The Western History Symposium features interesting and informative talks by historians, educators, and authors on a variety of subjects relevant to our western heritage. The event will be held at the Prescott Centennial Center on November 6, 2021.
Typically, the Symposium includes a dinner lecture in connection with the Prescott Corral of Westerners (dinner available at extra cost), plus the presentation highlight of the Sharlot Hall Award to an Arizona woman who has distinguished herself in support of Arizona history.
The 2020 Sharlot Hall Award Honoree is Joan Meacham, founder of the Arizona Women’s Heritage Trail. Joan will be honored for her work on the AWHT and receive the award virtually at the Symposium prior to the evening session at 7 p.m.
This year’s Symposium presentations include:
Sally Jacobs: Arizona’s First Female Sports Columnist
9:30 AM | Heidi Osselaer, Ph.D.
Sally was a sports columnist for the Arizona Republican, the state’s leading newspaper in 1912. The only problem was that Sally Jacobs knew little about sports. Daughter of Jewish immigrants, this female journalist was often confined to the women’s pages, common for the time. As society editor she covered ladies’ luncheons and literary clubs, but quickly expanded her purview to include political commentary, social justice, and even the state’s athletic teams. She interviewed such sports luminaries as heavyweight boxing champion Jess Willard and race-driver Barney Oldfield. She covered the Phoenix Senators baseball team and college football, but didn’t know sports. She fumed when fans booed players or when the baseball team went into extra innings instead of settling for a tie. Despite her sports shortcomings, Jacobs was admired for her clever prose. Readers loved her humor, especially her female followers whom she called “fair fanettes.” Jacobs understood the role sports played in the consumer economy that was emerging in modern American society during the 1910s.
Heidi J. Osselaer earned a doctorate in U.S. history at Arizona State University and has taught at ASU-Tempe,
Scottsdale Community College, and Phoenix College. She has authored two books, Winning Their Place: Arizona Women in Politics, and Arizona’s Deadliest Gunfight, as well as numerous articles on Arizona history. Osselaer has
served on the Board of the Arizona Women’s Heritage Trail, the Arizona History Convention, as well as the Editorial Board of the Journal of Arizona History. She was the 2011 recipient of the Sharlot Hall Award for her “valuable contributions to the understanding and awareness of Arizona and its history.”
Hollywood’s Bronze Buckaroo: The Story of Herb Jeffries
10:30 AM | Steve Renzi
Herb Jeffries was America’s first and only African-American singing cowboy. He appeared in movies and on stage for African-American audiences during the 1930s. He could ride, rope and sing with the best of them. After his movie career was over, he became a singer in the Duke Ellington band. This presentation will explore the life and career of Herb Jeffries, the Bronze Buckaroo.
Steve Renzi has maintained the Old West tradition of being an itinerant worker exploring many different career opportunities. Instead of being a cowboy, miner and Indian fighter, however, he has been a basketball coach, landscaper, worked for two weeks in an ice house, delivered lost airline luggage, writer and storyteller. Someday he’ll figure out what he really wants to do.
Hattie Lount Mosher: Fighting for Her Business and Her Life
1:00 PM | Dr. Mary Melcher
During a time when traditional gender roles dictated that women should be dependent on men, Hattie Lount Mosher was fiercely independent, making decisions based on her own values. She became an admired businesswoman and well-known figure in Phoenix during the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Her fall from wealth and society, however, was nothing if not spectacular. Inheriting significant real estate from her father at a relatively young age, she fought the city over paving and taxes, filing scores of lawsuits and appeals regarding her property. Eventually, she became known as a sad eccentric whose fights with City Hall cost her a fortune. Living by strong principles and fighting male city officials, she died alone and impoverished.
