium on Creek land, dispossession of the Natives became an economic priority. Uprooted and impoverished, some Creeks rose in armed revolt both to resist removal west and to drive the oppressors from their ancient homeland. The Second Creek War was fueled not only by Native determination but also by economic competition and was intensified by the government-sponsored land grab that constituted Indian removal. Armed conflict continued long after the majority of Creeks had been sent west.

John Ellisor received his PhD from the University of Tennessee and is a faculty member at Columbus State University. He teaches a number of courses related to the colonial and early republic periods in U. S. history and his research focuses on Native American history as well as ethnic relationships in the Old South. Ellisor suggests that the history of Indian removal in its entirety, of which the Creek war was a part, has been neglected by historians in comparison to other events of the nineteenth century. His research is showcased in his book, The Second Creek War: Inter-Ethnic Conflict and Collusion on a Collapsing Frontier.
Carolina, and received his M.A. and Ph.D. in history from the University of Chicago. He retired as director of the ADAH and is presently writing a book on the history of Alabama.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015—Dan J. Puckett “Alabama’s Jewish Servicemen in World War II” 

During the Second World War, American Jews from small towns like Sylacauga and large towns like Mobile proudly served in the armed forces in numbers proportional to their population, including in the infantry and other hazardous fields that regularly placed them in harm’s way. Many in Alabama’s Jewish communities had lost contact with relatives and friends in Europe but the press coverage of the mass murder of European Jews left no doubt as to the fate of those back home. American Jews felt that they had a personal stake in the war since Nazism posed a threat to Jews worldwide—and that included those in theUnited States. One young soldier from Mobile said, “I just hoped we were going to defeat Hitler before he got over here and got some of us.”   Many Jewish soldiers were exposed to the Holocaust, if only in a secondhand fashion, but others from towns throughout Alabama helped to liberate work camps and witness the barbaric conditions in which the victims had been forced to live and die. Members of Alabama’s Jewish population gained a profound sense of purpose and found themselves ever-changed as a result of their World War II service.

Dan J. Puckett is an associate professor of history at Troy University. He received his PhD at Mississippi State University and is the author of In the Shadow of Hitler: Alabama’s Jews, the Second World War, and the Holocaust. Puckett is a Chancellor’s Fellow at Troy University, a member of the Alabama Holocaust Commission, and serves on the Board of Directors for the Alabama Historical Association and the Board of Trustees for the Southern Jewish Historical Society.

Wednesday, Marcy 4, 2015-Dolores Hydock “Money Still Talks-But It Used to Say a Lot More”

Storyteller, Dolores Hydock, will share stories about first jobs, found fortunes, shopping sprees and loose change. She will ‘turn back time’ to an era of low wages and even lower prices. For those who lived through those times, her stories will be nostalgic and for those who don’t remember when the price of dry goods and groceries were often measured in cents rather than dollars, the stories will be hard to believe. Regardless of the subject, the stories told by Dolores always create bright bubbles of memory for the listener.      

Hydock, originally from Pennsylvania, is an actress and story performer whose work has been featured in a variety of concerts, festivals, and special events throughout the United States. She is a touring artist for the Alabama State Council on the Arts, a speaker with the Alabama Humanities Foundation, and a member of the Southern Order of Storytellers. Dolores lives in Birmingham, Alabama and in her spare time, teaches Cajun and zydeco dancing. She is a great favorite with the brown bag lecture audience and her entertaining and thought-provoking stories always leave them wanting more of the same!