Colorado 2019

November 2, 2019

Arapahoe Community College, Littleton Campus


Registration is open – scroll to the bottom.

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History Camp brings together people from all walks of life who are passionate about history.

Here’s what one participant said:

“I’ve been to dozens of official academic conferences with big names where all submissions are thoroughly vetted by panels of experts, and none of those conf informative as History Camp. It really was the best set of speakers I’ve seen at a conference: relaxed and informed and direct.”

This is a good overview, and especially helpful if you are curious about what makes History Camp different than any other conference or gathering you’ve ever attended.

If you love history, History Camp is for you.

Register Now


Help spread the word about History Camp Colorado – post this flier at your local coffee shop, library, school, and on any of your favorite community bulletin boards.

One of the things that makes History Camp unique is that we welcome any presenter who wishes to share their love of history.  You might be an author, Park Ranger, armchair historian, volunteer, reenactor, retired public health nurse, student, executive director, tour guide . . . In fact, we’ve had folks with those backgrounds and many more present.

Your topic must relate to history.  You might cover historical people and events, historical research and methods, managing a historic site or history organization, careers for people who love history, teaching history, or other topics related to history.

And unlike other conferences, you don’t have make your presentation conform to a theme, geography, or narrow subject area.

There are two things to steer clear of: Product pitches and current or recent politics.

We all chip in to cover the cost of History Camp, so speakers register, just like everyone else.

And because sharing information as broadly as possible is one of the fundamental principles of History Camp, many sessions are recorded and all presenters are asked to post their slides.  If you have things that you don’t want to appear online (on YouTube or elsewhere), don’t include them in your slides or consider a different presentation.

If you’re interested in presenting, please sign up here.

Don’t worry if you are interested in speaking on a topic that’s been covered in previous years.  And, to get an idea of the breadth and depth of presentations, follow the links to History Camps in past years and in other cities.

Would your organization like to offer a special program or tour Sunday or discounted admission to your site? Please send us a description with details about your offer and I will add it below, include it in the session guide, and announce it at the beginning and end of History Camp.


2019 Sessions

The Real Yellow Brick Road – Denver’s Brick Sewers

Gail Keeley, Historian, President & Owner, Hermsen Consultants

Who would have thought Denver’s first sewers were built of brick? In 1880, after 20 years of urban growth, with only outhouses and cesspools to handle human waste, it was clear a long term solution was needed. Brick was the most durable building material of the time and so it was used to build the first sewers. Teams of oxen carried in the bricks and skilled brick masons built the earliest sewers with up to four layers of concentric bricks in round and oval shapes. Come and find out the politics that led to their construction, where those sewers were and how many of them are still in operation today.

Missus Victoria’s Sons: Around the World with the British Army 1837-1901

Lance D. Jones, Administrator at Regis University, Museum Teacher Fellow at United States Holocaust Memorial Museum

The sun never set on the British Empire, and the red-coated soldiers who policed it spread their culture and mores where they went and brought those of the lands where they served home to Britain.  This session gives a brief look at the lands and wars of the Victorian Era, and the attitudes of “Tommy Atkins,” the British soldier of the times.

Building a Star:How a 1935 Palmer Lake project to boost spirits from the Great Depression became a Colorado State Historic Site

Jane Sloan Potts, amateur historian, Board member at The Colorado Independent

In Colorado people either have never heard of the town of Palmer Lake or do know about it because of“The Star”.The Star refers to the nearly 500’ illuminated, five-pointed star built in 1935 on the steep, shale slope of Sundance Mountain, making it the largest illuminated star in the U.S. Each year since from Thanksgiving to New Year’s Day The Star has been illuminated every evening and can be seen from I-25 two miles away and in photos, books and memorabilia all over town. The Star was the work of B.E. Jack and Bert Sloan.

Join this session as Bert’s daughter shares the story of how Bert’s friends and his dog Dizzy climbed Sundance Mountain to build The Star. The session will include a re-enactment video, physical details of the star then and now, and photos.

Historical Tourism in Jefferson County Colorado

Lee Katherine Goldstein, Chair of the Jefferson County Historical Commission

Historically, the foothills of Jefferson County have offered Denver residents and others in the region a myriad of tourist attractions, including funicular railways, burro rides, dance halls and mountain parks. Come hear about Jefferson County’s rich tourism history.

Booms & Busts of Western Colorado

Priscilla Mangnall, President of the Mesa County Historical Society

The citizens of Western Colorado have survived nearly a century and a half by using the opportunities of the local booms and busts. Find out what has come and gone and what has flourished and remained.

