Anne Frank, Bruce Springsteen and Virginia-born technology pioneer Gladys West are among the intriguing figures featured in the 20th anniversary year of the William B. Crawley Great Lives Lecture Series at the University of Mary Washington.
The popular biography series will be held on Tuesdays and Thursdays, Jan. 19 through March 28, 2023, at Dodd Auditorium in George Washington Hall. All lectures are free and begin at 7:30 p.m.
The lecture about Gladys West, set for Thursday, Feb. 2, 2023, will be of particular interest in the Fredericksburg area, said series director and namesake William Crawley, distinguished professor emeritus of history.
“A true ‘hidden figure,’ Dr. West fashioned a remarkable career that took her from a poor tobacco farm in southern Virginia to become a mathematician whose work in the 1940s and ’50s contributed significantly to the development of GPS,” Crawley said.
West, a resident of Dahlgren in King George County, was a mathematician at what’s now the Naval Surface Warfare Center, Dahlgren Division. Lecturer Karen Sherry will be joined onstage by a panel including West’s daughter Carolyn West Oglesby ’83, a Mary Washington alumna. (Story continues below gallery.)
The 2023 series continues the Great Lives tradition of featuring an eclectic mix of personalities from many eras and geographic locations. Besides West, Frank and Springsteen, upcoming subjects are Alan Turing, Shirley Jackson, Thomas Paine, civil rights activist Fannie Lou Hamer, Ted Kennedy, J. Edgar Hoover, Rembrandt, Magellan, Sandra Day O’Connor, the Transcendentalists, Lafayette, Queen Isabella and Colin Powell.
The 300-plus lectures of the past 19 years have focused not only on specific individuals but on notable groups and fictional characters. One non-human subject, the great Virginia racehorse Secretariat, was among the most popular presentations in the history of the series, Crawley said – and also his favorite.
All 2023 lectures will be recorded and made available on the program’s website after the live presentation. But attending at Dodd has the advantage of an audience Q&A with speakers. Books by speakers also will be available for purchase and signing.