The Department of History sponsors two public lecture series that bring leading scholars to Memphis to make presentations that are open to the public.
These lectures are included in the series of lectures sponsored by the Marcus W. Orr Center for the Humanities. The Department of History frequently co-sponsors other lectures in that series.
Belle McWilliams Lecture Series
The Belle McWilliams Lecture Series began in 1980 with a bequest from Major Benjamin Schultze and his sister Mrs. Louise Fellows. They named the fund in honor of Miss Belle McWilliams, their aunt and guardian, “who for 40 years taught American History in the Memphis Public School system.” Besides the lecture series, the fund supports the Belle McWilliams Scholarships and other activities of the department.
Speakers in the Belle McWilliams Lecture Series have included Donald G. Matthews, Bill Malone, Don Higginbotham, Carroll Smith-Rosenberg, Dan Carter, Robert Remini, Kathryn Kish Sklar, Dewey Grantham, Edward Pessen, Roderick Nash, Jack Temple Kirby, Kenneth Jackson, John Keegan, Sean Wilentz, Jean Friedman, Christopher Lasch, Barbara J. Fields, Marion Creekmore. Linda Kerber, Robert Coles, Bertram Wyatt-Brown, Carl Degler, Anne Firor Scott, David Goldfield, Stephen Ambrose, Linda Gordon, Jason H. Silverman, Shelby Foote, Susanne Lebsock, Virginia Yans, David Chappell, Waldo Martin, Tera Hunter, David W. Blight, Wilma King, Michael Bertrand, Robert Archibald, Steven Hahn, Char Miller, Laurie B. Green, Emily Yellin, Edward Larson, Rick Atkinson, Eric Foner, Isabel Wilkerson, Anthony Badger, and Danielle McGuire.
Memphis Sesquicentennial Lecture Series
The Memphis Sesquicentennial Lecture Series began in the late 1980s with the bequest to the Department of some medallions made in honor of the 150th anniversary of the founding of Memphis. Because the Belle McWilliams Lecture Series was dedicated to the subject of American history, the Memphis Sesquicentennial Lecture Series has concentrated on other areas.
Speakers in the Memphis Sesquicentennial Lecture Series have included Charles D. Hamilton, Herbert Bloch, John Bridgeman, David Loades, Thomas A. Brady, Joseph C. Miller, Sarah Pomeroy, Robert Drews, Merrick Posnansky, Mary Louise Roberts, Richard G. Hovannisian, Herbert Braun, Claudia Koonz, Donald Kyle, Barbara Newman, James Gelvin, Jeremy Adelman, Timothy Snyder, Marshall Poe, Laurent Dubois, and Alan Karras.