From Suffrage to Second-Wave Feminism: How Women Rocked the Vote

Andrea Malcomb, Museum Director and Heather Pressman, Director of Learning & Engagement, Molly Brown House Museum

Nationwide our foremothers demanded and finally achieved the right to vote in 1920 with passage of the 19th Amendment – twenty-seven years after Colorado women gained that right and a remarkable seventy-two years after the Seneca Falls convention. As U.S. sites prepare to commemorate the centennial of women’s suffrage, let’s examine how it was achieved, who were the key suffragists in Colorado, who it excluded, and how subsequent legislation also addressed voter inequality. We’ll rock out and rock the vote out together as we look at how these milestones contributed to subsequent calls for equal rights by waves of women well into the 1970s.

The Lasting Legacy of Western Women: Part 2

Jamie Melissa Wilms, Executive Director & Chief Curator, Denver Firefighters Museum
Facebook: @denverfirefightersmuseum; Twitter: @dfdmuseum; Instagram: @dfdmuseum

Expanding on part 1 from 2017, this presentation will continue to look at those Western Women are often overlooked in history books or given a short paragraph of mention. This presentation will explore the women who helped to shape and save the west, forged a path for their future daughters, and left a lasting legacy on generations to follow. Explore the history of the strong women who helped to build the west!

The War at Home: From Turnout Gear to Combat Boots

Sarah Crocker, Associate Director of Education & Exhibits, Denver Firefighters Museum

During World War II, many Coloradans left to fight overseas. In Denver, many firefighters enlisted as well, doing their patriotic duty but leaving a very active fire department still serving the city. Learn more about what wartime was like for citizens and firefighters in Denver.

Annie Oakley, Setting the Record Straight

Elsa Wolff, Living history and Chautauqua performer

A Living History presentation: Annie Oakley of Buffalo Bill’s Wild West.

The year is 1917 and Mrs. Frank Butler (aka Annie Oakley) will be speaking casually to friends, remembering her years with the Wild West and recounting other memories. Q&A time included.

The Treasures of Roxborough

Char Nauman, President, and Flo Tonelli, Vice President, Roxborough Area Historical Society

Over time the Roxborough area has been home to a large diversity of people from Native Americans to miners to rocket scientists.  Join us as we unfold the treasures in the Roxborough area with an emphasis on the town of “Silika” and the brick factory that supported the town in the early 1900s.

Downtown Littleton’s Historic Main Street Tour

By members of Historic Littleton, Inc.’s Board Historic Littleton, Inc

Special session – walking tour

What building on Main Street used to be a doctor’s office where more than 1000 babies were delivered?  How many theaters used to be on Main Street?

Get answers to these burning questions and learn a lot more about Main Street when you take a walking tour of Littleton’s downtown historic district.  You’ll hear stories about the people and places important in Littleton’s early history, find out about trains and streetcar transportation in Littleton and much more.

General George Custer: A Fighting Wolverine in the Civil War & Beyond

George Koukeas, freelance writer and speaker

General George A. Custer’s Civil War exploits made him a national hero in his own time. Yet, researchers have often-times viewed his situation at the Little Big Horn in isolation from his Civil War record. That has led to misjudgments about Custer’s leadership style. 

This eye-opening presentation will primarily focus on General Custer’s lesser known contributions to familiar Civil War battles. It will show how Custer led his Michigan Brigade to numerous victories, why he was so effective at combat, how he led his “Wolverines” and how that helped his rise in rank and status. These facts will offer insights about Custer, as man and as warrior. 

The talk’s conclusion will use the facts from Custer’s Civil War background to disprove commonly held myths about Custer’s actions and attitudes at the Little Big Horn.

“No sir, my husband did not do this work!” – Martha Maxwell, Naturalist, Artist and Taxidermist

Barbara (BJ) Schwendler, certified naturalist interpretive guide and western history buff who portrays women in history

Martha Maxwell (1831-1881) wanted to be known as a naturalist, artist and taxidermist, in that order! Much to her chagrin, she was touted by the press of the time as a “Diana” and “Huntress” because she killed, tanned, and displayed hundreds of species of birds and mammals of the Colorado territory in their natural settings. Many were amazed that a woman could do what she claimed! They missed the fact, however, that she was an experienced and mostly self-taught scientist of the natural world who expertly used taxidermy to share her love and knowledge of Western animals most people had never seen or even knew of. She even discovered a new sub-species of owl which was named after her by the Smithsonian!

