Monthly Speakers

Tacoma Historical Society holds monthly forums the second Monday of each month, at 7 pm.

Local historians are featured as speakers, offering presentations on a wide variety of subjects based on extensive research. Our newest addition to these monthly meetings is the Collections Moment, a brief presentation by our curator Brendan Balaam to highlight an artifact from our collection!

Upcoming presentations are listed on our Programs page. Past presentations are archived below.

2018 Speakers

Monday, December 10, 2018
Murray Board Room, Wheelock Student Center, University of Puget Sound

Historian and re-enactor Jerry Eckrom brought to life Floyd Owen, longtime superintendent of Tacoma Parks.


Monday, November 12, 2018
Murray Board Room, Wheelock Student Center, University of Puget Sound

University of Puget Sound professor Nancy K. Bristow shared stories from her research into the 1918 Influenza Epidemic. Dr. Bristow is the author of American Pandemic: The Lost Worlds of the 1918 Influenza Epidemic.


Monday, October 8, 2018
Murray Board Room, Wheelock Student Center, University of Puget Sound

Kim Davenport, author of the recent Images of America release "Tacoma's Lincoln District", shared the story behind the Lincoln Statue, a century-old landmark in Tacoma's south end.


Monday, September 10, 2018
Murray Board Room, Wheelock Student Center, University of Puget Sound

David Cantlin, local railroad historian and photographer, and author of multiple articles on railroad history as well as the 2013 Image of America book Tacoma Rail, spoke on "Some Mid Life History of Tacoma Rail".


Monday, May 14, 2018
Murray Board Room, Wheelock Student Center, University of Puget Sound

Finding Aunt Kate: History sleuth Deb Freedman shared stories of searching for clues to identify orphaned photos.


Monday, April 9, 2018
Wyatt 109, University of Puget Sound

Our featured speaker was Alma Marush, with her presentation "A Century and More of Tacoma History." Almost 102 years ago, Alma Marush was born in Tacoma to immigrant parents who founded Marush Brothers Fish and Oysters and other fishing-related enterprises. She worked as her father's financial assistant in the family businesses and later became an administrative secretary in the Clover Park School District. She and her husband led in establishment of a hospital in India. At age 85 she went to college to became a chaplain and at 95 was awarded a doctorate. She shared her recollections of the last century with Tacoma Historical Society.

The video documentary of Alma's life shared during the meeting was produced by Braaten Productions.


Monday, March 12, 2018
Murray Board Room, Wheelock Student Center, University of Puget Sound

Virna Haffer: A Turbulent Lens
David Martin discussed the art and life of Tacoma photographer Virna Haffer (1899-1974), one of the most original and accomplished photographers ever active in the Pacific Northwest. Martin was co-author and co-curator of the highly successful Haffer exhibition at the Tacoma Art Museum in 2011. Having been a close friend of Haffer's son Gene Randall for many years, Martin shared personal stories about the artist and will be available to answer any questions about her life and career.


Monday, February 12, 2018
Kilworth Chapel, University of Puget Sound

A Tacoma Mayor's Life Journey
Victoria Woodards took office as Tacoma's 39th mayor in January 2018, and Tacoma Historical Society was honored to present her as our February speaker. Woodards shared stories from her journey of life, work, and service in Tacoma.


Monday, January 8, 2018
Murray Board Room, Wheelock Student Center, University of Puget Sound

From the Historical to the Fictional
Tacoma author Joanne Francis shared excerpts from her collection of short-stories, "Dearest Sparrow."


2017 Speakers

Monday, December 11, 2017
Murray Board Room, Wheelock Student Center, University of Puget Sound

New Tacoma Historical Society Website: Soft Launch
THS Director Kim Davenport presented the new THS website and invited member feedback prior to the site's launch.


Monday, November 13, 2017

Murray Board Room, Wheelock Student Center, University of Puget Sound

The Cushman Substation and Its Importance in Tacoma’s History
Jeffrey J. Ryan, architect


Monday, October 9, 2017

Murray Board Room, Wheelock Student Center, University of Puget Sound

Heydey and Demise of J M Martinac
Joe Martinac Jr. presents stories about Tacoma's historic shipbuilding firm that cranked out tugs, fishing boats, and Navy patrol craft on the Thea Foss Waterway from 1924 to 2014.


Monday, September 11, 2017
Murray Board Room, Wheelock Student Center, University of Puget Sound

Memories of Memories
Gregory Tanbara shared stories his parents shared with him about their lives, the World War II relocation camps, and later.


