How far in advance should I book?
I recommend 5 to 6 months in advance, especially if you have a particular date in mind.

What does "private event" mean on your website calendar?

It simply means that event is not open to the public. These are often private clubs or retirement communities not able to open their events to the general public.


Could you create a new program for us or adapt an existing program to suit our special interests?
Sadly, no. Given the number of presentations I give annually, I don't have the ability to create custom programs or adapt existing programs.

Do you require a deposit?
Not at all. No deposit is required to book a date. 


How do I book a program?​

It's easy. First, check my calendar page to see if the date you're interested in is already booked. Then, send me an email at Once have the details set, I'll write up a confirmation letter (or you can send me yours, if you have one.) To avoid mishaps, no program is considered booked until we have paperwork confirming the details. That's it!


Do you send out a separate invoice too?

No, I don't automatically include an invoice but I'm happy to provide one. Just let me know.


What is the most common mistakes people make in booking you?

Booking a date and time but leaving the program choice "TBD" for now, and then never telling me which program you want. You'd be surprised how often this happens!

How long does each program run?
-- The portrayals run about 45-50 minutes plus Q and A.
-- The lectures run about 55-60 minutes plus Q and A.

I asked you about availability but now your calendar says you're booked that day.
I sometimes get dozens of emails and phone calls a day, and it occasionally happens that a date you're interested in will be booked just a few days later. Please don't feel offended if a date that was open a few days ago is no longer available. Out of fairness to everyone, bookings are done on a first-come, first-served basis.


Will you agree not to present the program I’ve just booked at any other venue in my area in the surrounding months?
I try to be mindful of this and will let you know if I notice any potential overlaps. However, with upwards of 400 events a year, it's just not possible for me to keep track of every event in every location. I do understand this concern, however. You can keep an eye on my website's calendar page, which is updated about once a month. Let me know if see anything that worries you.

Would you be willing to present a free (or discounted) program for us?
Because this is my livelihood, and there are only so many days in a year, I am not able to donate or discount my presentations. If cost is a consideration, I encourage groups to team up with other groups to share costs.


Do you travel out of state?

Yes, I regularly travel. For locations more than an hour's drive from my home in the southwest suburbs of Chicago, there is an additional mileage fee. For locations that require air travel, there is an additional travel fee to cover airfare, lodging and per diem expenses.

What are your fees?

For 2024, my rates are

-- For an in-person presentation in the greater Chicago area: $400

-- For an in-person presentation within 1-2 hours drive: $450 plus mileage

-- For a virtual presentation: $300

Contact me if you're interested in an out-of-state program or a prerecording


Could you mail me a brochure?

Better than that! You can download a printable brochure right here:


An online video series from the talented Rebecca Tulloch, featuring Q and A with First Ladies

Contact Me

Leslie Goddard, Ph.D., is an award-winning historian, author, actress and lecturer who has been presenting on topics in American history and women’s history for twenty years. She holds an interdisciplinary Ph.D. from Northwestern University as well as master’s degrees in both museum studies and in theater. A former museum director, she currently works full-time as a public speaker and author. Her presentations have been seen by audiences in more than thirty states, including scores of universities, museums, libraries, festivals, and civic organizations.

Born in Illinois, Leslie is known nationally for her work bringing women’s history alive. Her repertoire of famous women includes television personality and cook Julia Child, aviator Amelia Earhart, first ladies Eleanor Roosevelt and Jackie Kennedy, film star Bette Davis, novelist Louisa May Alcott, Titanic survivor Violet Jessop, and modern artist Georgia O’Keeffe. Her acclaimed portrayal of art collector and Chicago socialite Bertha Honore Palmer won the Philip A. Danielson Award from Westerners International.

Each year, she presents more than 400 performances and lectures for public libraries, professional associations, colleges and university, business and corporate events at historical societies and museums. She performed as a Road Scholar with the Illinois Humanities Council and has served on the board of directors of the Illinois State Historical Society, the Illinois Association of Museums, and the Civil War Round Table of Chicago.

During more than a decade working as a museum educator and exhibit developer, she developed a passion for mid-nineteenth through early twentieth century American history, popular culture, vintage clothing, and biography. She served as director of the Graue Mill and Museum in Oak Brook, IL, before founding her own business as a full-time solo performer and lecturer.

A lifelong resident of Illinois, she is the author of three books on Chicago history: Remembering Marshall Field’s, Lost Chicago Department Stores and Chicago’s Sweet Candy History. She graduated with an undergraduate degree in theater and English from Stanford University and lives in the Chicago suburbs with her husband Bruce and their two black pugs. 

About Me

To view clips from some of my programs, click on the titles below:

Photo by Karen Kring

Frequently Asked Questions

"Ask a First Lady"