About Our Speakers

No Foolin' - Just the Facts

March 31 - April 2, 2017



BURRUS M. CARNAHAN is the author of two books and numerous articles on Abraham Lincoln, international law, and the law of war.  He is currently a Professorial Lecturer in Law at the George Washington University and Lincoln Institute at the National Archives, the Filson Historical Society in Louisville, Kentucky, President Lincoln's Cottage in Washington, DC, Robert Lincoln's Hildene in Vermont, and many other venues.  He was a member of the Scholarly Advisory Group for President Lincoln's Cottage for 2012-2014, and currently serves on the Board of Advisors for the Lincoln Forum. He will address our 2017 conference on The Military Trial: Myth and Reality.

DR. BLAINE HOUMES has been a popular speaker at the Surratt conferences on several occasions and brings his medical background to play in examining history.  Dr. Houmes is an Emergency Physician from Iowa and trained at the Cook County Hospital in Chicago.  He is a member of the American College of Emergency Medicine, the American Academy of Emergency Medicine, and the American Academy of Forensic Sciences.  He was a medical examiner for 10 years in Iowa.  In the Lincoln Field of study, he is well-known for photographic collections and assassination-related materials.  This year, he will speak on There's Something About Mary, an exploration on the medical history of Mary Surratt with focus on 3-4 challenges she ahd along with factors that influenced 

KAREN NEEDLES is an Air Force veteran, a history teacher, former consultant for IBM, Discovery Channel, Turner Learning, and education specialist with the Library of Congress in training teachers to use primary sources in the classroom. She founded the Lincoln Archives Digital Project in 2002 with the purpose of making Lincoln-related items available online, as well as searchable, through 20 million records that the NARA has estimated as contained in all of the records of the American Civil War throughout the thousands of record groups and millions of entries.

The website www.lincolnarchives.us is a public service project through Documents on Wheels and was endorsed by the Lincoln Bicentennial Commission in 2007. It includes transcribing and digitizing all executive, legislative, judicial, and military records of the Lincoln administration, beginning with the 1860 election and ending with the assassination of Lincoln; the capture, trial, and execution of the conspirators; and the capture and imprisonment of Jefferson Davis; followed by the capture, trial, and release of John Surratt, Jr. in 1868.  Areas also covered include Indian policies, the creation of national parks, U.S. infrastructure, U.S. Treasury records, and more. 

Karen has worked with noted authors such as James Swanson, Ron White, Jr. and James Conroy.  She also served as Presidnent of the Lincoln Group of DC for four years and organized several symposiums during that time. Her talk before our group is entitled Taking the Lincoln Assassination into the Digital Age. 

WILLIAM L. RICHTER received his P.h.D.at Louisiana State University in 1970, where he studied under the famous Civil War scholar, T. Harry Williams.  His dissertation on the Army in Texas during Reconstruction was publish by Texas A&M Press.  He taught briefly at the college level and then spent thirty years running his own business as a professional farrier. During that time, he wrote extensively (and continues to do so).  He has published thirteen books and over thirty articles on the Antebellum South, American transportation, the Civil War and Reconstruction, and the assassination of Abraham Lincoln.  His most recent book, co-authored with J.E. "Rick" Smith III, is The Last Shot: Essays on Civil War Politics, the Demise of John WIlkes Booth, and the Republican Myth of the Assassinated Lincoln.

While little is known about any concrete plans that Abraham Lincoln had for reconstructing the United States before his untimely death, Dr. Richter has agreed to talk on his analysis of Lincoln's previous methods and tactics before his untimely death, Dr. Richter has agreed to talk on his analysis of LIncoln's previous methods and tactics of administration in his speech entitled 'My Policy is to Have No Policy': Abraham Lincoln and the Reconstruction of Our Nation.

SCOTT SCHROEDER is a native South Dakotan and an independent historian and researcher.  He is a professional Physical Therapist and Certified Athletic Trainer, currently practicing in Bloomington, Indiana.  He is also an adjunct faculty member at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis (IUPUI) in the Department of Physical Therapy and an adjunct lecturer at Indian University in the Athletic Training Program.  He holds a Bachelor's Degree, a Master's Degree and is currently working toward completion of a Doctorate Degree in his professional field.

His interest in American history was solidified at age eleven while on a family vacation that included visits to Springfield, Illionois, Lookout Mountain, and Atlanta, Georgia. Since that time, his love of American history has continued to grow, with the American Civil War and Abraham Lincoln being of paticular interest. He has spoken on numerous topics related to Lincoln, Lincoln's assassination, and the broader Civil War for a variety of organizations and institutions.  He is currently working on several projects related in part to the assassination.  Among other organizations, he is a member of the Surratt Society, the Society of Civil War Historians, the Abraham Lincoln Asssociation, and the Lincoln Forum.  He currently serves as President and Program Coordinator for the Monroe County Civil War Roundtable in Bloomington, Indiana.

The Lincoln assassination story has appeared in literature, song, paintings , sculpture, film, and so on.  Comic books and graphic novels are among the many places in American popular culture that it has appeared - no foolin'! Scott's talk, The Lincoln Assassination Story: Depictions in American Comic Books and Graphic Novels, will examine some select examples of these appearances.

DAVE TAYLOR is a Lincoln assassination and Booth family researcher. He runs the website BoothieBarn.com, which provides information on the Lincoln assassination story through articles, maps videos, travelogues, and picture galleries.  He has presented at the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum in Springfrield, Illinois, and on live television about his interest in the tragedy at Ford's Theatre.  Dave is one of the narrators for the very popular John Wilkes Booth Escape Route Bus Tours put on by the Surratt Society.  When not re-enacting John Wilkes Booth's time hiding from Union troops or giving speeches on the subject, Dave is an elementary school teacher in Southern Maryland.  In his speech, Assassination "Extras," Their Hidden Histories, Dave will share unknown stories about some of the minor men and women who crossed paths with the dramatic events of April 14, 1865.


KAITLYN RAMIREZ  is a 19th -century murder researcher, speaker, and living historian who specializes in the Lincoln assassination, the Lizzie Borden murders, and the case of the "Devil in the White City," multi-murderer, Dr. H.H. Holmes. She has presented on differet aspects of the Lincoln assassination for several organizations, including the Society for Women and the Civil War, Tudor Hall, Historic Port Royal, and the Daughters of the American Revolution.  Kate also speaks about the events of 1865 through her work as a volunteer docent the Dr. Samuel Mudd House Museum and as an employee of Historic Port Tobacco Village.  When off the clock, she often can be found tending to her adopted burial plot in Congressional Cemetery. 

For the 2016 Surratt Society Conference, Kate presented her research on Mary Surratt and the debate over her guilt. This year, Kate is honored to perform her dramtic, one-woman show about Mary Surratt entitled Beware the People Whistling.

Throughout Mrs. Surratt's imprisonment and trial, the public was fascinated by this enigmatic woman who is contrastingly portrayed through testimonies as both a pious mother and an apparent accomplice in one of the greatest American crimes.  Every night, after each trial session, she sits alone, locked away in her cell.  Yet, even through the isolating walls of the prison, she manages to hear the solitary whistling of another defendant.   As she listens, Mary contemplates her fate, recalls memories of her familiy, the choices she has made because of war, and the man who brought death to Lincoln and ruin to her and her fellow prisoners.

Participants in our Authors' Hour  to be announced.