Brown Bag Lecture Series

Join us at 12 PM (noon) on the second TUESDAY of each month, March-November (excluding October), at the HALL OF STATE (3939 Grand Avenue, Dallas, Texas 75210) as the DHS explores a variety of different topics about local and state history.

  • All lectures are FREE and open to the public.
  • Individual reservations are not necessary but are appreciated for large groups planning to attend.
  • Tables will be available on a first come, first serve basis.
  • Attendees are welcome to bring their own “brown bag” lunch to enjoy during the presentation.
  • Each lecture will last approximately one hour.

This lecture series supported by:

Belmont Village Senior Living is designed for seniors who need some assistance with daily activities. Residents enjoy chef-prepared meals, housekeeping, transportation, and social activities.

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August 11

The Skin Quilt Project

with Dr. Lauren Cross
(A viewing of the documentary will follow the lecture)

The Skin Quilt Project is a documentary that explores colorism in the African-American community. The film addresses this complex issue through the stories of African-American quilters, and the tradition of an artform that celebrates its culture. The quilters speak of the influence of the African-American quilting tradition as a tool for encouraging an appreciation in the African-American cultural heritage.

Lauren Cross is an artist, curator, and scholar, who holds an M.F.A. in Visual Arts from Lesley University in Cambridge, Mass. (2010), and a Ph.D. in Multicultural Women's and Gender Studies from Texas Woman's University, Denton, Texas (2017). She is the Program Coordinator and Senior Lecturer in Interdisciplinary Art and Design Studies for UNT CVAD’s Department of Art Education Art History, and the founder of the arts non-profit, WoCA Projects, in Fort Worth, Texas.

Cross teaches undergraduate courses in the IADS program, such as art and business, IADS topics, and museum studies. Her teaching champions active-learning, service learning, and social networks with highlights being student-led symposiums on branding in the arts (2018) and ethics in art and design practice (2016). From 2016-2018, Cross co-organized a lecture series with her departmental colleague Dr. Jennifer Way entitled Conversations: Art, Politics & North Texas, which brought art industry professionals, artists, and scholars to UNT to discuss the impact of politics on the local arts community.

Cross' research addresses critical multicultural approaches in arts practice, arts entrepreneurship, curatorial studies, museum studies, and art history. Cross has been a frequent presenter at academic and public conferences across the country and internationally, and is the director of the award-winning documentary, The Skin Quilt Project, which was produced in 2010 and was an official selection at the 2010 International Black Women's Film Festival in Berkley, California.

Cross has been recognized nationally and internationally for her art practice and community work, included featured works in museums and galleries across the U.S. and the 2015 Edinburgh Art Festival in Edinburgh, Scotland. She received the Third Annual Visionary Award by Fort Worth Weekly magazine in 2013, and was named one of Dallas' "100 Creatives" by the Dallas Observer in 2015. In 2018, Cross was selected as a Visiting Artist for the Center for Creative Connections at the Dallas Museum of Art, and an inaugural Carter Community Artist for the Amon Carter Museum of American Art. In 2019, Cross was recognized as one of 13 Women Forwarding Fort Worth by Fort Worth Magazine.

September 8

This Used to be Dallas

with Harry Hall

Each page of This Used to be Dallas will challenge your view of the city around you. Harry Hall uncovers the stories of perseverance, deliverance, tragedy, and past glory behind Dallas buildings that were once something else. It might be a fallen dream, such as the remnants of a waterpark that briefly dazzled locals in the early twentieth century; or a coffin supply company that once advertised services, Twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week. There’s the hotel that was built only after the city yielded to the demands of a beer baron and the non-descript Oak Cliff home that once housed America’s greatest female athlete. What might your favorite Dallas buildings house in the future? Each structure has its own background, its own future, its own story. Explore your favorite Dallas spots with a new vision, or discover a surprising past just beyond the familiar walls of the fascinating places throughout the city.

Harry Hall is the author of Help, Everyone is Staring at Me and the award-winning The Pedestriennes: America’s Forgotten Superstars. A long-time distance runner, much of his writing career has covered amateur/professional sports, from tennis exhibitions to the Olympic Track and Field Trials. He has lived in north Texas most of his life with his wife and family.

November 10

The Life and Legends of Deep Ellum

with John Slate

From Blind Lemon Jefferson and Lead Belly to European immigrant families, Deep Ellum was a vibrant melting pot of cultures and experiences. Please join Dallas City Archivist John Slate as we learn about the diverse history of the Deep Ellum and Central Track neighborhood and its legendary figures.