Pioneers in the Denver Basin Area

Douglas Cohn, member of Englewood Historic Preservation Society

In 1858 something happened in this area that would become the Colorado that changed the course of American History. Gold was found on Little Dry Creek by William Green Russell. That discovery sparked the second gold rush and opened the “Great American Desert” for settlement. No one lived in the Denver basin in 1858 but within 6 months 40,000 people migrated here and within a year 100,000 made the journey. Besides the miners, farmers like the Little brothers in Littleton, the Browns, Tom Skerritt, Potato Clark, and Peter Magnus began to supply food to the miners.

Margaret Brown Fighting for Children’s Rights in Colorado

Janet Kalstrom, Volunteer at The Molly Brown House Museum

We take pride and go to all lengths to protect and support our children. Margaret Brown, having children herself, was very passionate about protecting her children as well as the children in the late 1800s from harm and unfairness in the judicial system. Please join Margaret in this first-person discussion about her experience regarding children’s rights and the milestones in Colorado history to keep children safe.

Mary Elitch: Pioneer “Angel” of Denver’s Music

Stephanie Baker, Adjunct faculty, AIMS Community College; AuthorSongs of Silver and Gold: A Short History of Music in Colorado (Independently published, 2018)

In 1891, Mary Elitch became the owner of Elitch Gardens Amusement Park in Denver.  Her love of music led her to institute a summer orchestra in 1891. For almost a decade, this was the only established orchestra in Denver and provided a highly desired form of entertainment. It was a catalyst in the establishment of other orchestras in the area. We usually think of Elitch’s as a place to have fun in the summer and ride exciting rides but in its early years, it was much more! Mary, herself, is a fascinating personality and contributed much to Denver and Colorado.

Really old Colorado History! 150 million years ago there were dinosaurs in the Denver area…

Doug Hartshorn, Museum Coordinator, Morrison Natural History Museum

Imagine Morrison, Colorado 150 million years ago. There were no mountains, braided rivers flowed from the nearest mountains in Nevada and deposited sediments over a vast flood plain. The bones of some of the most iconic dinosaurs found anywhere in the world were buried in Morrison. Tyrannosaurus rex, Stegosaurus and Apatosaurus to name a few. Starting in 1878, Arthur Lakes began shipping tons of fossil-bearing Morrison sandstone back to the Yale Peabody Museum of Natural History at Yale College. His finds astonished the paleontological community around the planet.

Join me for a review of the changing environments and animals in Colorado over the last 150 million years. You will get to see and touch some of the fossils found in Morrison. Learn about Arthur Lakes, Professor Othniel Charles Marsh and other characters involved in the famous “Bone Wars.” Dinosaurs and people do come together in Morrison.

Spreading the Love of History Through Games

Robin Hayutin, Executive Director, LearningPlunge and Colorado Native and Alan Fishel, Creator of GeoPlunge and HistoryPlunge games, Founder & President of LearningPlunge.  Website:, Instagram:, Facebook:, Twitter handle: @geoplunge

What started out as a hobby to create games 15 years ago has turned into a fun and engaging way to educate students about U.S. history and geography. When we took our first game GeoPlunge into a Washington, D.C. classroom 15 years ago, nobody in the entire 6th grade class had heard of the neighboring state of Maryland. This was not entirely surprising given the finding by the National Assessment of Educational Progress that only 27% of 8th graders are proficient in U.S. geography and even worse only 18% are proficient in U.S. history. Fast forward just a couple of months, and these same students were rattling off the states, capitals, rankings in terms of order they came into the Union, size, population and more. After seeing this play out, we collaborated with the Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery to use this same model to create a U.S. history game covering 1492 – present. Through a variety of race, strategy, and trivia games, students learn about the Presidents and what occurred during each administration, dates of important events, and over 4,000 facts about U.S. history, including many facts about Colorado history. Join us as we discuss what we have learned about engaging students at all levels, from gifted to those performing below milestones in the classroom, through interactive games and a tournament structure and how using some of these strategies can help spread the love of U.S. history.

Inconvenient Founders: Thomas Young and the forgotten disrupters of the Revolution

Scott Nadler, Checkered 45-year career in politics, government, industry, consulting and academics. Fascination with the topic came from the disconnect between what university history taught about the Revolution and what hands-on experience in political organizing showed., Twitter @NadlerScott

For all we study the “Founders”, we overlook the most interesting and maybe most important people: the disruptors, the organizers, the agitators who tore down British rule and created the openings for the Founders. By looking at one agitator in particular – Thomas Young, maybe the Zelig of the Revolution – we get a tour of the Revolution from the bottom up, a tale that connects up Ethan Allen, the Boston Massacre, the Tea Party, the Declaration of Independence – and ends in censure! Not your usual Founders…

Apollo 11’s Return to Earth (Hand Me the Manual and Let’s See How We’re Gonna Stop This Thing)

Tom Thayer, Tom Thayer, a retired Aeronautical Engineer, spent 42 years on various phases of satellite technology, including launch trajectories, satellite design and development, mission planning and operations. On the Apollo Program during the mid-60s he was on a team planning the atmospheric reentry of the Command Module following return from the Moon. Now he volunteers at the Wings Over the Rockies Museum in the restoration department.

