In 1941, following the devastating surprise attack at Pearl Harbor, a group of female college students received secret letters from the U.S. Navy, inviting them to join America’s intelligence forces and train to become code breakers. Over the next two years more than 10,000 women would answer that call. Their efforts shortened the war, saved countless lives and gave them access to careers previously denied to them, but a strict vow of secrecy nearly erased their efforts from history.
Recently, through exhaustive research and interviews with surviving code girls, bestselling author Liza Mundy has brought to life this riveting story of American courage, service and scientific accomplishment. In her Great Lives talk, she will share this story that, in the tradition of Hidden Figures, is the account of an early cohort of women adept in science and math, whose efforts helped the Allies win the biggest and costliest war in human history.
The program is sponsored, in part, by UMW’s Common Read and Honors Program. It will be held in George Washington Hall’s Dodd Auditorium on the Fredericksburg campus of the University of Mary Washington, beginning at 7:30 p.m., and is open to the public free of charge.
Conducted by Virginia Master Naturalists, these informative walks cover a mile of trails in both woodlands and fields and also touch on the historic ruins of Belmont’s past. Please wear sturdy footwear. Meet outside the Visitor Center.
The pursuit of success has been a cornerstone of the American Dream, and a number of famous figures in American culture have offered formulas for achieving it, ranging from Benjamin Franklin in the 18th century to Horatio Alger in the 19th century to Donald Trump in our own time. But the most influential modern success writer has been Dale Carnegie, whose renowned book, How to Win Friends and Influence People (1936) remains even now one of the best sellers in American history. Carnegie’s emphasis on the cultivation of a winning personality and skilled human relations became the foundation for a modern creed of success, and a host of modern self-help gurus — from Norman Vincent Peale to Oprah Winfrey — have followed the path first blazed by Dale Carnegie.
Speaker Steven Watts is Professor of History at the University of Missouri. He is the author of seven books, including Self-Help Messiah: Dale Carnegie and Success in Modern America (2013). His talk is sponsored in part by JON Properties/Van Zandt Restorations. It will be held in UMW’s Dodd Auditorium at 7:30 p.m. on Jan. 30, and is open to the public free of charge.
The American West of the late 19th century was legendary for its violence and crime – nowhere more so than in Dodge City, Kansas. The task of cleaning up that center of iniquity fell largely to two lawmen named Wyatt Earp and Bat Masterson, subsequently immortalized in the mind of the American public through Hollywood films, television series and western novels. Prize-winning author Tom Clavin will discuss the true story of the two men’s friendship, romances, gun fights and adventures, along with portraits of the remarkable cast of characters with whom they interacted – including such legendary figures as Wild Bill Hickok, Jesse James, Doc Holliday, Buffalo Bill Cody, Billy the Kid and Theodore Roosevelt.
The program is sponsored in part by Davenport and Company. It will be held in UMW’s Dodd Auditorium at 7:30 p.m., and is open to the public free of charge.
In 1918, the U.S. Army Signal Corps sent 223 young women to France. They were masters of the latest technology: the telephone switchboard. Gen. John Pershing demanded female “wire experts” when he discovered that inexperienced doughboys were unable to keep him connected with troops under fire. So, while suffragettes protested for the right to vote, these courageous soldiers enlisted in the Army.
Speaker Elizabeth Cobbs, author of The Hello Girls, reveals the challenges they faced in a war zone where men welcomed, resented, wooed, mocked, saluted and ultimately celebrated them. When the last operators sailed home, the Army unexpectedly dismissed them without veterans’ benefits, beginning a 60-year battle. With the help of the National Organization for Women and Sen. Barry Goldwater, America’s first women soldiers finally received belated recognition in 1979.
The lecture will be held in UMW’s Dodd Auditorium on Feb. 6 at 7:30 p.m. It is sponsored in part by Hirschler Fleisher Law Firm, and is open to the public free of charge.
Nikola Tesla was a major contributor to the electrical revolution that transformed daily life at the turn of the 20th century. His inventions formed the basis of modern AC electricity and contributed to the development of radio and television. Like his rival Thomas Edison, Tesla was one of America’s first celebrity scientists, enjoying the company of New York high society and dazzling the likes of Mark Twain with his electrical demonstrations. In this talk, University of Virginia Professor Bernard Carlson, Tesla’s foremost biographer, will describe his rapid rise to fame in the 1880s and his equally sudden fall from grace in the 1890s, always with an eye to what Tesla can teach about the role of innovation in American society.
The lecture will be held in UMW’s Dodd Auditorium on Feb. 8 at 7:30 p.m. It is sponsored in part by The Dovetail Cultural Resource Group, and is open to the public free of charge.
African Americans fought a war on two fronts in World War II: against fascism abroad and against white supremacy at home. No group battled both as directly, made better use of the opportunities the war created or did more to lay the groundwork for the civil rights movement than the Tuskegee Airmen. These all-black fighter and bomber groups fought their way into the U.S. Army Air Forces, then battled Hitler’s Luftwaffe in the skies over Europe and Jim Crow’s forces at postings throughout the United States.
The speaker, University of North Texas Professor Todd Moye, author of Freedom Flyers, traces this story from the long struggle to force the War Department to train pilots of color, through the Tuskegee Airmen’s campaign to win equal opportunities to serve their country in wartime, to the postwar efforts to desegregate the Air Force.
The lecture will be held in UMW’s Dodd Auditorium on Feb. 13 at 7:30 p.m. It is sponsored in part by Yuh Prosthodontics, and is open to the public free of charge.
From his small Sun Records studio in Memphis, producer Sam Phillips was responsible for so many of the early rock ‘n’ roll hits that he has been hailed as the godfather of that musical genre. Beginning with Elvis Presley, Phillips went on to record such notables as Carl Perkins, Jerry Lee Lewis and Johnny Cash. It was in his studio in December, 1956, that those three, along with Elvis, serendipitously met for an informal session that has been recently immortalized in the popular musical The Million Dollar Quartet.
Phillips’ impact on music and, by extension, on the larger American culture will be the subject of the Crawley Great Lives presentation on Feb. 15 by preeminent popular music historian Peter Guralnick, author of the definitive biographies of Elvis and, most recently, Sam Phillips.
The program will be held in UMW’s Dodd Auditorium at 7:30 p.m., and is open to the public free of charge.