2023 Regional History Symposium

History Symposium 2023

Download the Symposium's program sheet

Art, Artists, & Entertainers

Experience interesting research and knowledge about our local history at the 20th Annual Pikes Peak Regional History Symposium. This year’s theme is Art, Artists, & Entertainers. Artists and their creativity are at the heart of a region’s culture. The Pikes Peak region, with plentiful natural beauty, serves as a rich wellspring of inspiration. Presenters, selected from proposals submitted by academics, researchers, and the general public, will explore the artists and entertainers that have left a rich legacy in the Pikes Peak region.

Film Festival

Sat., May 20 | 11 a.m. - noon

Penrose Library  
Click here to register 

Three short films, "Boardman Robinson: The Teacher", "Henry A. Clausen: The Danish American Wonder”, and "Not Quite Hollywood: The Alexander Film Company’s 'Anatomy of a Psycho'" tell three stories about local artists and their impact on the Pikes Peak Region.

  • Boardman Robinson, The Teacher  
    by Jim Sawatzki

    This chapter from the documentary, Rarefied Air: Historic Artists of the Pikes Peak Region looks at the life of Boardman Robinson, cofounder and first instructor at the Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center. Through interviews with artists, family, historians, and former students of Boardman Robinson, the film brings to life Robinson’s journey from New York to Colorado Springs. The documentary spans his friendship with Elizabeth Hare and Julie Penrose, his rise to become “the thread between the Broadmoor Academy and the new Fine Arts Center school,” and finally to his years in financial destitution. His artwork, much of which can still be seen in Colorado Springs today, is featured throughout the film.

    About the Filmmaker

    Jim Sawatzki is a Telly-Award-winning and Emmy-nominated producer/director. He has been documenting Front Range Colorado history since 1992. His work has been featured on regional PBS affiliates, local cable channels and nationally shown on A&E's Biography channel. A graduate of Michigan State University, Jim offers video and slide presentations to schools, libraries, and organizations.  

  • Henry A. Clausen: “The Danish American Wonder"  
    by Joanna Gonzalez

    This documentary takes you through the colorful life of Henry A. Clausen through stories shared by his children. He was an influential and intellectual bohemian man that contradicted the stereotype of other professional wrestlers. A true entertainer and man of many talents in the Pikes Peak region, his athletic physique inspired and allowed many artists to bring their artistic visions to life and his appreciation for art & literature brought people together in the community. Later, his bookstore would serve not only as a place to acquire rare and used books but also as a gathering place for local writers, artists, and musicians to have deep philosophical discussions and debates.

    About the Filmmaker

    Joanna M. Gonzalez is a full-time student and works for the Veterans Writing Community as a videographer. She served for six years in the United States Air Force as dental technician and is currently pursuing a degree in Human Physiology and Nutrition at the UCCS (University of Colorado Colorado Springs). She was selected to present her videography work at CSURF (Colorado Springs Undergraduate Research Forum.) She is driven to help others tell their stories and gain experience in historical videography.  

  • Not Quite Hollywood: The Alexander Film Company’s “Anatomy of a Psycho”  
    by John Jarrell

    This short documentary looks at the history of local success, Alexander Film Company, through the lens of its biggest flop: Anatomy of a Psycho, the only feature film ever produced by the studio. Although Alexander Films had decades of experience in commercial productions, and its technical know-how and studio space translated well to a feature-length film, Anatomy’s direction and script (with credit given to the infamous Ed Wood) ended any chance that the studio would compete with Hollywood, even if we ended up with a local cult classic.

    About the Filmmaker

    John Jarrell is the Regional History & Genealogy Program Coordinator at Pikes Peak Library District (PPLD). He earned a M.A. in American History with a focus on political and social history. John moved to Colorado Springs in 2013 when he began working as a math interventionist in Harrison School District 2. John has worked at PPLD since 2017 and is involved in various forms of community organizing throughout his residence in the city  

In-person Symposium

Sat., June 10 | 10 a.m. - 1 p.m.