This is the year we celebrated the 50th anniversary of man’s first trip to the Moon. Apollo 11 was heralded as the fulfillment of a command by President Kennedy that a safe round trip should be completed by the end of the 1960s decade. Most people know that part of the story, especially the part about going to the Moon. The return trip? As the saying goes, “not so much”. Therefore, we’ll shed some light on this part of the mission, including some of the things not generally known . . . you know, the gee whiz stuff.

To say we started from scratch is mostly true; however, we relied on some early “specialists” to get us started. We’ll follow a path through history naming these contributors and their gifts to science. We’ll also take a stab at describing what it was like during those heady days in Houston when the work was long but new and fun, tools were being developed as we worked, and no question was out of bounds. Teamwork, peer review and critical thinking were a must. Mistakes were to be avoided because we didn’t have time to do it twice.

Prostitution in Denver

Kathryn Ordway, Adjunct Professor at Red Rocks Community College, and AuthorColorado’s Rodeo Roots to Modern-day Cowboys (Donning Co Pub, 2004)

A brief history of prostitution in Denver, including some of its more infamous madams such as Jennie Rogers and Maddie Silks.   I will also delve into the events surrounding “Strangler’s Row” a series of murders that took place on Market Street.

Mapping Amache Internment Camp with GIS, Drone Imagery and 3D

Jim Casey, GIS professional, supporter of nonprofit organizations, FAA licensed drone operator, technologist and Alumni of D.U. with a Master’s in GIS;; Mapping Amache

I will describe my experience since 2010 mapping Amache Internment Camp, a National Historic Landmark. I’ve used various methods including traditional survey data converted to GIS, GPS data capture and finally the use of drones to capture imagery and generate 3D renderings of structures which are standing and (working on) those which are now gone. 

This will cover aspects of history, field work, GIS, photogrammetry, GPS, drones and the use of all of this technology for the goal of preserving history and rebuilding this site in a way that can be experienced virtually and via the internet.

The Amazing Ivy Baldwin

Jack Ballard, Historian, Professor, former president of Friends of Historic Fort Logan

The session presents the life of one of America’s premier aerialists, tightrope walkers, balloonists, and aviation pioneers.  Baldwin achieved celebrity status and had some amazing and daring performances from coast to coast and in the Far East and Mexico.  At Colorado’s Fort Logan, he was the Army’s principal balloonist.  He became a pioneer aviator first flying balloons, then dirigibles, and finally aircraft.  In the Denver area, he became famous for his acts at Elitch’s Gardens amusement park and tightrope walking across canyons.

The Civilian Conservation Corps in Colorado, 1933-1942; The Bad, the Good and the Beautiful 

Robert Audretsch, retired from the National Park Service in 2009 and since then has devoted himself full time to researching and writing about the CCC. He is the author of more than a dozen books and journal articles about the CCC.

The Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) gave hope to youth with 25% employment in 1933. Many quit school to work odd jobs to support their families. Other took to riding the railroads desperate for new opportunities. Then in 1933 young men from poor families could get work on the state’s public lands such as national parks and state parks. They planted trees, built trails and fought forest fires. Today we still use roads and trails they built. In 1942 when the program ended over 30,000 Colorado men served doing work in nearly every county in the state.

A Small Treason, 1944 

William Sonn, Bill Sonn is an author (Paradigms Lost: the life and deaths of the printed word; Rowman and Littlefield, 2006) and, in his freelance days, a widely published journalist.  Twitter: @wsonn2

This is a look at the only U.S. soldier convicted of treason on U.S, and the group of misfit soldiers he led into plans to conduct a guerrilla war to disrupt the American war effort. Marked by not a few almost-comic mistakes, the leaders were eventually court-martialed and given long prison sentences. One was sentenced to hang.

Fifteen years later, all were successful businessmen, albeit with secrets to keep.

We’ll discuss how some very smart people came to sympathize with Nazi Germany, the backbiting over who got to run U.S. counter-intelligence, German POW camps here in Colorado and, not least, the nature of forgiveness in postwar America.


The 2019 t-shirt commemorates the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing.



History Camp is an independent event.  Arapahoe Community College is not involved in any aspect of the content and isn’t a sponsor or endorser.