Monday, March 13, 2017
Murray Board Room, Wheelock Student Center, University of Puget Sound

Dennis Flannigan looks back on a career that started in 1964 with Freedom Summer in Mississippi & included years of public service in his native Tacoma.


Monday, February 6, 2017
Murray Board Room, Wheelock Student Center, University of Puget Sound

Karla Stover
Author of the new book, Tacoma Curiosities


Monday, January 9, 2017
Murray Board Room, Wheelock Student Center, University of Puget Sound

The Mosquito Fleet of South Puget Sound
Jean Cammon Findlay

 

2008 Speakers

December 8, 2008
Theater on the Square, downtown on Broadway

So Many Things to Do Yet: the Saga of Thea Foss
A one-woman show by Karen Haas
Made possible by a grant from Greater Tacoma Community Foundation


November 10, 2008
Grace Baptist Church, 2507 North Vassault

Pictures from a New Home: Early Nordic Immigrant Painters in Tacoma and Pierce County
Professor Brian Magnusson shared insights on the influence of Swedish culture on the Pacific Northwest.


October 13, 2008
Tacoma Public Library, Main Branch

The Selden Saga: Dr. Ron Magden and Stan Selden recounted the history of this long-time Tacoma family whose furniture store has served the community since 1940.


September 8, 2008
St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church, 7410 S. 12th St.

Tour and Presentation: "St. Andrew's Church and Tacoma's Westward Growth."

 

2016 Speakers

December 12, 2016
Murray Board Room, Wheelock Student Center, University of Puget Sound

Former Tacoma Mayor Harold G. Moss
Author of a recent memoir, "Fighting for Dreams that Mattered"


November 14, 2016

Murray Board Room, Wheelock Student Center, University of Puget Sound

Howard Carr: Scion of a Tacoma Legend with a Legendary Story
Mary Bowlby, executive director, Job Carr Cabin Museum


October 10, 2016

Murray Board Room, Wheelock Student Center, University of Puget Sound

Deborah K. Freedman
Author of the newly released book "Tacoma's Dry Goods & Wet Goods: Nineteenth Century Jewish Pioneers"


September 18, 2016

Greater Destiny Church, 324 North J Street

Windows into History
An opportunity to tour the former Temple Israel building, hosted by the Rev. Ivan Johnson. Then learn about the lives of the Jewish pioneers remembered in the memorial windows, as presented by Deb Freedman.


September 12, 2016

Murray Board Room, Wheelock Student Center, University of Puget Sound

Eleanor Corey Guderian
Author of a recently published family memoir that resonates with local history: "Sticks, Stones and Songs - The Corey Story"


June 12, 2016

Tacoma Historical Society Museum, 919 Pacific

Local historian Dale Wirsing presents: Street-Wise in Tacoma - the Stories Behind the Names


March 14, 2016

Murray Board Room, Wheelock Student Center, University of Puget Sound

From Resource to Road Maps: Documenting Tacoma's Growth
Presented by Julie LaRue, Tacoma Historical Society Director. A preview of the upcoming exhibit "Mapping Tacoma" and an opportunity to provide feedback for future exhibits, programs, and THS outreach.


February 8, 2016

Murray Board Room, Wheelock Student Center, University of Puget Sound

Kimberly Davenport, author of the new Images of America book, Tacoma's Theater District


January 11, 2016

Murray Board Room, Wheelock Student Center, University of Puget Sound

Dr. Jerry V. Ramsey, author of the new book, Stealing Puget Sound, 1832-1869
 

2015 Speakers

December 7, 2015
Murray Board Room, Wheelock Student Center, University of Puget Sound

How the carrier Lexington kept Tacoma from going dark
William Lokey


November 9, 2015
Murray Board Room, Wheelock Student Center, University of Puget Sound

The Other Woman - Building the 2007 Tacoma Narrows Bridge
Dennis Engel, Washington State Department of Transportation engineer


October 12, 2015
Murray Board Room, Wheelock Student Center, University of Puget Sound

Tacoma Public Library - From its Beginnings to Today
Brian Kamens, Supervisor of Tacoma Public Library's Northwest Room


June 8, 2015
Murray Board Room, Wheelock Student Center, University of Puget Sound

Pictures at an exhibition: the Richards Photography Collection Meets Write @253
Rusty Johnson


June 7, 2015
Tacoma Historical Society Museum, 919 Pacific

An "Open" Conversation with Ken Still. Tacoma Historical Society is pleased to join with the Tacoma Athletic Commission in honoring special guest Ken Still, the coming US Open, and the rich history of golf in Tacoma.