Mary Melcher, public historian and consultant, completed her Ph.D. in American history at Arizona State University in 1994, with fields in the 20th century, women’s history and the West. She worked at Sharlot Hall Museum as education program director from 2013 to 2017 and earlier as a curator at Arizona Historical Society. She was the lead historian for the Arizona Women’s Heritage Trail (AWHT), a public history project combining women’s history with interpretation of historic sites. This statewide project developed driving and walking tours, a traveling exhibit and a website with biographies of over a hundred Arizona women. She has published numerous articles in historical journals and a book, Pregnancy, Motherhood and Choice in Twentieth Century Arizona with the University of Arizona Press in 2012.
“Junior Bonner”: The Legacy of Summer ’71 and Filmmaking in Arizona
2:00 PM | Stuart Rosebrook, Ph.D.
Screenwriter Jeb Rosebrook‘s screenplay “Junior Bonner” was filmed on location in Prescott and Yavapai County in the summer of 1971. Starring Steve McQueen and released in 1972, “Junior Bonner” has become a cult-classic and was recently named by Cowboy and Indians magazine as one of the top 100 Western films. In looking back a half-century, Rosebrook will consider the legacy of “Junior Bonner” in Prescott, and why it should be considered one of the most important Westerns made in Arizona.
Stuart Rosebrook, Ph.D., has more than 35 years experience in journalism, publishing, public history, television production and non-profit management. He is currently the editor of True West magazine. Rosebrook is a historian of the American West, U.S. and Public history, and is a published author and accomplished public speaker. He holds a Ph.D. and a masters degree from Arizona State University, after earning a B.A. in history from Wake Forest University in North Carolina. Both he and his wife Julie E. Rosebrook, Ph.D., a psychologist with the Veterans Administration, live in Prescott and are the parents of two children.
Grácia Liliana Fernandez: Tempe Normal’s (ASU) First Professor of Spanish
3:00 PM | Christine Marin, Ph.D.
Old Main is the oldest standing building at Arizona State University. In 1885, the Territorial Normal School (that
became ASU) was founded and, by 1901, the school library was on the second floor of Old Main. The first Latina librarian, Gracia Liliana Fernandez of St. Johns, was hired in 1907 and, within three years, she became the school’s first professor of Spanish—a Latina teaching Hispanic culture—and was instrumental in students earning teaching-training diplomas in Territorial Arizona.
Christine Marin earned her doctorate in history from Arizona State University, and has devoted her professional
life to researching, documenting, preserving and sharing the history of Hispanics in Arizona, and highlighting the
many contributions they have made to the Territory and to the state. A native of Globe, Arizona, and born of immigrant parents from Mexico, she was inspired by them both to “Dream Big!” She helped found the Chicano/a Research Collection and Archives at the Hayden Library at ASU in Tempe, and remains involved in projects that publicize and celebrate ASU’s Latino history, with stories of Hispanic students faculty, staff and Tempe residents who have been integral to ASU’s history. In addition to numerous community and educational awards, Marin is a recipient of the Sharlot Hall Award for her “valuable contributions to the understanding and awareness of Arizona and its history.”
“I Felt the Call and I Must Go!”: Military Wives on the Arizona Frontier
7:00 PM | Jan Cleere
When the U.S. Army ordered troops into Arizona Territory to protect and defend the frontier populace, military men often brought their wives and families with them, particularly officers who might be stationed in the West for years. Most of the women were from refined, eastern-bred families with little knowledge of the territory they were entering. Yet they came to make homes for their families and bear children with little or no medical assistance. They learned to cope with the sparseness, the heat, sickness and danger, including wildlife they never imagined. They were bold, brave and compassionate women who played an important role in civilizing the Arizona frontier.
Jan Cleere is an author, historian, and lecturer. A magna cum laude graduate of ASU with a degree in American
Studies and an emphasis on writing, she is the award-winning author of five books and featured in three anthologies. Her monthly column “Western Women” appears in Tucson’s Arizona Daily Star newspaper detailing the lives of Arizona’s early amazing women. The Arizona Newspapers Association honored her for a series of historical profiles written for Phoenix Woman Magazine, and the Nevada Women’s History Project named her to its Roll of Honor for her significant contribution in the preservation of Nevada’s women history. A Roads Scholar with Arizona Humanities, her work appears in national and regional publications.