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Online Speaker Series

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All are welcome to join our annual Speaker Series,
presented virtually for the first time ever!

Join the Museum staff online as we shake the winter blues with an expanded series of intriguing presentations and Q & A sessions with groundbreaking authors and experts in history.

Registration is not required! Just follow the webinar links provided in the individual event listings on our Calendar (select "Calendar" from the list of tabs on the left, then select the event you wish to attend; links are at the bottom of each event description) a little before the program's start time--we are in the Eastern Time Zone--on the evening of the scheduled program to join and participate.

All programs are offered free of charge.

Thursday, November 12, 2020: Ric Mixter @ 6:00 PM
Searching For Le Griffon

Join Ric Mixter on an incredible nautical journey in search of the Griffon, a captivating unsolved Great Lakes mystery that’s puzzled researchers since 1679.

With dozens of appearances in two countries and three states last year, Ric Mixter is certainly one of the busiest maritime speakers, rumored to be the most requested historian on the Great Lakes. Visiting museums, libraries, NASA and his live music concert “STORM”, thousands of audience members get a new appreciation for our unique inland-sea history through his spellbinding lectures. Millions of television viewers recognize Ric Mixter as a shipwreck researcher, diving over 100 shipwrecks in the Great Lakes, including the Edmund Fitzgerald. He has produced over 30 programs for PBS and the Outdoor Channel, and appeared as a shipwreck expert on the History and Discovery Channels. He leads the pack when it comes to sharing our unique underwater resources with the general public, and thousands of dive show patrons and countless school kids know him as the energetic story teller who uses video like no other presenter can. Ric’s stories appear in books, magazines (including Michigan History Magazine) and in radio and TV news programs.  Mixter’s YouTube videos have over 3 million views, covering shipwrecks in four of the Great Lakes and adventures in several foreign lands.

Thursday, November 19, 2020: Alex Kershaw @ 6:00 PM
The Liberator: One World War II Soldier’s 500-Day Odyssey
from the Beaches of Sicily to the Gates of Dachau (2013, Netflix 2020)

Released on Netflix November 11, experience an incredible 500-day saga of the Second World War, told through the intimate experiences of one soldier. The Liberator traces the remarkable battlefield journey of maverick U.S. Army officer Felix Sparks through the Allied liberation of Europe—from the first landing in Italy to the final death throes of the Third Reich.

An honorary colonel in the 116th Infantry Regiment of the 29th Division, Alex Kershaw is the widely acclaimed and award-winning author of several New York Times best-selling books about WWII, including The Bedford Boys, The First Wave, The Longest Winter, The Few, Escape from the Deep, The Liberator, and Avenue of Spies. A graduate of University College, Oxford, he worked as a journalist for The Guardian and other newspapers before moving to the US in 1994. His next book - Against All Odds - will be published in October 2021. He lives in Savannah and regularly leads battlefield tours and lectures on WWII. He has an honorary doctorate in military history and is a director of the National WWII Memorial. His 2012 book, The Liberator, is currently showing on Netflix.

Thursday, December 3, 2020: Walter Borneman @ 7:00 PM
Brothers Down: Pearl Harbor and the Fate of the Many Brothers Aboard the USS Arizona (2019)

79 years ago, the surprise attack on Pearl Harbor changed the course of history, and countless families, forever. Hear the unforgettable story of sacrifice and heroism, all told through the lives of brothers and their fateful experiences on the USS Arizona.

Walther R. Borneman is the author of nine books about American military and political history, including the bestseller, The Admirals: Nimitz, Halsey, Leahy, and King, which won the Samuel Eliot Morison Award for Naval Literature (2012), and MacArthur at War, World War II in the Pacific, a finalist for the Gilder Lehrman Prize for Military History (2016). His commentary has appeared in the New York Times, Washington Post, Wall Street Journal and on FoxNews.com. Walt lives in Colorado where he is best known as the co-author of the definitive guide to the state’s 54 peaks above 14,000 feet. Brothers Down: Pearl Harbor and the Fate of the Many Brothers Aboard the USS Arizona, his story of the thirty-eight sets of brothers on the ship, has just been released in paperback in conjunction with the 79th anniversary of Pearl Harbor.

Thursday, December 17, 2020: Patricia Montemurri @ 7:00 PM
Immaculate Heart of Mary Sisters of Michigan (2020)

The IHM sisters are celebrating 175 years of faith and service, which helped shape an identity for countless people in Monroe County and beyond.