April 13, 2015
Rotunda, Wheelock Student Center, University of Puget Sound

Allen B. Petrich, Tacoma's First Ship Builder


March 9, 2015
Murray Board Room, Wheelock Student Center, University of Puget Sound

TEE-Time in T-Town, Golf History in the City of Destiny
Dr. Jerry V. Ramsey shares forgotten facts as Tacoma prepares to be the center of the golf world.
 

2014 Speakers

November 10, 2014
Murray Board Room, Wheelock Student Center, University of Puget Sound

Abby Williams Hill: Her Life, Her Legacy
Laura Edgar


October 13, 2014
Murray Board Room, Wheelock Student Center, University of Puget Sound

Tacoma Street Railways
Paul Curtiss


September 8, 2014
Murray Board Room, Wheelock Student Center, University of Puget Sound

Candymaker: The Life and Times of Fred Haley
Dr. Ronald E. Magden


April 14, 2014
Murray Board Room, Wheelock Student Center, University of Puget Sound

Sydney Newell recounts the life of her remarkable grandmother, Bernice E. Newell, society writer, impresario and a woman ahead of her time.


March 10, 2014
Murray Board Room, Wheelock Student Center, University of Puget Sound

Walter Neary, as "the man who wrote it all down," Tacoma historian Herbert Hunt. The real Herbert Hunt will be portrayed by Walter Neary, local historian and a journalist himself.


February 10, 2014
Murray Board Room, Wheelock Student Center, University of Puget Sound

David Cantlin, author of the new Arcadia book, Tacoma Rail


January 13, 2014
Murray Board Room, Wheelock Student Center, University of Puget Sound

Sandra Walker, author of the new book, Little Merchants, the Golden Era of Youth Delivering Newspapers

2013 Speakers

December 9, 2013
Murray Board Room, Wheelock Student Center, University of Puget Sound

Della Gould Emmons - Tacoma visionary, author and activist
Col Gary Emmons recounts his grandmother's remarkable life


November 11, 2013

Murray Board Room, Wheelock Student Center, University of Puget Sound

Tacoma's Playground - American Lake
Nancy Covert, writer and journalist


October 14, 2013

Murray Board Room, Wheelock Student Center, University of Puget Sound

Tacoma's Haunted History
Teresa Nordheim and Ross Allison


September 9, 2013

Murray Board Room, Wheelock Student Center, University of Puget Sound

The Search for El Primero
Rich Hildahl


June 10, 2013

Wyatt 109, University of Puget Sound

Richard Blumenthal, author of the new book Maritime Place Names; Inland Washington Waters


April 8, 2013

Murray Board Room, Wheelock Student Center, University of Puget Sound

Showtime in Tacoma: The 125-year story of Tacoma Theaters
Blaine Johnson & Brian Kamens
The Alexander Pantages Story
Babe Lehrer


March 11, 2013

Murray Board Room, Wheelock Student Center, University of Puget Sound

Tacoma's First Footprints, Yesterday to Today
Dr. Jerry V. Ramsey will trace the history of our area's first citizens, provide an overview of the impacts that treaty rights and federal recognition and laws have had on our area's Native Americans, and bring us up to speed on current concerns and achievements in the Tacoma community.


February 11, 2013

Murray Board Room, Wheelock Student Center, University of Puget Sound

The Long Journey from Cambodia to Tacoma
Patricia Harrington


January 14, 2013

Murray Board Room, Wheelock Student Center, University of Puget Sound

Melissa McGinnis and Dorren Beard-Simpkins, authors of a new Images of America book, Tacoma's Point Defiance Park

2012 Speakers

November 12, 2012
Murray Board Room, Wheelock Student Center, University of Puget Sound

Piecing Together a Life: Sam Wall
Deb Freedman and JoAnn Yost


October 8, 2012

Murray Board Room, Wheelock Student Center, University of Puget Sound

Brewed in Tacoma: Celebrating the Revival of Our Craft Breweries
Doug McDonnell


September 10, 2012

Murray Board Room, Wheelock Student Center, University of Puget Sound

The Johnsons and the Swedish Exodus
Thomas R. Stenger


June 11, 2012

Murray Board Room, Wheelock Student Center, University of Puget Sound

Tacoma's Fateful Fourth
Russel Holter, author of an unpublished book, Tacoma's Fateful Fourth, the History of the Worst Trolley Accident in America, July 4, 1900.


