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First Person, Historical Performances

All performances are in authentic first person, in costume.

* Indicates past character performances not currently available.

  • Abigail Adams - Wife of John Adams and voice of women's rights through him at the organizing congress of the United States. Remember her admonition to her husband, John, during the Continental Congress... "Remember the Ladies."

    Abigail and John's son, John Quincy, traveled to Russia at age 14 and acted as a French interpreter with Catherine the Great of Russia in efforts to secure the Act of Neutrality to secure the Atlantic seas for shipping to the American warring colonies.

    Abigail Adams
  • Louisa M. Alcott * - Louisa spoke from experiences of poverty but with an independent mind. Early transcendentalist education was promoted by her Father and his friends, Ralph Waldo Emerson and Henry Thoreau.

    Louisa wrote from what she knew of a woman's life in mid- 1880's. Early on, she worked as a domestic servant and wrote under a pseudonym to escape judgment.

    When the Civil War fractured the United States, she worked as a nurse (no training required) at Union Hospital in Washington, D. C. She then returned home to Boston and began a serious writing career.

    Little Women was based on her family members and provided an independent mind about women's rights and suffrage. The relatable story is a sacred trust passed down generations since the mid-1880's.

    Louisa died in 1888 of mercury poisoning, the treatment she was given during the Civil War for Typhoid fever.

    Louisa M. Alcott *
  • Florence Ellinwood Allen - If you ask, "Who was the first woman judge" the chances are good the answer is "Florence Ellinwood Allen." Known in Ohio as "the first lady of the law," Allen graduated from law school before women were granted the right to vote. Because no law firm would hire her, she defied discrimination and opened her own law practice in Cleveland. Among her 'firsts,'
    • 1920 - First woman to be elected a Common Pleas Court judge, having gotten her name on the ballot through a massive petition effort by the newly formed League of Women Voters.
    • 1922 - First woman elected to the Ohio Supreme Court, and the first woman to serve on any state supreme court in the U.S.
    • Presiding over the murder trial of gangster Frank Motto, she was the first woman judge to impose the death sentence, which earned her a death threat, police protection, and a reputation as a fearless enforcer of law and order.
    • 1934 - Prompted by Eleanor Roosevelt, FDR appointed Allen as the first female judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals.
    An outspoken and powerful public speaker, Florence Allen was a mentor, motivator, and role model for thousands of women and girls to follow her path into civic and political engagement.

    Florence Ellinwood Allen
  • Clara Barton - Founder of American Red Cross and "Angel on the Battlefield" from the Civil War era.

    There is a health aspect in her story of ageism, a prejudice that plagues our culture. Her humanitarian work in Europe during the Franco Prussian war and the Ottoman massacre was foundational in bring the U.S. Government into the Geneva Convention Treaty.

    Barton for the first time promoted US military plans for wounded and dead soldiers.

  • Clara Barton
  • Catherine of Braganza - Queen of England, wife of King Charles II - after the restoration of the Monarchy.

    She is credited with bringing tea to England.

    Catherine, as a Portuguese Princess, was kept cloistered in a Convent until her Mother's wishes came true for her to marry King Charles II, of England after the restoration of England's monarchy.

    Catherine was a devout Catholic, who married a Protestant King in a country that was hostile towards Catholicism.

    Catherine of Braganza
  • Mary Breckenridge * - Mrs. Breckenridge (as she was always called) was born into southern traditions and a politically active family. When her little brother was born in Russia while her father was Ambassador, she became aware of professional Midwives.

    MBs children both died young. After a husbands death and next marriage ended in divorce she dedicated her life to Nursing and bringing Professional Nurse Midwifery to America from England and Scotland.

    Her Frontier Nursing Service of the Appalachian remote mountains of SE Kentucky provided District Nurse Midwives and Public Health services that improved health outcomes to rival those of NYC within 5-years.

    In 1928, Breckenridge founded the Frontier Nursing Service (FNS) resulting in modern University and healthcare services that continue to be a beacon for Maternal-Child and Family Nurse Practitioner excellence.

    Mary Breckenridge *
  • Mary (Polly) Ingraham Bunting - (1910-1998)
    A 20th-century feminist and educator, Mary "Polly" Bunting was born in Brooklyn, New York. She graduated from Vassar College, then earned master's and doctoral degrees in agricultural bacteriology from the University of Wisconsin.