Patty M. headshot with books
Patricia Montemurri is the author of three books illustrating rich facets of Michigan’s Catholic history. A longtime award-winning Detroit-area journalist, she was a staff writer for the Detroit Free Press for 36 years. She covered a variety of subjects, including local and national politics, women’s issues and the local and worldwide Catholic Church. Her latest book, Immaculate Heart of Mary Sisters of Michigan, chronicles the 175-year impact of the Catholic sisters and pioneers who established the congregation in Monroe in 1845. Her book, "Detroit Gesu Catholic Church and School" has raised more than $11,000 for Detroit Gesu, one of four Catholic elementary schools still open in Detroit compared to 108 when I was growing up.  Her 2018 book, entitled "Blessed Solanus Casey," chronicles the life of the Detroit Capuchin Soup Kitchen co-founder who is one miracle away from being declared a saint. She has her own personal Catholic history.  She was taught by the IHM Sisters at Detroit’s St. Thomas Aquinas parish school. She was taught by the Adrian Dominicans at Detroit’s Rosary School. Her in-laws were church architects who designed churches such as Detroit’s Blessed Sacrament Cathedral. Other in-laws were the owners of Detroit Stained Glass Works, responsible for windows in many historic churches, including St. Mary Greektown, and Detroit St. Joseph and St. Josaphat churches.

Thursday, January 7, 2021: Craig Wilson @ 7:00 PM
Redcoats in Michigan

Mackinac State Historic Parks Chief Curator Craig Wilson explores the motivations and culture of the British army that served in Michigan during the War of 1812.

Craig Wilson is chief curator for Mackinac State Historic Parks, supervising museum operations at the agency’s six historic sites spread across three state parks. Originally from the Detroit area, he grew up in Saginaw before attending Michigan Technological University, from which he received an undergraduate degree in anthropology and a master’s degree in industrial archaeology. He started working for Mackinac State Historic Parks as a seasonal historical interpreter at Fort Mackinac, on Mackinac Island, during summer breaks from college, and later became a seasonal interpretive supervisor as well as a member of the parks’ education outreach team. After briefly serving as an historic site manager at Fort Abercrombie State Historic Site for the State Historical Society of North Dakota, Wilson returned to a permanent position with Mackinac State Historic Parks as museum historian. More recently, he served as curator of history prior to accepting his current responsibilities.

Thursday, January 21, 2021: Peter Cozzens @ 7:00 PM
Tecumseh and the Prophet (2020)

The first biography of the great Shawnee leader in more than twenty years, and the first to make clear that hsi misunderstood younger brother, Tenskwatawa, was an equal partner in the last great pan-Indian alliance against the United States.

Peter Cozzens Author Photo  Credit to Antonia Feldman
Peter Cozzens is the author or editor of sixteen acclaimed books on the American Civil War and the Indian Wars of the American West, and a member of the Advisory Council of the Lincoln Prize. In 2002 he was awarded the American Foreign Service Association's highest honor, the William R. Rivkin Award, given annually to one Foreign Service Officer for exemplary moral courage, integrity, and creative dissent. He lives in Kensington, Maryland.

Thursday, January 28, 2021: Joe Boggs @ 7:00 PM
Prohibition's Proving Grounds (2020)

Prohibition’s Proving Grounds examines the tumultuous dry years in this trans-border region through its thriving motorcar culture. In the 1910s local automobile factories churned out affordable vehicles that put many Toledo-Detroit-Windsor corridor residents on wheels for the first time, just as a wave of prohibitionist sentiment swept the area.

Boggs pic - Copy (2)

Joe Boggs is a lifelong Monroe County resident and longtime local history enthusiast. After graduating with his Bachelor's in History and Master's in Education from the University of Toledo in 2010, Joe was hired as a high school history teacher at Penta Career Center in Perrysburg, Ohio, where he still teaches. Simultaneously, Joe earned his Master's in History at Bowling Green State University, where his research focused on the enforcement of prohibition locally. He has written over a dozen local historical pieces for the Archdiocese of Detroit, the Michigan Historical Society, and the Northwest Ohio History Journal. His book “Prohibition's Proving Grounds” was recently published by The University of Toledo Press. He lives in Monroe with his wife and high school sweetheart Bridget and their dog Winnie. 

Thursday, February 4, 2021: James Carl Nelson @ 7:00 PM
The Polar Bear Expedition: The Heroes of America’s Forgotten Invasion of Russia, 1918-1919 (2019)

In the brutally cold winter of 1919, 5,000 Americans battled the Red Army 600 miles north of Moscow. The forgotten story of America’s invasion of Russia began in Michigan.