Historic Deep Ellum:

After the Civil War many ex-enslaved persons settled in what were called “Freedmentowns.”  In Dallas, the railroad helped spawn one of these towns along Elm Street in an area now known as Deep Ellum. “Ellum” is the phonetic spelling of the southern pronunciation of Elm, and deep indicated its far east location in relation to downtown.  Businesses and make-shift houses sprung up around Central Track in an area too far from downtown to be deemed desirable.  During the early 1900’s the area was mostly occupied by African Americans and Jewish immigrants. By the 1920’s these residents had established a community well known for its businesses that provided nearly any kind of merchandise. It also found fame in its nightclubs, which became hotbeds for blues and jazz music.

Postponed Brown Bag Lectures


Wanted in America: Posters Collected by the Fort Worth
Police Department, 1898-1903

with Dr. LeAnna Schooley and Tom Kellam

This book of genuine wanted posters distributed by law enforcement agencies at the turn of the twentieth century will change your perspective on the genre. Wanted in America: Posters Collected by the Fort Worth Police Department, 1898–1903 features fifty posters and the fascinating true crime stories behind them. While some of the offenders are virtually unknown today, others, such as Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, remain household names. You will meet fugitive pickpockets, embezzlers, robbers, kidnappers, murderers, and more, along with their associates and their victims. They are a cross-section of America—men and women of all ages, social classes, and many races and nationalities. Though the notices were created on a local level, they reflect national social and economic changes in a growing population.

Leanna S. Schooley is executive director of the Center for Texas Studies at TCU, where she received her PhD in 2017. A native of Fort Worth, childhood vacations to historic sites of all kinds cemented her interest in history early on in life. She holds bachelor degrees in Museum Studies and History from Baylor University and a master’s degree in Architectural Studies emphasizing Historic Preservation from the University of Texas at Austin.

She previously served as Executive Director of the Fort Stockton Historical Society, Military Sites and Survey Coordinator at the Texas Historical Commission, and Curator/Facilities Manager of the W. K. Gordon Center at the Thurber ghost town. She is a member of several civic and professional organizations including Texas State Historical Association, Texas Association of Museums, and American Alliance of Museums and has served as president of the Big Bend Area Travel Association (now the Texas Mountain Heritage Trail Region) and the Texas Forts Heritage Trail Region.

Tom Kellam is a native of Fort Worth with degrees in philosophy, history, and library science. He worked in the Genealogy, Local History, and Archives Unit at the Fort Worth Public Library for twenty-three years. He is currently the district archivist for Tarrant County College.




George P. Mitchell: Fracking, Sustainability and an Unorthodox Quest to Save the Planet

with Loren Steffy

Upon George Mitchell’s death in 2013, The Economist proclaimed, “Few businesspeople have done as much to change the world as George Mitchell,” a billionaire Texas oilman who defied the stereotypical swagger so identified with that industry. In George P. Mitchell: Fracking, Sustainability, and an Unorthodox Quest to Save the Planet, award-winning author Loren C. Steffy offers the first definitive biography of Mitchell, placing his life and legacy in a global context, from the significance of his discoveries to the lingering controversies they inspired.

Loren C. Steffy is the author of Drowning in Oil: BP and the Reckless Pursuit of Profit and The Man Who Thought Like a Ship. A former business columnist for the Houston Chronicle and a four-time finalist for the Gerald Loeb Award for Distinguished Business and Financial Journalism, Steffy is a writer-at-large for Texas Monthly. He has appeared on CNBC, Fox Business, MSNBC, the BBC, and the PBS Newshour.


Adolphe Gouhenant: French Revolutionary, Utopian Leader, and Texas Frontier Photographer

with Paula Selzer

Adolphe Gouhenant tells the story of artist, revolutionary, and early North Texas resident Francois Ignace (Adolphe) Gouhenant (1804-1871). Born at the dawn of the Romantic era, Gouhenant traveled from a small village near the foothills of the Alps to France’s second largest city, where he built a monument to the arts and sciences atop Lyon’s famous Fourvière Hill. His wildly ambitious schemes landed him in court and ultimately devastated him financially. Participating in clandestine revolutionary organizations, Gouhenant organized a secret meeting under the guise of a Masonic banquet and was later imprisoned for conspiracy against the monarchy.

Paula Selzer is a third great-granddaughter of Adolphe Gouhenant. She has spent twenty-five years working on children's health policy for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, she served as a Peace Corps Volunteer in the Dominican Republic, and she earned a Bachelor of Fine Arts from Southern Methodist University and Master of Public Policy from Rutgers.

Previous Brown Bag Lectures

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