    Polly's life changed dramatically when her husband died of a brain tumor and she was forced to find work to support herself and her four children. She began a career in academia as dean of Douglas College, the women's school at Rutgers University.

    Polly gained national attention for identifying the ways that American society was stifling women's aspirations and thwarting their achievements. At Douglas, she set up a part- time program that allowed older, married women to continue or resume their educations. Five years later, now president of Radcliffe College, she established the Radcliffe Institute for Independent Study. The stated goal of the center was to enable women who had given up their careers for marriage or other reasons to have a chance to return to academic pursuits, thus challenging and changing what Polly called the "culture of unexpectation" for women.

    Mary (Polly) Ingraham Bunting
  • Rachel Carson - An American marine biologist, author, and conservationist whose book Silent Spring and other writings are credited with advancing the global environmental movement.

    Late in the 1950s, Carson turned her attention to conservation, especially some problems that she believed were caused by synthetic pesticides. The result was the book Silent Spring (1962), which brought environmental concerns to an unprecedented share of the American people. Although Silent Spring was met with fierce opposition by chemical companies, it spurred a reversal in national pesticide policy, which led to a nationwide ban on DDT and other pesticides. It also inspired a grassroots environmental movement that led to the creation of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

    Rachel Carson
  • Willa Cather - Pulitzer prize holder, Willa Cather, speaks to the world beyond her roots in Red Cloud, NE. A renaissance woman in a man's 1900 publishing world, Cather used the written canvas to extend political and social concerns for the plight and life of Midwest pioneers. Prepare for a new perspective of this cosmopolitan, sophisticated woman, originally from the Central Plaines of America.

    Willa Cather was an American writer who achieved recognition for her novels of frontier life on the Great Plains. In 1923 she was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for a novel set during World War I.

    Cather graduated from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, and then lived and worked in Pittsburgh supporting herself as a magazine editor and high school English teacher. At the age of 33 she moved to New York City, which became her primary home for the rest of her life.

    Willa Cather
  • Catherine the Great of Russia - The 18th century woman ruler in her own right. Secured strategic alliances with European allies. Facilitated Mennonite religious freedoms.

    With a non-aggression treaty facilitated the colonists in the American Revolution. She ruled for 34 years as Russia's Golden Age. She brought Russia into modernity of the 18th century.

    Catherine the Great of Russia
  • Queen Christina of Sweden - Christina was the only legitimate heir to the Swedish throne when her father, King Gustav, was killed on the battlefield during the 30-years war. Her Mother, Eleanora was mentally unstable and abusive to Christina.

    King Gustaf had left her guardianship and care to Axel Oxenstierna. Christina received a Princely education in military and political arts as well as in the classics.

    When taking the throne, Christina demanded an end to the 30- years war and negotiated the Westphalia treaty to bring peace between the Protestants and Catholics of Northern Europe. She longed for Sweden to become the Athens of the North. She brought classical learning, music, and arts to the region before Sweden's citizen understood her efforts.

    Her subjects and the ruling elite could not understand or value a woman for any purpose other than to produce an heir.

    Her struggle for personal freedom, the passion for arts, her abdication from the throne and as head of the State Lutheran Church, a Catholic conversion from Lutheranism, and flight to Rome under Pope Alexander VII, are part of her story.

    Queen Christina of Sweden
  • Mamie Eisenhower (ARB) - The wife of United States President Dwight D. Eisenhower, and First Lady of the United States from 1953 to 1961.

    Mamie was born in Iowa into entrepreneurial wealth. Her Father retired at age 35 to San Antonio, Texas, where she met a lowly 2nd Lieutenant Army Officer. Mamie chose love over her debutant status. She trekked across the world with her husband and worked alongside of him as a rising, officer's wife.

    As First Lady, she entertained a wide range of foreign dignitaries with a confident style and dedication to charitable needs.

    Mamie Eisenhower (ARB)
  • Betty Ford - The former Elizabeth Anne Bloomer is perhaps best known as Betty Ford, wife of President Gerald Ford. She is also known for her candor about a malignancy and her addiction to alcohol. What may not be as well-known is her marriage and career before meeting President Ford. A dancer and model earlier, Betty was known for disco dancing at informal White House events. She was also very serious about subjects such as equal rights for women, abortion, and divorce, causing alarm among the more conservative elements of the Republican Party. Betty remained popular with the American people long after her husband lost the presidency to Jimmy Carter.

