Talks we give

The humanities is where the past meets the present.

Since 2004 Diane and I have been honored to give talks and programs for the humanities councils of both Kansas and Missouri. Nonprofit groups in those states can book us for little or no money. The humanities council provides the honorarium that helps with our travel expenses.

At the bottom of this page is a full calendar listing our upcoming talks, plus a contact form which goes right to my mailbox.

Here are the full descriptions.

Women in the Civil War. For women, America’s greatest conflict was also their greatest opportunity since the founding of the republic. Already taking control of their rights with the Seneca Falls revolution, women did a myriad of jobs in the Civil War that they hadn’t been allowed to before — nursing, clerking, running large volunteer organizations, organizing petition drives, and for a daring few, serving secretly in the military. This program is available in both Missouri and Kansas.

Jesse James, Jo Shelby, and Missouri’s War After the War. The Civil War may have ended in Northern victory, but in a state as torn as Missouri, that didn’t mean much. In the chaos of the postwar period, a young guerrilla made himself into a self-styled avenger of the South, while a leading Confederate general had to come to grips with serving the losing side. Two stories that are more relevant than ever today. This program is available in Missouri.

Care for the Creation. As natural resources face unprecedented challenges, people of faith are leading efforts to advocate for what they call “creation care.” Faith communities are looking for common ground to respond to what they agree is a threat to the world that they believe God entrusted to them as stewards. The program will present a diverse range of stories about creation care in Kansas and discuss the role of religious people in civic life.  This program is available in Kansas.

Vegetopia 1856. In the spring of 1856 a band of pilgrims set out for Kansas Territory to establish “heaven on earth.” Even more controversial than their abolitionist stance was their new way of eating — a meatless “vegetable diet” promoted by their eccentric young leader, Henry Clubb. But Clubb’s vision of a thriving colony, laid out in his efficient octagon design, never came to be. This program about the uniquely American tradition of utopian thinking will spur lively discussion on the practicality of chasing dreams. This program is available in Kansas.

A Line in the Dirt: Why Missouri-Kansas Is America’s Most Consequential Border. Every state has its own history, but what sets Missouri’s history apart is how frequently it became a borderland between competing powers. Time and time again, the fate of the entire nation turned on key events in Missouri, especially in the years preceding the Civil War. In this fast-paced tour, the author of a popular guide to historic sites in the Missouri-Kansas border region discusses 10 “hinges of history” as well as the outstanding public sites where Missourians can discover these events for themselves. This program is available in Missouri.

Virginia Minor and Her Major Role in Women’s Rights. A resident of St. Louis, Virginia Minor (1824–94) cofounded Missouri’s first organization dedicated to woman suffrage, the Woman Suffrage Association of Missouri. In 1872 she marched to the polls and demanded the right to vote, but the registrar turned her away. Undaunted, Minor and her lawyer husband sued. They argued that the recently passed Fourteenth Amendment had actually granted women the right to vote. Her case went all the way to the US Supreme Court, and though it failed to persuade the justices, Minor continued to fight for women’s rights until the end of her life. In 2013 she was inducted into the Missouri Hall of Fame in Jefferson City. Learn her inspiring story and hear dramatic excerpts from the trial. This program is available in Missouri.

Author-Publisher Course. This two-part, six-hour intensive, offered exclusively through the Story Center, will walk you through everything you need to know to become an author-publisher. I’ll help you navigate the steps to getting your manuscript ready on the CreateSpace platform, and how to use free library tools to publish and promote your work. And we’ll tackle that subject most authors fear the most — selling! Best of all, it’s all free thanks to Mid-Continent Public Library. Visit The Story Center to learn more about their Certification programs for creative storytellers.

Outside the area?

We often speak to groups throughout the Midwest that cover our expenses. We’re happy to tailor our talks to the needs of your group. For instance, here’s a talk we gave at the Chicago Civil War Roundtable.

Our upcoming talks

Contact me