James Carl Nelson is the author of five books about the American experience in World War 1—The Remains of Company D:  A Story of the Great War; Five Lieutenants: The Heartbreaking Story of Five Harvard Men Who Led America to Victory in WW1; I Will Hold: The Story of USMC Legend Clifton B. Cates, from Belleau Wood to Victory in the Great War; The Polar Bear Expedition: The Heroes of America’s Forgotten Invasion of Russia, 1918-1919; and The York Patrol: The Real Story of Alvin York and the Unsung Heroes Who Made Him World War 1’s Most Famous Soldier. Nelson, who graduated from the University of Minnesota with a degree in journalism in 1983, spent 35 years working as a writer and reporter for various publications, including The Miami Herald, before becoming a full-time author. He lives in Minneapolis with his wife Janet Goodrich and their sons, Ethan and Nathaniel. 

Thursday, February 18, 2021: James Mueller @ 7:00 PM
Ambitious Honor: George Armstrong Custer’s Life of Service and Lust for Fame (2020)

Consider a radical new perspective on George A. Custer, that an artistic passion for creativity and recognition drove him to success — and, ultimately, to the failure that has overshadowed his notable achievements.

James Mueller
A Professor of Journalism at the University of North Texas, James E. Mueller previously worked as a reporter, editor and photographer forabout 10 years for newspapers in suburban St. Louis, Missouri, before entering academia. He is the author of Towel Snapping the Press: Bush's Journey from Locker-Room Antics to Message Control and Tag Teaming the Press: How Bill and Hillary Clinton Work Together to Handle the Press. His book Shooting Arrows and Slinging Mud: Custer, the Press, and the Little Bighorn was named a finalist in 2014 for best nonfiction book by the High Plains Bookfest in Billings, Montana, and by the Western Writers of America. Mueller received the Award of Excellence at the 2008 Symposium on the 19th Century Press, the Civil War, and Free Expression for his paper on the 1876 presidential election.

Thursday, March 4, 2021: DeAnne Blanton @ 7:00 PM
They Fought Like Demons: Women Soldiers in the Civil War (2003)

Explore an unusual and overlooked facet of the Civil War, through the experience of the women like Sarah Emma Edmons, who disguised themselves in men’s uniforms and did battle as Union and Confederate soldiers — facing down not only the guns of the adversary, but also the gender prejudices of society.

DeAnne Blanton pic
DeAnne Blanton retired from the National Archives and Records Administration in Washington, DC after 31 years of service as an archivist specializing in 19th century Army records.  Her first book, They Fought Like Demons:  Women Soldiers in the American Civil War, co-written with Lauren Cook, was published by Louisiana State University in 2002 and by Vintage the following year.  She is a founding member of the Society for Women and the Civil War, and served as the first President of the organization.  She has appeared in nearly a dozen Civil War and women’s history documentaries for cable channels and public broadcasting.  She is a graduate of Sweet Briar College, and now makes her home in the Shenandoah Valley.

Wednesday, March 10, 2021: Theodore J. Karamanski @ 7:00 PM
Blackbird’s Song: Andrew J. Blackbird and the Odawa People (2012)

Learn the intriguing and intimate story of how Andrew J. Blackbird sought to give a voice to his people through his landmark book History of the Ottawa and Chippewa People in 1887.


Theodore J. Karamanski, PhD is Professor of History and Director of the Public History Program at Loyola University Chicago. He has served as a heritage consultant to the National Park Service in Alaska and across the Midwest region as well as for National Geographic, The History Channel, BBC, and the Travel Channel. His public history work has focused on Great Lakes region cultural resource management, environmental history and American Indian rights. He has written histories of Isle Royale National Park, Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore, and Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore. He is author of ten books including Fur Trade and Exploration (1983), Deep Woods Frontier; A History of Logging in Northern Michigan (1990), Ethics and Public History (1991), Schooner Passage: Sailing Ships and the Lake Michigan Frontier (2000), Maritime Chicago (2001) Blackbird’s Song: Andrew J. Blackbird and Odawa Survival (2012), and Civil War Chicago (2014). His most recent book is Mastering the Inland Seas: How Lighthouses, Navigational Aids, and Harbors Transformed the Great Lakes and America (2020). He is a founding board member of the Chicago Maritime Museum.