Contact and Bio

Leslie Goddard

Leslie Goddard, M.A., Ph.D., is an award-winning actress and scholar who has been presenting history lectures and portraying famous women in history for more than ten years.

She holds a Ph.D. from Northwestern University specializing in American studies and U.S. history, as well as master's degrees in theater and in museum studies. A former museum director, she is the author of two books on Chicago history and currently works full-time as a historical interpreter, author, and public speaker.

Learn more! Leslie Goddard featured as"this week's Chicagoan" in theChicago Reader: 

Click here to view a video excerpt from the program, "Jane Austen and her Women."

Click here to view a video recording of the program "Mary Chesnut"

Click here to video a video recording of the program "Gone With the Wind and the Construction of Civil War Memory"

The Chicagoans video
       featuring Leslie Goddard!
Click here for a new video featuring Leslie Goddard as part of Groundfire Pictures' series, The Chicagoans.
Or cut-and-paste this link --

Contact Information
Please contact me if you'd like more information about a program or would like to inquire about a specific date. Check the "calendar" page first to see if a particular date is already booked.

Leslie Goddard


When do you offer programs?

I am available weekdays and weekends, daytime and evening.

How far in advance should I book?

As early as possible because popular dates often fill up quickly. If want a specific date and contact me less than two months in advance, you might well find that the date is booked. I recommend booking at least three to four months in advance. However, if the date and time you’re interested in is not in great demand, or if you have flexibility, you might have no problem. I’ve booked programs with as little advance notice at one week!

Could you create a new program for us or adapt an existing program to suit our special interests?

In most cases, no. It takes a lot of time, effort, and creativity to create a new program, so any new program or adaption needs to be carefully considered and must have sufficient widespread appeal or match my own personal historical and research interest. I rarely take on a new/adapted program unless it can become a part of permanent repertoire, meaning it must have broad appeal to a wide range of audiences, including libraries, senior groups, women’s clubs, museums, and civic organizations. And on the rare cases when I am able to take on a commission, I usually have to charge a separate fee for developing it because of the effort it takes to produce each program. My programs take a lot of time and research and energy to produce and I could never create them for free, if I did I would go broke!

How much space do you need?

I can work with many different size spaces, and usually do. A formal stage is not required. As long as there’s enough room to walk around a little bit, maybe a space that’s about 6 feet by 9 feet or so, that should do.

Do you require a deposit?

No. No money is required upfront. I do, however, request payment in full on the date of the program unless alternative arrangements are made in advance.

How long does each program run?

-- The portrayals run about 45-50 minutes plus Q and A, and are done as short one-woman plays -- that is, in costume and with props. Usually the only thing needed is a table for some props and maybe a microphone (lapel is great but handheld will also work
-- The lectures run about 55-60 minutes plus Q and A. They are extensively researched and go into some historical depth but also are designed to be fun and nostalgic. I use Powerpoint to make them come alive with lots of photographs and sometimes little quiz questions to keep everyone engaged.

Will you agree not to present the program I’ve just booked at any other venue in my area in the months around my booking?

Sadly, I cannot. Too many factors come into play. Sometimes similar venues compete for the same audiences. Sometimes they do not. You might be surprised at how often similar venues in the same region, or even in the same town, do not compete for the same audience. It’s impossible for me to know who competes with whom and with more than 250 presentations a year, I cannot keep track of all surrounding community presentations. However, I do understand when an organization is worried not to lose their audiences. Keep an eye on my online calendar, which is updated approximately once a month. If you see that another venue in your area that competes for your same audience has booked the same program as you, feel free to let me know. I’d be happy to offer you an alternate program, sometimes even a new program that’s set to debut.

Would you be willing to present a free program for us?

When it comes to offering free performances, I am culturally and community minded and have special causes that I sometimes will support with performances at no cost, usually fundraisers. Because this is my livelihood, and there are only so many days in a year, I have limited ability to fully donate my performances. I reserve all my no-fee programs for my pet causes, usually causes that have been selected by me, within my own community.

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