East Library | *Doors open at 9:30 a.m.  
Click here to register


  • 9:30 a.m. | Doors open
  • 10 a.m. | Welcome and introduction
  • 10 - 11:15 a.m. | Presentations (3) Each presentation is scheduled for 20 minutes
  • 11:15 - 11:45 a.m. | Coffee Break Coffee and refreshments provided
  • 11:45 a.m. - 12:30 p.m. | Presentations (2) Each presentation is scheduled for 20 minutes 12:30 - 1 p.m. | Questions and Answers  
  • Loo’s Artists: The Talent Behind the Designs of Current, Inc. and Looart  
    by Hillary Mannion  

    The Loo Collection at the Colorado Springs Pioneers Museum documents the Loo family of Colorado Springs and the growth and success of Looart Press and Current, Inc. over the span of nearly seven decades. Through original art, ephemera, photographs, oral histories, and correspondences from this important collection, this presentation will share stories of the artists behind the success of Current, Inc. and Looart.

    About the Presenter

    Hillary Mannion is the Archivist at the Starsmore Center for Local History, the archives, and special collections department of the Colorado Springs Pioneers Museum. She graduated with a B.A. in History from the State University of New York at Fredonia and an M.A. in Museum Studies with a concentration in American Studies from George Washington University. Hillary has worked within a diverse set of archival and object collections throughout her career. This includes work at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History, the White House Historical Association, Colorado College’s Southwest Collection, and the Bob Moog Foundation.  

  • Mid-Century Tensions in the Art of Larry Heller  
    by Rhonda Goodman-Gaghan

    The art of Larry Heller (1905 - 1983) exemplifies the American West of the mid-twentieth century. Through an examination of his landscapes, portraits of women, and World War II posters, this essay illustrates how Heller was influenced by his studies on artistic movements such as the Hudson River School, the Rocky Mountain School, and Modernism, as well as by his association with the Broadmoor Art Academy and his work with the Alexander Film Company. The paper argues that Heller’s art conveys a tension between an idealized past and the rocky reality of the middle decades of the 1900s.

    About the Presenter

    Rhonda Goodman-Gaghan is the Assistant Director and Curator at the UCCS Heller Center for Arts & Humanities. She holds a Master’s in Early American Culture from the Winterthur Program, a Master’s in History from Villanova University, and a Bachelor’s from Williams College. Her current research highlights Pueblo Revival Architecture, the Indigenous People of Colorado Springs, and local, state, and regional history.  

  • Peter, James, John, Rose, and Dorothy: The Palmer Families' Transatlantic Artistic Friendships  
    by Susan Fletcher

    William, Queen, Elsie, Dorothy, and Marjory Palmer cultivated relationships with writers and painters in Colorado and Europe. These friendships had a profound impact upon the cultural life of the Pikes Peak region. The presentation will examine these friendships through the lens of four works of art that have ties to the region: Rose Kingsley’s book, South by West; John Singer Sargent’s portrait, Miss Elsie Palmer; Peter Harrison’s painting, The Garden of the Gods; and watercolorist Dorothy Comyns Carr’s diary from her visit to Glen Eyrie in 1902.

    About the Presenter

    Susan Fletcher is a local historian and award-winning writer. She serves as the Director of History and Archives for The Navigators and Glen Eyrie. She is also the founder and CEO of History Joy Consulting, an archives and museum consulting firm. Fletcher earned her M.A. in History from Indiana University – Purdue University Indianapolis. She is the author of Exploring Childhood and Play Through 50 Historic Treasures, one of Booklist Magazine's top ten sports books of 2020. It was also a winner in the 2020 Colorado Authors League Awards of Excellence. She is also the author of Light and Life: First Presbyterian Church at 150, and the co-author of The Glen Eyrie Story and Dawson Trotman in His Own Words.  

