2019 Keynote Speakers

FINAL Betsy-Author-Portrait-

Elizabeth “Betsy” Watry


Elizabeth “Betsy” Watry is an independent scholar specializing in nineteenth and early-twentieth century cultural history of the American West. Her primary research interests are early exploration, transportation, tourism, and women’s history.
She holds a Master’s Degree in History from Montana State University and is the co-author of Images of America: Yellowstone National Park (2008), Images of America: Fort Yellowstone (2012) and Images of America: Livingston (MT) (2009) published by Arcadia Publishingand Ho! For Wonderland: Travelers’ Accounts of Yellowstone, 1872-1914 (2009) published by the University of New Mexico.
Her most recent book Women in Wonderland: Lives, Legends, and Legacies of Yellowstone National Park (2012) won the nationally recognized WILLA Literary Award for scholarly non-fiction in 2013.
FINAL Lee at Arch Park, June 24, 2016

Lee Whittlesey

Retired Yellowstone Park Historian


Lee Whittlesey’s forty-year studies in the history of the Yellowstone region have made him an expert on Yellowstone’s vast literature and have resulted in numerous publications. He is the author, co-author, or editor of eleven books and more than twenty-five journal articles. The most recent ones are the 2015 edition of Truman Everts’s Lost in the Yellowstone, and Gateway to Yellowstone: The Raucous Town of Cinnabar on the Montana Frontier. He is co-authoring a book with Dr. Paul Schullery, a twenty-five-year project—“The History of Mammals in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem, 1796-1881: An Interdisciplinary Analysis of Thousands of Historical Observations”— forthcoming as a full book in 2019.
Whittlesey has a master’s degree in history from Montana State University (MSU) and a law degree (Juris Doctor) from the University of Oklahoma. On May 19, 2001, because of his extensive writings and long contributions to Yellowstone National Park, Idaho State University conferred upon him an Honorary Doctorate of Science and Humane Letters. Since 1996, he has been an adjunct professor of history at Montana State University, and on May 3, 2014, MSU awarded him an honorary Ph.D. in history.
Whittlesey also published The Guide to Yellowstone Waterfalls and Their Discovery (2000) in which he and two co-authors revealed to the world for the first time the existence of more than 200 previously unknown waterfalls in Yellowstone National Park. For this accomplishment, he was featured on ABC News, NBC News, the Discovery Channel, the Travel Channel, and People magazine. He appeared in Ken Burns’s five-part special on national parks, the Arun Chaudhary film shot for President Obama’s White House, the British Broadcasting Corporation’s hour-long program entitled “Unnatural Histories—Yellowstone,” and most recently on Montana PBS’s history of Yellowstone. Whittlesey retired as Park Historian for the National Park Service at Yellowstone National Park on April 30, 2018, and now spends his time writing in Montana.
Peter Blodgett Photo

Peter J. Blodgett 

H. Russell Smith Foundation Curator of Western American History, Huntington Library 

A New Englander by birth and upbringing, Peter Blodgett received his bachelor’s degree in American history from Bowdoin College in Brunswick, Maine, and master’s and doctoral degrees from Yale University.  Since joining the Huntington Library’s Manuscripts Department in 1985, he has been responsible for the acquisition, exhibition, and reference service of the library’s rare original collections concerning the history of the trans-Mississippi West across the past two centuries. The holdings within his charge include materials that document the economic, social, and political development of the West as well as the encounters of indigenous and immigrant peoples throughout the region.  During his service at the Huntington, he has assisted hundreds of researchers in successfully consulting the Library’s resources and has overseen the acquisition and processing of dozens of collections of historical records.
Active in a variety of professional organizations including the Society of California Archivists, the Society of American Archivists and the Western History Association, he has spoken and written widely on national parks, tourism, and recreation as well as the management of manuscripts and archives.
Active From 2008 and 2013, he served as Executive Director of the Pacific Coast Branch of the American Historical Association and currently holds the position of the H. Russell Smith Foundation Curator of Western Historical Manuscripts at the Huntington Library. 
Pete Simpson studio portraits

An Evening with the Honorable Peter K. Simpson

Peter K. “Pete” Simpson is a Cody, Wyoming native who attended the Cody schools and graduated from the University of Wyoming.  He served in the US Navy and later took a masters degree in history from UW and a PhD from the University of Oregon.  He served as Assistant to the President of Casper College and as initial Coordinator of the UW-Casper College Upper Division.  He became Dean of Instruction at Sheridan College; and, during his tenure was twice elected to the Wyoming House of Representatives.  He was later appointed UW Vice President for Institutional Advancement and Executive Director of the University of Wyoming Foundation.  Upon retirement, he served as Simpson Distinguished Professor of Political Science at UW and taught there until 2012.  He is a Distinguished Member of the National Society of American Scholars, a University of Wyoming College of Arts and Sciences Exemplary Alum and a recipient of UW’s Medallion Service Award.  He and his brother, retired Senator Alan Simpson, are enrolled in the University of Wyoming’s Athletic Hall of Fame; and, Pete and Lynne together with Alan and his wife, Ann are recipients of the 2017 Wallace Stegner Award for contributions to the spirit of the West.  Pete and his wife, Lynne, continue to participate in cultural and civic affairs in Cody.