    Betty Ford
  • Anna Freud * - Anna Freud was the youngest daughter of Sigmund Freud. Anna defended Papa's theories to the world and cared for her dying father in exile after narrowly escaping the Nazi invasion of Vienna, Austria.

    Anna brought her compassion for understanding children's trauma in the bombing blitz experiences in London. Children separated more easily than adults from their homes and possessions, but were severely traumatized by the loss of attachment and relationships.

    Anna provided understanding, discipline, refuge, and hope for the children. She was one of the first who brought attention to mental health studies of children as different than studying adults.

    Anna Freud *
  • Elizabeth Friedman - A story of love, spies, and a heroine who outwitted America's enemies on the home front and abroad. She used her love of words to help create a new career - cryptologist. In an era of sexism little credit was given to this amazing Quaker school teacher who took down our enemies on the home front with smugglers and abroad with international spies.

    Elizabeth Friedman
  • Virginia Hall * - a debutante who exchanged her social status for work with the US State Department and as a spy for WW II Allies. Virginia was fluent in several languages, including French, German and Italian, making her a valued war asset.
    As an undercover news reporter, she assisted the information flow out of France around and from the Nazi soldiers. After America entered the war she became a deep cover agent, organizing resistance groups, operating and training radio operators. She was most wanted by Hitler as the limping woman spy. Virginia had suffered a hunting accident and wore a wooden leg she called Cuthbert. Her escape in winter across the Pyrenees mountains is a harrowing part of her story.

    Virginia Hall *
  • Karen Horney, MD - Light Afternoon Tea & Personality

    Dr. Horney was in the second medical school class graduating (1911) in Germany that admitted women. She studied with Sigmund Freud and took issue with his male- centrist view of mental health and human development.

    Dr Horney escaped Germany just before the Nazis tried to destroy psychology as a profession and linked it with prominent Jewish professionals such as Freud.

    Dr Horney was the original leader of feminism as gender equality. The Hornein school of psychoanalysis continues today.

    Karen Horney, MD
  • Frances Kelsey * - The Canadian American scientists who protected Americans against the phocomelia birth defects caused by Thalidomide taken in pregnancy. The drug companies and medical establishment reviled her work until the defect was proven and she became the hero.

    Frances Kelsey *
  • Mary Todd Lincoln - Mary was a maligned, misunderstood, and unfairly demonized wife of President Abraham Lincoln. Mary was an outspoken, educated Victorian women who unintentionally threatened her husband's law associates and cabinet members, alike.

    Mary's personality was emotive, but after a carriage accident, intended as an assassination attempt on Abraham's life, she was thrown from a runaway carriage and sustained internal brain damage with life-long "necrotizing" headaches that contributed to her distress.

    Abe's law partner, Herndon, was named executor of the President's estate. Herndon was particularly threatened by Mary and he withheld the estate settlement and allowance money for Mary's living needs until she was forced to sell her home in Springfield, IL. She lived in boarding houses for the rest of her life.

    Robert, her only remaining son was manipulated by Herndon and associates to act as the Victorian protectorate of his Mother. He proceeded with a Kangaroo Court to commit Mary to a mental institution for life-time care. Her escape and restitution is part of her daring story.

    Mary Todd Lincoln
  • Katherina von Bora Luther - Renaissance woman, wife of Martin Luther, hospitality and business manager for Luther's reformation work. Katerina was born into nobility, but without wealth. She was designated to live life in a convent since she had no dowry. Her story is one of risk-taking and independence at a time woman's place was as a housekeeper and her role was childbearing. The Luthers survived the plague, the wars of the Holy Roman Empire and sought to reform - not destroy - the Roman Catholic church of the 16th century. Doctor Luther valued her thinking, partnership and input around the table, with theological scholars of the time.

    Katherina von Bora Luther
  • Dolley Madison - First Lady and wife of James Madison was known for her social Tea Parties and Soirees in Washington society.

