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.]

Requirements for most lectures:

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

In this illustrated lecture, we'll explore the life of Britain's most famous monarch, from her childhood, the abdication of her uncle, her marriage to a dashing navy officer named Philip, her World War II service, and her struggle to balance the roles of queen and mother. You'll get a close-up view of her "red boxes," her relationships with her children and their often-disastrous marriages, her grandchildren, and friends. Get to know the woman behind the image and the spirited personality, sense of humor and savvy intelligence with which she meets her demanding obligations.

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

Also Available:

  • 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 its beginnings in 1852 to its demise in 2006. Photographs, ads, postcards, and memorabilia trace the store's cherished traditions - the Walnut Room Christmas tree, the legendary window displays, and, of course, Frango Mints. [Based on Goddard's book, Remembering Marshall Field's, Arcadia Publishing, 2011.]

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.

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. Click HERE to watch In the Loop's (PBS-WYCC) 4-minute segment on Marshall Field's at Christmas featuring an interview with me (segment begins at about 21:52 into the 30-minute program)

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
Queen Elizabeth II:
The Extraordinary Life of a Modern Monarch

More than 75 years after its blockbuster premiere in 1939, the film Gone with the Wind continues to draw devoted fans. Using photographs and short clips from the movie, we'll explore how the film was made. Learn about the casting of the movie, the special effects used, and the incredible public reaction. How can we account for this movie's remarkably enduring popularity? And does Gone With the Wind still matter in how we understand the American South and the Civil War?  

Gone With the Wind:
The Making of a Hollywood Classic
Chicago's Sweet Candy History

Leslie Goddard

Georgia O'Keeffe:

The Inspiration of Place

Explore the relationship between Georgia O'Keeffe's life and her works, especially her closeness to New Mexico, whose stark beauty inspired her work, both as an artist and as a person. Note: This is a lecture not a portrayal.

A Christmas Carol:

How Charles Dickens Wrote the Book that Rescued His Career and Reinvented Our Holiday

This fun lecture chronicles how Dickens created A Christmas Carol, shaping many of our holiday traditions.

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.

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


available for 2017

Queen Victoria:
The Legendary Life of a Glorious Monarch