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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To take a brief survey about your experiences at one of our Brown Bags (or to make suggestions about future Brown Bag topics), please CLICK HERE.


Postponed – TBD

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.

Aligning himself with the early communist movement, Gouhenant advocated for workers’ rights and was selected by well-known Icarian communist Etienne Cabet to lead an advance guard on a treacherous journey across the Atlantic to settle a utopian colony in North Texas. Despite broken wagons, severe weather, and lack of food, he navigated overland from New Orleans in 1848 to establish a small settlement in Denton County. The community, beset by hardships, ultimately scapegoated Gouhenant and accused him of being a French agent deliberately sent to lead the group to destruction into the wilds, and for this “treason” they shaved his head and beard and expelled him from the colony (which collapsed shortly thereafter).

Gouhenant then journeyed to Fort Worth to teach the federal soldiers French and art, and next to Dallas where he founded the town’s first arts establishment in the 1850s. He set up shop as a daguerreotypist and photographed the town’s early residents. His Arts Saloon was the scene of many exhibitions and dances but ultimately became the high stake in a nasty battle among Dallas’s leading citizens, setting legal precedent for Texas homestead law. Gouhenant’s death in a freak railroad accident left behind mysterious claims that contribute one last chapter to his story.

About the Author:

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.

May 12

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.

The fifty posters published here represent only a small sample of the hundreds available for research. The stories behind the posters demonstrate how twentieth-century advances in mass media distribution, law enforcement techniques, transportation, and communication impacted the ability of lawmen to locate the fugitives they sought and the ability of the suspects to stay on the run. They reveal that the game of cat and mouse continued as both hunter and hunted found ways to use technology to their advantage.

Over thirty-five professors, journalists, and historians generously contributed their talents to research and craft the essays that accompany these posters. The tales themselves run the gamut from amusing to puzzling to horrific. These may not be the wanted posters of popular imagination, but they are the real thing—which makes them all the better.

About the Author:

Leanna S. Schooley is executive director of the Center for Texas Studies at TCU, where she received her PhD in 2017. She has spent her career working in museums and public history organizations. 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.

June 9

Doug’s Gym – The Last of Its Kind

with Norm Diamond

Norm Diamond photographed the last months of a dilapidated, yet beautiful old gym in Dallas, Texas. These stark images could have come from another era. They evoke themes of memory and loss. No modern gym looks like this. The owner, Doug Eidd, a grizzled 87-year-old, opened the gym in 1962. He could have emerged from a time capsule as well. His members did not care that the gym was run down or that Doug smoked cigars most of the day. They respected his expertise and loved the casual atmosphere he created. Although Doug was still fit, he did not resemble the muscle-bound figure of his youth. He knew that time would one day engulf him and the gym. This came to pass in the spring of 2018 when he was forced to close the gym on short notice. Diamond stayed to photograph the removal of the equipment as Doug’s Gym drifted into memory.

About the Authors:

Norm Diamond is a fine art photographer with a previous career in interventional radiology. His work has been shown at the Houston Center for Photography, the Davis Orton Gallery, and the Griffin Museum of Photography. He has studied with Debbie Fleming Caffery, Sean Kernan, Keith Carter, Arno Minkkinen, Aline Smithson and, from 2013 to the present, he has been mentored by Cig Harvey. In addition to his teachers, he attributes much of his success in photography to his experiences as a physician. His current project, “Doug’s Gym―The Last of Its Kind,” chronicles the last months of a classic old gym in downtown Dallas that was owned and operated by the same man in the same second-floor walkup location for fifty-five years. The images depict a gym that is decrepit yet beautiful. Based on this work, Diamond was named a finalist in the Photolucida Critical Mass competition of 2018. He is represented by Afterimage Gallery, Dallas, TX.

Roy Flukinger is the former Senior Research Curator of Photography and former Department Head and Senior Curator of Photography and Film of the Harry Ransom Humanities Research Center at The University of Texas at Austin, where he served as a curator since 1977. He holds degrees from Tulane University and from The University of Texas Austin, and has taught as an Adjunct Lecturer or Assistant Professor at UT and other institutions of higher learning. His service on professional boards has included, among others, the Texas Photographic Society, the Texas Humanities Resource Center, the Houston Fotofest, photolucida, the Getty Art & Architecture Thesaurus, the Houston Center for Photography, the Austin Center for Photography, and the Steering Committee for the Texas Historical Foundation’s Historical Photographs Project. He is engaged in numerous other projects including presentations or articles on photographic history, collection management, and contemporary and Texas photography, as well as contributing essays to many publications each year.

July 14

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.

Mitchell will forever be known as “the father of fracking,” but he didn’t invent the drilling process; he perfected it and made it profitable, one of many varied ventures he pursued for years. Long before his company ever fracked a well, he pioneered sustainable development by creating The Woodlands, near Houston, one of the first and most successful master-planned communities. Its focus on environmental protection and livability redefined the American suburb.  This apparent contradiction between his energy interests and environmental pursuits, which his son Todd dubbed “the Mitchell Paradox,” was just one of many that defined Mitchell’s life.

Anyone who puts fuel in a tank or turns on a light switch has benefited from Mitchell’s efforts. This compelling biography reveals Mitchell as a modern renaissance man who sought to make the world a better, more livable place, a man whose unbounded intellectual curiosity led him to support a wide range of interests in business, science, and philanthropy.

About the Author:

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.

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.

About the Author:

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.

About the Author:

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.

Previous Brown Bag Lectures

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