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City of Surprise News

Posted on: November 4, 2019

Arizona History & Culture Speaker Series returns with new speakers, topics

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Experience stories of Arizona history and culture through a speaker series presented by the Surprise Arts and Cultural Advisory Commission in partnership with Arizona Humanities.

Local experts from Arizona Humanities’ AZ Speaks program will present on the following topics: 

November 12, 11 a.m. - noon
On the Road Since 1925: The Colorful History of Arizona Highways Magazine
(Speaker: Win Holden)

In this presentation, former Arizona Highways Magazine publisher Win Holden will share the fascinating story of how a brochure produced by the Arizona Highway Department evolved into one of the most respected and revered publications in the world. With an annual economic impact of over $65 million, Arizona Highways reaches all 50 states and over 100 countries around the world. Learn how this remarkable magazine has beaten the odds and is thriving in a competitive environment.

January 8, 11 a.m. – noon
The Women Airforce Service Pilots (WASP) of WWII
(Speaker: Natalie J. Stewart-Smith)

During World War II over one thousand women served as Women Airforce Service Pilots (WASP), freeing male pilots for combat roles at a critical time during the war. The WASP ferried planes from factories to embarkation points, performed engineer test flying of repaired aircraft and did target towing for gunnery training. This presentation shares their stories as fliers, patriots, and women who had to fight for the right to be called veterans.  

February 25, 11 a.m. – noon
Chiles & Chocolate: Sweet and Spicy Foods in the American West 
(Speaker: Chris Glenn and Sandy Sunseri)

Come taste the rich and savory history of chiles and chocolate and explore how early peoples used them and how they have evolved and spread to all corners of the world. Food is a portal into culture and can convey a range of cultural meaning including occasion, social status and wealth. Discover how chiles and chocolate became identity markers in gender roles and relationships, essential in rituals and religious customs, popular in aesthetic fashions and lifestyles, and how they changed through time and space.  

April 14, 11 a.m. - noon
Lives of Arizonans from Memoirs and Fiction
(Speaker: Jim Turner)

Learn about the lives of Arizona pioneers as told through their stories, diaries, letters and memoirs. The session will explore Martha Summerhayes’ beloved Vanished Arizona and Captain John Bourke’s On the Border with Crook, plus biographies of Hopi, Pima, and Tohono O’odham women. Fictional works including Willa Cather’s Death Comes for the Archbishop, Zane Gray’s Riders of the Purple Sage, and the works of contemporary authors like Marguerite Noble and Nancy Turner will also be discussed.

June 3, 11 a.m. - noon
Arizona: A History of Snake Oil Salesmen, Scams and Hoaxes
(Speaker: H. Christine Reid)

Benefitting from tales of abundant resources in the territory, limited law enforcement and communication, scoundrels and schemers could create enticing promises of riches, products and get-rich-quick schemes without much oversight. Using newspaper articles, quotes and photographs, this program illustrates some of the most famous and lesser-known embarrassing scams and hoaxes that have found gullible Arizonans.

All presentations will be held in the Surprise City Hall – Council Chambers, 16000 North Civic Center Plaza. The events are free and no reservations are required. 

For more information, please contact Surprise Arts and Cultural Commissioner Kathie Morgan at 623.594.3963.

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