Wednesday, February 1st, 2023-Matthew Downs

“The Tennessee Valley Authority and Regional Development in North Alabama, 1933-1960”

When we think of the Tennessee Valley Authority, we think of towering hydroelectric dams, churning out electricity and reshaping the flow of the Tennessee River to create placid lakes perfect for boating and fishing. But the TVA was much more – it was the government’s answer to economic collapse and a lifeline to a depressed and destitute region. This presentation will trace TVA’s work in the Valley during the Great Depression, showing how the project reshaped and revitalized the economy and, in the process, forced southerners to rethink their attitudes about the federal government.

Matthew L. Downs is Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences and an Associate Professor of History at the University of Mobile. He received his Ph.D. in History from the University of Alabama in 2010. He is the author of “Transforming the South: Federal Development in the Tennessee Valley, 1915-1960” (2014) and the Co-Editor of “The American South and the Great War, 1914-1924” (2018), as well as numerous articles and reviews. He also serves as the editor of The Alabama Review, the quarterly, peer-reviewed publication of the Alabama Historical Association. He lives in Daphne with his wife and two children.

Wednesday, February 8th, 2023 – Kathryn Braund

A Very Delightful Territory: William Bartram’s Tour of the Creek Country”

Eighteenth century naturalist and artist, William Bartram, will come to life during an illustrated lecture by Dr. Kathryn Braund. The presentation will focus on Bartram’s 1775 journey through the territory that later became the state of Alabama. Dr. Braund will relate the experiences of Bartram who was America’s first native born naturalist/artist/botanist and the first author to portray history through experience as well as scientific observation. Particularly interesting will be the information the Native Americans encountered on Bartram’s journey through the Creek town of Tallassee on the Tallapoosa River and his trek West and then South on to Mobile.

Dr. Kathryn H. Braund—Hollifield Professor of Southern History Emerita, Auburn University—has a B.S. Degree from Auburn University and a Ph. D. Degree from Florida State University. Dr. Braund’s research and writing have focused on 18th and 19th century history of the Creek and Seminole Indians. Books she has authored, co-authored, or edited include: “Deerskins and Duffels: The Creek Indian Trade with Anglo-America, 1685-1815”; “William Bartram on the Southeastern Indians; an annotated edition of James Adair’s History of the American Indians”; “Tohopeka: Rethinking the Creek War and the War of 1812”; and most recently, “The Attention of a Traveller: Essays on William Bartram’s Travels and Legacy”.

Wednesday, February 15, 2023 – Elnora Spencer

“Best of the Jazzy Blues and More”

Award-winning singer, Elnora Spencer will brighten your cold winter day, accompanied by outstanding musicians on keyboard, bass and drums. Elnora’s style— the ‘jazzy blues’—include will include gospel, jazz, and R&B, with a repertoire of songs featuring favorite oldies. Elnora has been singing since the age of four. Her musically talented family included her mother—a gospel singer during the ‘50s, a musical grandfather, and an aunt who performed on the ‘Morning Show’ out of Birmingham.

In 2014, Elnora was inducted as a Master Blues Artist in the Alabama Blues Hall of Fame. She has been featured in the Living Legends Performing Live Series at Moonlight on the Mountain in Bluff Park, has sung with the Alabama Symphony Orchestra, and most recently, she was presented the 2018 Women’s Lifetime Music Achievement Award from the Birmingham’s Women’s Music Showcase! Elnora and her talented musicians will present an hour of beautiful music and memorable songs.

Wednesday, February 22, 2023 – Billy Singleton

“Alabama’s First Ladies of Flight: Two Alabama Women Achieve World Acclaim During the Golden Age of Aviation”

The development of the airplane has been described as the single greatest cultural force since the invention of writing. During the first half of the twentieth century, the airplane would transform the world, evolving from a brief twelve-second flight at Kitty Hawk, North Carolina, the first powered, controlled and sustained flight of a heavier-than-air machine into a mass transportation system capable of moving passengers and cargo across great distances in a matter of hours. During the Golden Age of Aviation two Alabama women were inspired to pursue their own lofty dreams of flight and achieve world acclaim for their daring exploits and achievements. Katherine Stinson of Fort Payne and Ruth Elder of Gadsden would overcome rigid social convictions and prejudice to establish their equality as aviators and earn their rightful place in aviation history.

Billy Singleton has been involved in the aviation industry for more than four decades. A native of Alabama, he earned a bachelor’s degree from Troy University and a Master of Aeronautical Science degree from Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University. Singleton has served as chair of the board of directors of the Alabama Aviation Hall of Fame and the Southern Museum of Flight. He is the author of five books and has published more than 700 articles relating to Alabama and aviation history for local and national publications. A resident of Clanton in Chilton County, he serves as a member of the Clanton City Council, the City of Clanton Arts Council and the Chilton County Airport Authority.

Wednesday, March 1st, 2023

“Story Souvenirs”

The 2023 Winter Brown Bag series has featured several stories of intrepid travelers. To close out the series, storyteller Dolores Hydock tells three stories that are souvenirs from three trips of her own. Join Dolores as she carefully crosses the cobblestone streets of Eastern Europe, navigates the bustling sidewalks of Paris, and joins a friend wandering down memory lane.

Dolores Hydock is an actress and storyteller whose one-woman shows and stories have been featured at conferences, concerts, and special events throughout the United States. She was a Featured Teller for the 6th time at the 50th Anniversary of the National Storytelling Festival in Jonesborough, Tennessee. Over the years, Dolores has shared her talent in generous and creative ways collaborating with the Birmingham Museum of Art to blend stories with special exhibits, sharing her Christmas story special, and performing with Bobby Horton during the holiday season on NPR-affiliate WBHM in Birmingham. Originally from Reading, Pennsylvania, home of the Reading Railroad and Luden’s Cough Drops, Dolores now lives in Irondale, just four blocks from the Whistle Stop Cafe. If the wind is just right, she can stand on her front porch and smell the aroma of fried green tomatoes.