    James Madison married her when she was a young 25-year old widow with two children. Dolley defined the role of the President's spouse. She enjoyed the social spotlight when available and her popularity is credited to the re-election of her husband. Dolley helped to furnish the newly constructed White House.

    When the British set fire to it in 1814, she was credited with saving the classic portrait of George Washington

    Widowed again at age 68, she lived in poverty, only supported by the sales of James' Presidential papers.

    Dolley Madison
  • Clarina Howard Nichols - Clarina spent her early years in Vermont but in 1854 moved her family to Kansas when the Kansas-Nebraska Act was passed. What prompted her to move? What opportunities did she see on this Western frontier? Her story has long been forgotten, but what she did for Kansas women, for Kansas becoming a free state, and for enslaved people escaping to northeast Kansas deserves to be remembered and honored.

    Clarina Howard Nichols
  • Florence Nightingale - Florence is known as The Lady with the Lamp. Nurses recite the pledge for ethics and compassion that is attributed to her, as the founder of nursing as a profession.

    She was born in Florence, Italy of English aristocratic parents during their 2-year extended honeymoon. Florence resisted marriage and a comfortable life in favor of elevating nursing as a professional calling. Her historical notoriety came from her work in the Crimean War when she patrolled the hospital wards at night, seeking to bring comfort to the wounded soldiers.

    There is a surprise in a turn of her power, statistical measures, and public health practices.

    Florence Nightingale
  • Elizabeth Packard - "I was kidnapped by my husband." So begins Elizabeth Packard's description of the day her husband broke into her bedroom with two physicians who declared her insane. She was forcibly removed from her home and spent more than three years in an asylum. When she was eventually released to return home, her husband kept her locked in the house.

    Elizabeth Packard's story contains all the intrigue of a plotting and cruel husband and a wife who would not be silenced. Her experiences led her to challenge the law of coverture which in effect said that a wife's existence was subsumed into that of her husband.

    After escaping her husband, Elizabeth wrote, lectured and lobbied for the civil rights of wives and, later, for the mentally ill. In this cause she enlisted the support of US First Lady Julia Grant and President Grant. They spent 15 years influencing change in the laws regarding the incarceration of people locked in mental wards.

    Elizabeth Packard
  • Alice Paul - Alice was a significant influence on the U.S. constitutional 19th amendment for women's right to vote.

    Born a progressive Quaker, she studied Social Work, Social Policies, and Economics in America and England. Alice joined the woman's movement of Susan B Anthony and Cady Stanton but was impatient waiting for each state to grant voting rights.

    Alice had worked with English militants, the Pankhursts, but disliked the violence she saw. Alice employed aggressive, non-violent strategies and used President Wilson's words of war against him during WW II to promote suffrage. The Silent Sentinels held outside the White House for almost two years shamed the President by the use of his own words to the Kaiser against him for denying voice and vote for women in America.

    Alice was unrelenting in using the women's voices of new states in the west who had granted women the right to vote with statehood. She and her workers suffered prison terms and physical and mental torture to bring about the final Congressional victory with ratification of the 19th Constitutional Amendment in 1920 giving women the right to vote.

    Alice was the original author of the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) that in addition to the right to vote, sought to bring women into Constitutional Equality with full citizenship. Alice dedicated her life to the struggle for gender equality.

    Alice Paul
  • Frances Perkins - First woman cabinet member. Joined FDR's Cabinet as Secretary of Labor because FDR promised to support her agenda for social issues. Because of her, FDR supported the Social Security Act, limited workweek to 54 hours, enacted child labor laws, and unemployment insurance. The only item on her list of reforms that were not enacted was Universal Health Insurance. She worked in the background to protect German immigrants fleeing Hitler, even against the jealousies of other Cabinet members and politicians.

    Frances Perkins
  • Eleanor Roosevelt - Eleanor was born of material privilege but with an indifferent Mother who reminded her she was an "ugly duckling" of the family.

    Orphaned at an early age, she was under the guardianship of her maternal grandmother who adhered to strict protocol and limited displays of affection. At age 16, she was sent to a prestigious finishing school in the UK. Here she discovered a warm and encouraging mentor who saw feminism as the power of the future.

    Eleanor's life was lived, first in timidity and fear, then in obligation and duty, and finally in the discovery of herself, powers, interests, and influences through the United Nations Human Rights Commission.