May 14, 2012

Murray Board Room, Wheelock Student Center, University of Puget Sound

Karla Wakefile Stover, author of the new book, Hidden History of Tacoma: Little-Known Tales from the City of Destiny


April 9, 2012

Murray Board Room, Wheelock Student Center, University of Puget Sound

1929 Tacoma: First Showing of a Rare Film
Dr. Ronald E. Magden


March 12, 2012

Murray Board Room, Wheelock Student Center, University of Puget Sound

Fife - from Reservation through the Farming Community Years
Susan Kaelin, author of the newly published Images of America book, Fife


February 13, 2012

Murray Board Room, Wheelock Student Center, University of Puget Sound

The Forgetting of John Montgomery
Dr. Jerry V. Ramsey


January 9, 2012

Murray Board Room, Wheelock Student Center, University of Puget Sound

Chuck Fowler, co-author of the new Images of America book, Patrol and Rescue Boats on Puget Sound

2011 Speakers

October 10, 2011
Murray Board Room, Wheelock Student Center, University of Puget Sound

One Hundred Years of Panorama Photography
Ron Karabaich and Thomas R. Stenger


September 12, 2011

Murray Board Room, Wheelock Student Center, University of Puget Sound

Kris Anderson Reisinger, author of the new Images of America book, Cemeteries of Tacoma


April 11, 2011
Murray Board Room, Wheelock Student Center, University of Puget Sound

Franke Tobey Jones Was a Lady: Frank Tobey Jones - a familiar name indeed. Here was a woman of substance and independent spirit, and her legacy endures.
Presented by Darlyne Reiter


February 11, 2011

Murray Board Room, Wheelock Student Center, University of Puget Sound

Homeward, Upward, Forward: the Immidgrant Saga of Otto and Alva Karlstrom and the Founding of Lutheran Compass Missions in Seattle and Tacoma
Dr. Ernest Karlstrom, professor emeritus of biology, University of Puget Sound

2010 Speakers

April 12, 2010
Bates Technical College Downtown Campus, 1101 S. Yakima Avenue

20th Annual Meeting, Tacoma Historical Society
Speaker: C. Mark Smith, biographer of Tacoma Mayor Harry Pulliam Cain


March 18, 2010

Washington State History Museum, 1911 Pacific Avenue

May's Vote
Barbara Callander and Toni Douglass appear as suffragists Emma Smith DeVoe and May Arkwright Hutton


February 8, 2010

Tacoma Public Library, 1101 Tacoma Avenue

Hotel Living - From the Tacoma to the Man Without a Dime
Tacoma historian Thomas R. Stenger


January 11, 2010

Tacoma Public Library, 1101 Tacoma Avenue

Tugboats on Puget Sound
Maritime author Chuck Fowler

2009 Speakers

December 14, 2009
Tacoma Public Library, 1101 Tacoma Avenue

University of Puget Sound - the Early Years
Dr. George Mills, Vice President of Enrollment, Office of Admissions, UPS


November 9, 2009
Woodbrook Hunt Club

Author Joy Keniston-Longrie presents from her new Images of America Series book, Woodbrook Hunt Club


October 12, 2009
Bekins Building, 621 Tacoma Avenue

Tacoma's Architecture: One Part of the Story
James Martin Harris, Architect
Changes in Tacoma's downtown, ca. 1980s and 90s, plus a tour of First United Methodist's new home, the remodeled Bekins Building.


September 14, 2009

Tacoma's Suffragettes
Shanna Stevenson, coordinator of the Women's History Consortium for Washington State Historical Society


June 8, 2009
Tacoma Public Library, 1102 Tacoma Avenue

Tough Times in T-Town
Thomas R. Stenger, member of the THS board of directors and former Tacoma City Councilman.


March 9, 2009

The Life and Times of "Gentleman Jim" - the story of Tacoma's Admiral James S. Russell
Speaker: Malcolm Russell


February 9, 2009

The Mosquito Fleet of South Puget Sound
Speakers: Robin Paterson and Jean Findlay


January 12, 2009

In Hot Pursuit of a Cold Case: Investigating the Burning of Washington's Major Cities During the 'Year of Evil Destiny' - 1889
Presnted by: Charles Hansen

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