Royal Weddings: From Queen Victoria to Prince Harry

You probably know Abraham Lincoln lived part of his life in Illinois, but did you know that Walt Disney, Betty Freidan and Charles Walgreen also called the Prairie State home? Join historian Leslie Goddard, Ph.D., for this illustrated lecture commemorating the state’s 2018 bicentennial. We’ll look at ten intriguing people from Illinois, including heads of state, newsmakers, inventors, and others. They are all from Illinois -- and they all changed the world.

Chicago's Sweet Candy History

Versatile, dependable, and affordable, the Little Black Dress, or “LBD,” has become the fashion equivalent of a Model T Ford. 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 Prada.

Also Available:

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


available for 2018

Queen Victoria:
The Legendary Life of a Glorious Monarch
Remembering Marshall Field's
Ten People From Illinois Who Changed the World (... Besides Abraham Lincoln)

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.

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 Christmas 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 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?

Christmas at Marshall Field's
The Colorful History of The Little Black Dress

Few events thrill us like a royal wedding. Both as public ceremonies and as personal milestones, these occasions feel like living fairytales. In this illustrated lecture, historian Leslie Goddard explores the history of ten regal marriages, including those of Queen Victoria, Queen Elizabeth II, Prince Charles, and Prince William. Beyond their glamour, how do these occasions work to strengthen notions of national identity? How have royal couples negotiated the balance between a significant personal occasion and powerful national pressures?

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.]

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.

Few American houses enjoy as lavish a holiday season as the White House. This beautifully illustrated talk explores the traditions that bring Christmas alive inside America’s most famous address: the gingerbread house tradition, the National Christmas Tree, and the thousands of ornaments created by artists around the country over the years. Did you know Dwight Eisenhower and Jackie Kennedy used their own paintings on Christmas cards?  Or that Andrew Jackson once hosted an indoor snowball fight? Take an insider’s view of one of the most historic homes in the world during the most magical time of the year.

  • 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
Christmas Traditions at the White House

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.]

In this illustrated lecture, explore the life of Victoria, Queen of Great Britain and sovereign of an empire on which the sun never set. Using a wealth of photographs, paintings and objects, we'll chronicle Victoria's rise to the throne at the age of 18, her marriage to Prince Albert of Saxe-Coburg and her astonish reign of 64 years. Why, more than 100 years after her death, does Victoria's influence endure today?

Note: This is a lecture, not a living-history portrayal.

Leslie Goddard

Requirements for most lectures:

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