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Wyoming State Archives to host series of historical talks in July

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Wyoming State Archives Sponsors Three Talks in July on Wyoming’s Hidden History

This July, the Wyoming State Archives will host a series of talks featuring Wyoming authors sharing fascinating stories in the history of our state. 

How much do you know about Wyoming’s World War II POW camps, or that the world’s first stewardesses were here in Wyoming, or the real history of how I-80 was located in a winter weather maelstrom?  Each author has based their talk on exhaustive research at the State Archives and other collections across the state.  These presentations are part of a delayed celebration of American Archives Month (normally held in October). 

All talks will be held in the State Museum Classroom, at 7:00 p.m.  All are free and open to the public. Socially distanced seating will be available. Each talk will be livestreamed on Facebook.  The Museum Store will also be open to purchase the books each night and the authors will sign copies.

On Monday, July 12 Cheryl O’Brien will give a talk based on her recent publication, “World War II POW Camps of Wyoming.”  She will reveal what she discovered about Wyoming’s nineteen prisoner of war camps, which held several thousand Italian and German prisoners during World War II.  She has found this little-known history in documents, photographs, and personal stories shared by camp residents.  Maybe you’ve heard that there were POW camps in the state but never knew the full story?  Now is your chance to find out more.

O’Brien grew up in the Hudson Valley in New York State and enjoyed a career with the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation before relocating to Wyoming in 2002.

On Tuesday July 13, Mike Kassel, co-director of the Cheyenne Frontier Days Old West Museum, will present his history of stewardess training in our Capitol City.  Boeing Airlines began a brief training program in Cheyenne in 1930, (making them the first airline stewardesses in the world) which was followed in 1947 when United Air Lines established its Stewardess Training Center in Cheyenne, operating for nearly two decades.  Kassel’s talk will be based on research for “Wyoming’s Friendly Skies, Training America’s First Stewardesses,” co-authored with Starley Talbott.

Did you know many of the first flight attendants were nurses, recruited to “alleviate passengers' concerns” about flying?  There’s lots more to learn – and recall – about Cheyenne’s role in early commercial flying.

It may be summer now, but you know snow covered highways are just around the corner.  How did the famous corridor of I-80 end up in its current location?  Join us on Wednesday, July 14th to hear archivist and historian John Waggener explain that history, based on research for his popular book, “Snow Chi Minh Trail:  The History of Interstate 80 Between Laramie and Walcott Junction.”

Waggener details the history of that 77-mile, I-80 stretch of highway, which became a public relations nightmare for Wyoming highway officials. Were highway officials warned that adverse weather conditions on this stretch made the location inadvisable?  What had Wyomingites learned from attempting to build a railroad line on this route?  Why is it called “a monument to human error”?

A fifth generation Wyomingite, Waggener was born and raised in the I-80 town of Green River. Since 2001, he has been a faculty archivist at the American Heritage Center at the University of Wyoming.

 

The Wyoming State Archives is a unit of the Wyoming Department of  State Parks and Cultural Resources.  The State Archives collects, manages, preserves, and makes available Wyoming state public records that have long term administrative, legal, and historical value documenting the history of our state and the activities of Wyoming’s government offices. The Archives also collects non-government records that contribute to an understanding of the state’s history.  For more information on these events, please contact Kathy Marquis, State Archivist at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it." style="color: rgb(17, 85, 204);" target="_blank">This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., or 307-777-8691.