    Eventually, she feared no one and no challenge that could make rights of self-determination and personal sanctity realizable.

    Eleanor Roosevelt
  • Margaret Sanger - an important pioneer actively committed to providing scientific information to doctors, nurses and a healthy public regarding reproductive education and contraceptive discovery to eliminate abortion practices.

Sanger Performance

    Margaret Sanger
  • Dame Cicely Saunders * - If you had a terminal illness and a doctor with a kind voice said, "You matter because you are you and you matter to the end of your life," what a comfort that would be. Those are the words of Dame Cicely Saunders who founded the first modern hospice in London in 1967.

    As a medical social worker, she met a Jewish-Polish refugee who was dying of cancer. They grew close and talked about the need for a home where dying people could find peace in their last days. This led Cicely Saunders to establish St. Christopher's Hospice, where she revolutionized the way in which the medical profession cares for the dying and the bereaved.

    Introducing effective pain management and scientific methodology, Dame Saunders insisted that dying people needed dignity, compassion and respect, as well as excellent nursing and medical care. Her work transformed the care of terminally ill persons around the world.

    Dame Cicely Saunders *
  • Irena Sendler - Christian Social Worker who took great risks to rescue 2,500 Jewish children away from the Warsaw ghetto under WW II Nazi death camp plans. The Nazis invaded Poland in 1939. The Nazi's brought hate and prejudice, and encouraged neighbors to hate neighbors.

    As a part of Hitler's "Last Solution" all Warsaw Jews were forced into an overcrowded, diseased ghetto before being taken to the death camp, Triblinka, death camp, northeast of Warsaw.

    Irena became a state sponsored "nurse" to check diseases in the ghetto. In reality, she was an underground courier who sneaked children out of the ghetto under the eyes and ears of the Nazi guards. She and her small group are credited with saving about 2500 children by various and ingenious means. She carried babies out in carpenter boxes under the tools, and she trained her dog to bark at the gates with Nazi guards to cover any cries or noises from the children in morgue boxes.

    Irena was captured and sentenced to death. In prison she was severely tortured and all her limbs were broken. Her escape and return to her work are a part of the story.

    Irena Sendler
  • Helen (Nelli) Taft * - As a teenager, Nelli dreamed of becoming first lady. She actively pushed and campaigned with her husband into the office. In the 1909 inauguration she established a new protocol of equality and and rode in the carriage with her husband to the ceremony. Two months after becoming First Lady, she suffered a debilitating stroke.

    Nelli brought a genteel culture with music events and music appreciation to Washington and the White House. She turned the Potomac swamp area near the White House into a Potomac Park.

    In recognition of their service in the Philippines (1901 - 1904) and Nelli's standing of affection with the Asian cultures she was gifted 3,000 cherry blossom trees for beautifying the Potomac Park in DC.

    Helen (Nelli) Taft *
  • Louise Thaden - The only woman aviator (aviatrix) who held the three major competitive awards in aviation at the same time.

    A contemporary of Amelia Earhart. She was a responsible face for Wichita, Kansas aviation success through Beechcraft.

  • Louise Thaden
  • Frances Willard - In the late 1800s, Frances Willard was the most well-known woman in the United States. She was president of the largest women's organization in the world, the Women's Christian Temperance Union. While she worked for Prohibition, she also advocated for labor unions, prison reform, child labor laws, age of consent, and women's suffrage. A member of the Methodist church, Miss Willard challenged the restrictions placed on the participation of women in the congregation and the conference. Today one may find images of Frances Willard in many United Methodist churches.

    Frances Willard
  • Pearl Witherington Cornioley * - Pearl proved herself with Churchill's Special Operations Executive as an undercover courier and later as a strategic network leader of the French Resistance. She organized and commanded 3500 marquis during WWII. She was instrumental in many acts of daring espionage and sabotage to help Allied war efforts towards victory - while falling in love with a Frenchman.

    Pearl Witherington Cornioley *
  • Katharine Wright - The sister of Wilbur and Orville Wright brothers. She was the business and public relations face of success behind them.

    Her story has family, romance, and relationship issues.

  • Katharine Wright

    Woman veteran owned
    NAICS 66170, 54612
    DUNS 079137088
    CAGE code 079137088/72CD7

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