Elegant Indulgence: The History and Rituals of Afternoon Tea

For many Chicagoans, no Christmas season was complete without a visit to Marshall Field and Co. We'll trace the store's holiday traditions, including the Walnut Room Christmas tree, the window displays, the toy department, and the catalogs. Ever have your photo taken with Santa in Cozy Cloud Cottage? Remember Uncle Mistletoe and Aunt Holly? A fun and fascinating look at one of Chicago's most beloved holiday traditions. (NOTE: This is not the same program as Remembering Marshall Field's. Scroll up for info on that.) 

The Colorful History of The Little Black Dress

Clustered mostly on State Street, stores like Marshall Field’s, Carson Pirie Scott, Sears, Wieboldt’s and Goldblatt’s set new standards for retail innovation, customer services and visual display. This nostalgic illustrated lecture revisits Chicago’s fabulous retail emporiums and explores their rise and fall.

Chicago's Bygone Department Stores

This beautifully illustrated lecture explores the history and elegant artistry of afternoon tea. Learn why afternoon was so popular with the Victorians and Edwardians, what a proper menu includes, and why the custom of afternoon tea remains so enduringly appealing.

Chicago's Sweet Candy History
Remembering Route 66
Christmas at Marshall Field's

Holiday Themed Programs

Christmas in the Movies
  • Screen or white wall on which to project slides
  • Projector and laptop, unless arrangements have been made for me to bring mine
  • Table for approx. 20-25 artifacts
  • Microphone (lapel preferred), if needed or desired by presenting organization
Betty Crocker and Her Cookbook That Changed How America Cooks

Can't take a road trip this year? Travel back in time instead to explore the history of the "mother road" that linked Chicago to LA from 1926 to 1985.

America's First Ladies:
The Best, the Worst, and the Strangely Forgotten

In this illustrated lecture, historian Leslie Goddard, Ph.D., explores the history of this fashion icon. Learn how Chanel helped dissociate black from mourning, how Audrey Hepburn helped establish the LBD; and how it has been reinvented by everyone from Betty Boop to Versace.

Did you know Cary Grant was supposed to star in It's a Wonderful Life? That the gym-floor-turned-swimming-pool was real? That the movie bombed at the box office? Even if you've seen the holiday classic It's a Wonderful Life 150 times, you'll have fun exploring the movie's creation including how the script evolved, how the cast was chosen, and the technical challenges that were overcome. Enjoy rare photographs taken behind-the-scenes and find out what happened to the cast.

The role of First Lady comes with no job description and no pay. Yet America's presidential spouses have wielded great influence and endured intense public scrutiny. In this fascinating lecture, we'll explore which First Ladies have ranked highest and lowest (or most in-between) with historians and why. Who do you think was best or worst? Why were some so vilified? And what might the future hold for the role of American First Lady?

Who Was Typhoid Mary?

Christmas in America from the 1940s through the 1960s meant aluminum trees, department store Santas and cartoon specials on the television. Every kid in the suburbs wanted an Easy Bake Oven, a G.I. Joe or a Slinky. The coolest houses had trees with rotating color wheels. Historian Leslie Goddard explores this optimistic era in a new illustrated lecture, using photographs, advertisements, greeting cards and catalog to explore why this era was a turning point for how we celebrate the holidays.

For more than 150 years, Marshall Field and Co. reigned as Chicago's leading department store. This talk traces the store's history from 1852 to its demise in 2006. Photos, ads, postcards, and memorabilia trace the store's cherished traditions - the Walnut Room, the legendary window displays, and, of course, Frango Mints. [Based on Goddard's book, Remembering Marshall Field's, Arcadia, 2011.] (PLEASE NOTE: This is not the same program as Christmas at Marshall Field's. Scroll down for info on that.)

It's a Wonderful Life:
The Making of a Holiday Classic

Lectures

available for 2020

Also Available:

Remembering Marshall Field's

Gone With the Wind:

The Making of a Hollywood Classic

Go behind-the scenes of the one of the greatest movies ever made in this illustrated lecture.


Votes for Women

The 72-Year Struggle for Women's Suffrage

Explore the struggle from 1848 -- when the first call for women's votes was issued at Seneca Falls -- to 1920 when the 19th amendment gave all American women the vote.

The fascinating of the most famous healthy carrier of a deadly virus in history.

A fun new lecture, perfect for anyone struggling with failed baking projects

Requirements for most lectures:

Leslie Goddard

For most its history, Chicago  produced one-third of the nation's candy.  You probably know some of them -- Brach's caramels, Mars Snickers bars, Wrigley's gum, Cracker Jack, Curtiss Baby Ruth bars, Tootsie Rolls, Frango Mints, Dove chocolates. Learn some of the history behind these tasty treats and explore what made Chicago such a powerful location for candymakers. Delicious! [Based on Goddard's book, Chicago's Sweet Candy History, published by Arcadia in 2012.]