The History Channelers

Mr. Peabody had the advantage. He and Sherman could just hop into the WayBack machine if they wanted to chat with some of history's best and brightest. For the rest of us, it's just not so easy. We can try to marry a beautiful nose-wiggling witch or sit huddled in front of our ham radios waiting for freak sunspot activity, but who wants to do that? It is just impossible to get any quality one-on-one time with some historical notables like buffalo soldiers or mountain men these days. That is, until now. The Arizona Historical Society Museum in Papago Park is hosting free living history performances every Saturday throughout the months of July and August.

You can visit the museum's newest exhibit, "Traces," which chronicles the role that Arizona played in World War II, or have a conversation with some of Arizona's most colorful historical characters from suffragists to Flying Tigers, and you don't have to spend a dime. At 1:30 p.m. Saturday, July 22, meet one of Arizona's own Flying Tigers, who will describe his experiences battling the Japanese over the skies of China during World War II. At the same time on Saturday, July 29, you can meet Frances Willard Munds, horsewoman, teacher, suffragist and legislator who helped bring Arizona women the vote in 1912. Later that same afternoon you can hear colorful tales of Arizona's fur trade as told by an Old West mountain man.

On Saturday, August 5, cowboy musician, writer, artist and Deputy U.S. Marshal Jack Allen will entertain visitors and share his experiences with Arizona's great musical heritage. This performance, like all of the others, is at 1:30 p.m. Lieutenant Henry Flipper describes his trials as the first African-American graduate from the U.S. Military Academy and his experiences as a buffalo soldier during the Apache Wars on Saturday, August 12. The following Saturday, August 19, will find early civil rights worker Addie May Carter recounting her journey to Arizona from Mississippi and the personal and public triumphs she experienced in the 1960s. Rounding out the series on Saturday, August 26, you can meet famed poetess, magazine writer and editor and territorial historian Sharlot Hall, who will share her unusual life that chronicles Arizona's history from bustling territory to robust state. "This is a great way to get out of the summer heat and enjoy some of our history," says Gwen Robinson, head of the education department at the Arizona Historical Society. "The performers are all independent contractors that have been associated with the society for a number of years." They perform all around the state for schools, nonprofit groups and business seminars, bringing the history of our state alive. Now you can see them by just visiting the Arizona Historical Society Museum any Saturday afternoon for the next two months.

The Arizona Historical Society Museum is located at 1300 North College in Tempe. Hours: 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Mondays through Saturdays, noon to 4 p.m. Sundays. For details call 480-929-0292.

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James Ward