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Lecture at Ft. Caspar Seeks to Separate Calamity Jane Fact From Myth

Martha Jane Canary aka “Calamity Jane” (Hulton Archive, Getty Images)

The Ft. Caspar Museum will be hosting a lecture from a woman who has spent 25 years, researching the life of the legendary frontierswoman known as “Calamity Jane.”

Retired Librarian Glenda Bell will be giving the lecture, which is preceded by a luncheon at the Ft. Caspar Museum.  Trey Corkern, Curator of Education at the museum says that the museum is very excited to present the lecture.

“Glenda is a retired librarian who has been studying Calamity Jane for 25 years, it’s a real passion of hers,” says Corkern.  “That sort of passion bleeds through, that’s why we’re so excited about this presentation.”

Corkern goes on to say that the goal of the lecture is to help attendees to separate the myth from the actual historic person.  Born Martha Jane Canary, the woman who would come to be known as Calamity Jane has been portrayed on screen by the likes of Jean Arthur in the 1936 film The Plainsman, right up to the 2004 HBO television series Deadwood where she was played by Robin Weigert.

“What’s really nice is to have somebody sit down and take a look at who the person was who inspired all these myths,” explains Corkern.  “Was this person an alcoholic?  Was this person an icon?  Was this person liable to burst out into song at any moment?  Or was this person just somebody who happened to go through the American West being so memorable that people hung on to her name after everything else was forgotten?”

Corkern says that the lecture will give attendees an opportunity to explore who Calamity Jane was, aside from all the portrayals that we’ve seen on screen.

The Ft. Caspar museum is asking people to call in advance before attending this weekend’s lecture so they may get a head count.  Interested parties can call the museum at 307-235-8462.  RSVPs are being taken through Wednesday.

Admission for the pre-lecture luncheon is $5.00 for museum members, $8.00 for non-museum members.  For those simply attending the lecture without lunch, that is included in a regular adult admission for $1:50.

The lunch takes place Saturday January 18th, at noon.  The lecture follows at 1 PM.

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