Lunch Talks

Tempe Historical Society’s Lunch Talks
2nd Wednesdays at 11:30 AM
Tempe History Museum, 809 E Southern Avenue

Admission is free!

Sessions are streamed live via Facebook and recordings of the Lunch Talks can be viewed on our Facebook page.
There is limited seating for in-person attendance.

Wednesday, Dec. 13, 2023
Tempe Signs
Joshua Roffler, Senior Curator
Jay Mark, Historian

Tempe Signs is an exhibit of iconic local signage at Tempe History Museum that allows visitors to connect with businesses from the past and contemplate how Tempe has changed over time. Hear about the creation of the exhibit, learn about the history and importance of signs, and see how changing signage has altered the look of Tempe.

Wednesday, Jan. 10, 2024
The Canals of the Salt River Valley
by Daniel Garcia & Jodi Moon

Staff from Salt River Project present the fascinating history of the oldest in-use irrigation canals in the Valley, including Tempe. Topics include the San Francisco Canal, the Tempe Canal Company, McKinney-Kirkland Ditch, as well as early Valley developers and their roles in Arizona water history, and how SRP preserves and interprets canals for the public. SRP staff will also take you on a virtual ghost-hunt for the telltale signs of ancient and historic canals that have been incorporated into the urban landscape but can still be traced when you know just what to look for.

Dan Garcia is a professional archaeologist and cultural resources regulatory specialist with Salt River Project in Phoenix. He has more than 20 years of experience working with multiple federal and state agencies across a variety of jurisdictions in Arizona. Dan is a member of the Arizona Archaeological Council board, co-chairs the Arizona Heritage Policy Committee, and serves as a member of the City of Phoenix Historic Preservation Commission.

Jodi Moon is a Senior Historical Analyst with Salt River Project’s Research Archives & Heritage team. She is a native Phoenician and two-time graduate of Arizona State University, where she earned both a BA and an MA in history. Jodi researches and writes about the history of water and power in the Valley.

Wednesday, Feb. 14, 2024
Stella McHenry: The First African American Female Graduate, Tempe Normal School, 1925.

by Shannon Walker

Shannon Walker, ASU University Archivist, will be discussing a recent project to identify, recognize, and honor the first African American female graduate of ASU, Stella McHenry. This project has led to further efforts to identify and tell the story of early students of color at the University using ASU and Tempe History Museum archival collections. In addition, Shannon will discuss the importance of developing relationships with the families of alumni and the Black community in Phoenix in general, coinciding with the work her ASU colleague Jessica Salow, curator of Black Collections, is doing to document the Black community of Arizona.

Shannon Walker is currently the University Archivist at Arizona State University. Her responsibilities include overseeing the collections and programs of University Archives, specializing in the history of the Thunderbird School of Global Management. Prior to ASU, she worked in the Western History & Genealogy Department at the Denver Public Library and at the Getty Conservation Institute library in Los Angeles. She received her MLIS from the University of Denver and has a dual-degree in History and Anthropology from the University of Colorado-Boulder. She is also a member of the Arizona Historical Records Advisory Board and President of the Arizona Archives Alliance.

Wednesday, March 13, 2024
Forgotten Tempe: Phantom Buildings from the Past that Shape the Present

by Jared Smith

Tempe’s historic past is often defined by a handful of iconic buildings that remain in the present.  But these very finite and fragile resources are the imperfect representatives of a past once populated with places like the White House, the Tempe Stockyards, Dewey Street, and entire districts like San Pablo and Kyrene to name but a few.  Although such places are gone, their power to define Tempe has not diminished even as suburbs, strip malls and high-rises alter the physical fabric that we experience every day.  Remnants of these old places remain, stubborn reminders that the past is always present.

Wednesday, April 10, 2023
Brangus Cattle

By Craig Crosby, Alex Dees Foundation

Craig Crosby, Chairman of the Board for the Alex Dees Memorial Foundation will talk about Alex Dees’ history and legacy in ranching as an African American.  Join us on this journey from humble beginnings to being a nationally recognized rancher and livestock judge. Mr. Crosby will also talk about the Mission of the Foundation and continuing the legacy of Alex Dees.


Wednesday, May 8, 2024
Pueblo de los Muertos: City of the Dead

by Ben Furlong

Dr. Ben Furlong presents a fascinating look at a forgotten local archeological site in Tempe: Los Muertos. In the late 1880s, the Hemenway Southwestern Archaeological Expedition set out to uncover the past and reveal important information about the area’s earliest inhabitants. Much of their time was spent among the ruins of 35 adobe structures located in present-day south Tempe and west Chandler. The largest of these was 200 feet wide by 320 feet long and was equivalent to four stories in height. The Hemenway Expedition dubbed the community Pueblo de Los Muertos, the town of the dead. After this project was complete, Los Muertos was forgotten yet again. Some 800 years later, new farmers moved in and rediscovered the gift of this land.

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