Previous Special Events

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Americans are familiar with Civil War land battles—but much less so with the war at sea, from the development of ironclad warships and submarines to the more mundane naval blockade that created economic starvation in the South.

On the 150th anniversary of the Confederates’ loss of the CSS Hunley—which had been the first combat Submarine to sink an enemy warship—John T. Kuehn of the U.S. Army Command and General Staff College examines the largely underappreciated role that naval warfare played in the Civil War. Kuehn, a former Navy aviator, is the author of two books on the Pacific theater in World War II and another on the military history of Japan.


Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Veteran re-enactor Charles Everett Pace brings his one man show to Kansas City to portray prominent abolitionist and social reformer Frederick Douglass.

Born enslaved in 1818, Douglass successfully escaped from bondage in 1838 and quickly rose to the front ranks of leading abolitionists, becoming the most famous black American of his day. In the years leading up to the Civil War, his incisive anti-slavery writings and mesmerizing speeches reached broad audiences in the United States and the British Isles. Following emancipation, Douglass continued to lecture and write on civil rights issues, including women’s rights and desegregation. He wrote several versions of his autobiography between 1845 and 1892.


Tuesday, February 18, 2014
6:30pm @ Plaza Branch

Well before the famous 1969 Stonewall Riots in New York City sparked the modern gay rights movement, Kansas City had its own active gay rights community that was a meaningful participant in the larger national movement. Post-Stonewall, the city’s emerging gay and lesbian community strove to provide venues and services to address the growing needs of its members.

Stuart Hinds, head of the LaBudde Special Collections at the UMKC Libraries; Kevin Scharlau, History PhD. candidate at UMKC; and attorney Kay Madden hold a lively discussion of the history of LGBT advocacy in the Kansas City area.


Sunday, February 16, 2014

Murderers. Mob bosses. Anarchists. Bootleggers. Thieves. They’ve all found a home at the U.S. Penitentiary at Leavenworth, Kansas, regarded for many years as the ultimate high-security prison.

Now their stories are told by the National Archives’ Jake Ersland in an exploration of the Archives’ “Record Group 129,” the inmate case files for the Leavenworth penitentiary. Ersland gives an illustrated lecture on the history of these valuable research files and the untold stories they contain, many with a Kansas City connection.


Sunday, February 16, 2014
1:30pm @ Plaza Branch

The most famous movie about Paris was shot in Culver City, California. Indeed, An American in Paris sums up Hollywood in its Golden Era: Why bother with the real and true when the make-believe is so much more satisfying? This joyous celebration of music and dance ultimately becomes high art when, in its audacious final 16 minutes, it delivers a dazzling wordless ballet that brought out the best in choreographer/star Gene Kelly and director Vincente Minnelli.


Friday, February 14, 2014
6:30pm @ Plaza Branch

Join vocalist and storyteller Brother John as he pays tribute to the likes of Duke Ellington, Ella Fitzgerald, and Lena Horne in an exploration of the golden age of swing jazz.


Thursday, February 13, 2014

The installation of ultra-high-speed Google Fiber internet service in Kansas City is well underway. But what will it mean to residents day to day on a practical level?

That question will be addressed in an event exploring the future of hyper-fast internet applications and the innovations spurred by its implementation here.


Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Was John Wilkes Booth truly the mastermind behind the assassination of President Abraham Lincoln and the plot to murder other members of his administration, or were other more powerful forces pulling the strings behind the scenes?

Blending real and fictional characters, lawyer-turned-author David O. Stewart commemorates Lincoln’s Birthday with a discussion of his new work of historical fiction, The Lincoln Deception. Superbly researched and brilliantly plotted, this thoroughly gripping mystery explores one of the nation’s darkest and most fascinating eras and the conspiracy that changed world history.


Sunday, February 9, 2014
1:30pm @ Plaza Branch

A free series of films by Alfred Hitchcock who used film to explore his own neuroses and phobias, in the process revealing the psychological complexities we all share.

Often cited as one of Hitchcock’s finest films, Rear Window may also be his most fully realized and psychologically intriguing. A photographer (James Stewart), confined to his Greenwich Village apartment with a broken leg, uses his telephoto lens to spy on the lives of his many neighbors. This meditation on voyeurism turns deadly when the snoop uncovers evidence of a murder. Grace Kelly makes her first appearance in a Hitchcock movie.


Friday, February 7, 2014
6:30pm @ Plaza Branch

Magician Tommy Terrific celebrates the great trumpeter, singer, and jazz pioneer Louis Armstrong and performs magic tricks inspired by his most popular songs, including “Hello, Dolly!” and “When the Saints Come Marching In.”