  • Reframing Colorado Springs:  
    The Pikes Peak Lavender Film Festival and the Memory of Amendment 2  
    by John Jarrell

    The Pikes Peak Lavender Film Festival was an LGBT film festival hosted from 2000 - 2011. Film Festival Director Alma Cremonesi’s vision was to supplant Amendment 2’s influence on outside perspectives of Colorado Springs. The presentation will cover LGBTQ+ activism in Colorado Springs from the 1980s, Amendment 2, its aftermath in the 1990s, and finally, the rise and fall of the film festival beginning in 2000.  

    About the Presenter  
    John Jarrell is the Regional History & Genealogy Program Coordinator at Pikes Peak Library District (PPLD). He earned an M.A. in American History with a focus on political and social history. John moved to Colorado Springs in 2013 when he began working as a math interventionist in Harrison School District 2. He has worked at PPLD since 2017 and is involved in various forms of community organization throughout his residence in the city.

  • Ernestine Parsons: More Than the Artist You Didn’t Know You Knew  
    by Doris McCraw

    Ernestine Parsons is best known to most as a teacher of history at Colorado Springs High School, later known as Palmer High School. What people may not remember is her work on behalf of women’s rights and her work with the arts community and as an artist.

    About the Presenter

    Doris McCraw has always been intrigued by the stories of others. From an early age she was always an eager listener. She started performing for audiences at the age of two and a half and has continued since that time. Her passion for history and historic characters began when she was writing her one-woman show, based on the history of her family and the region where she grew up. After the premiere of that show, Doris began telling the stories of Colorado, the Pikes Peak region, and Colorado Springs.

Virtual Symposium

Mon., June 12 | 7 p.m.  
Zoom link will be provided after registration

Click here to register

  • The Colorado Springs Civic Players: When Broadway Met Our Town  
    by Katherine Scott Sturdevant and Rick W. Sturdevant

    In the mid-twentieth century, Colorado Springs hosted a remarkable, colorfully-theatrical population who, with the Fine Arts Center and other venues, developed a respectable representation of Broadway at the base of Pikes Peak. This presentation will share the earliest colorful origins of this city’s Broadway roots and glory days, as well as the rich, social history that its historical collection represents.

    About the Presenter

    Katherine Scott Sturdevant is Senior Professor of History at Pikes Peak State College, where she has taught and served in many roles for more than 30 years. Rick W. Sturdevant, PhD, joined the U.S. Air Force History & Museums Program in 1984 and has been Space Force Training and Readiness Command (STARCOM) Director of History since November 2021. Both have participated in the Pikes Peak Library District Symposia and contributed to most of the resulting Regional History Series publications since their inception.

  • The Flapper became the Life of the Party: The Jazz Age in Colorado Springs  
    by Chris Nicholl

    “Dancing in the high school building will not be tolerated in the future, according to an order posted in the building yesterday morning by Prof. William S. Roe. Students have been in the habit of using the cafeteria, spending their idle hours mastering new steps," it is said.” From its earliest days, Colorado Springs’ society enjoyed dances and dancing but suddenly new, troublesome, steps were being introduced in the High School. Whether Professor Roe knew it or not, his order announced that the Jazz Age had come to Colorado Springs.

    About the Presenter

    Chris Nicholl holds an M.A. in history. She was a Senior Library Associate in the Special Collections Department of Pikes Peak Library District and served as a co-organizer of the Pikes Peak Regional History Symposium since its founding in 2003.

  • Original Jewelers of Colorado Springs 1895 - 1910: Their Titles and What They Offered  
    by Lyndsey Rieple

    During the Pikes Peak Gold Rush, Colorado Springs flourished and grew dramatically. This presentation details the original jewelers of the area and what they were selling. Rieple will address questions like: Did they make the jewelry? Did they use gold from the Rush? Were they reselling goods manufactured in Rhode Island and New York?

    About the Presenter

    Lyndsey went full-time with her jewelry business in August of 2021 after nine years of working for other jewelry retailers while pursuing her business on the side. In her original work as an illustrator, drawer, and mural artist, she replicated a Works Progress Administration (WPA) mural for the Denton County Courthouse Museum. She also worked in the archives at Alfred, NY, as well as the Bayless-Selby House in Denton, Texas. She particularly values context which comes through story, community, and history.