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Lecture Series Takes on Public History

Author Larry E. Burgess to Reflect on “The Inconvenience of History”

UCR Adjunct Professor Inaugurates Knox and Carlotta Mellon Lecture Series

(May 16, 2005)

RIVERSIDE, Calif. ( -- Larry E. Burgess, a UCR adjunct professor and prominent regional historian, will reflect on 35 years of interpreting the twists and turns of current events as they settle into history in the first installment of a new UC Riverside lecture series.

"The Inconvenience of History: A Public Historian's Retrospective" is set for 5 p.m. Friday in Humanities and Social Sciences 1500. Sponsored by the Department of History, it is the first Knox and Carlotta Mellon Lecture in Public History. The Mellons, of Riverside, are frequent donors to UCR with an extensive record of supporting projects that focus on California’s history and culture. The lecture is free and open to the public. Parking on campus costs $5.

Burgess’ lecture will focus on complex realities of the historian’s task: finding a balance, often elusive, among facts and passions -- others’ and his own -- on various sides of an issue.

The “inconvenient” part, Burgess said, is what happens when historians take an active part in local and regional history and interpretation, as he has in Redlands.

“This is not like the great movements of civilization, comfortably in the past,” Burgess said. “It’s smaller and more personal and complex. It involves actions that may have been taken by your uncle or your neighbor -- someone who might still be around -- and people aren’t always eager to revisit and confront those issues.”

Burgess said he will pepper the lecture with interesting “inconveniences” of local history he and his UCR students have delved into over the last 25 years.
Director of the A.K. Smiley Public Library in Redlands since 1986, Burgess gives 50 to 60 programs every year on the history of Southern California and the West, or on Lincoln and the Civil War. He has served as curator for the library's sister institution, the Lincoln Memorial Shrine, a Redlands museum dedicated to Lincoln and the Civil War. In the summer and fall of 2000, Burgess was Redlands’ interim city manager.

He has written and collaborated on many books, including The Smileys: A Biography (1969, 1993); Mohonk: Its People and Spirit (1982, 1993); The Hunt for Willie Boy (1994), Willie Boy in Two Worlds: An Episode in Indian-White Relations (2002), and Images of America: Redlands (2004).

The University of California, Riverside ( is a doctoral research university, a living laboratory for groundbreaking exploration of issues critical to Inland Southern California, the state and communities around the world. Reflecting California's diverse culture, UCR's enrollment has exceeded 21,000 students. The campus opened a medical school in 2013 and has reached the heart of the Coachella Valley by way of the UCR Palm Desert Center. The campus has an annual statewide economic impact of more than $1 billion.

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