Personalities under Research for Performances – your opinion counts

Part of the interesting challenge of bringing you Designing Excellence with Historical Echoes is selecting compelling women from history to research.  We often look for women who are ignored – but contributed significantly to history.  Additionally, we look for women who have been unfairly maligned by historians who wrote history from a male-centric point of view.  Finally, we look for women of special interest to us and our own fields of study.

DE Louise Thaden, aviatrix

Pioneer Aviatrix, Louise Thaden, performed by Bonnie Johnson

Clara Barton 2

Clara Barton, “Angel” on the Civil War Battlefield, 1st President of American Red Cross, and lobbyist responsible for the US signing the Geneva Convention Treaty.

Bonnie Johnson, as an aeronautical engineer, is particularly drawn to historical women in aviation.  Irene is  drawn to women in health related sciences and feminist, humanistic psychology.  Our personality research interests particularly relate to our own professional studies.

Research for a performances takes between 6 months and a year, so we plan for the future to provide the best for your experience.

January 28, 2017 (snow date: February 4)

Margaret Sanger   1879-1966 –  Margaret was disturbed by the hardships of women in the NY tenements who had no personal reproductive control of their lives.  Her efforts began in earnest in 1914.  At the time, the Federal Comstock law opposed anyone – including physicians – from providing information about women’s bodies or reproduction. 

Sex education was further linked in the minds of political leaders with the venereal diseases experienced in Europe by solders of WW I.  Sex education across state lines was punishable by fines and imprisonment.  Margaret and her husband provided respectful education and spent frequent periods in prison for their efforts. 

Some contraceptive knowledge was available in the first half of the 20th century, but sharing it was officially, Federally, forbidden until the 1970s when the  Comstock law was repealed and natural and medical contraceptive information could be widely and legally dispensed.

Margaret has been unfairly painted as an abortionist.  Her work with sex education was directed toward avoiding unwanted pregnancies and the self-induced abortions of the early 20th century.

March 11, 2017

Catherine the Great of Russia consolidated lands and brought the Russia of her time into modernity with Western respect and alliances.  Her work enabled French ships and other European traders to challenge the English blockade and deliver needed supplies to the efforts of the American Revolution.

John and Abigail Adam’s 14 year old son, John Quincy, was fluent in French.  When he and his Father visited Catherine’s court, he translated for the principals.  Catherine was also influential in protecting a safe haven for Russian Mennonites during her reign.  Later, Russian leaders forced them out and many into Kansas.

May 6, 2017  Family Tea:  children grades 4 – 12 with adult.

Dolley Madison – to be continued

August 19, 2017   (Note: change of performance person from Betsy Ross).

Helen (Nellie) Taft, First Lady who changed inaugral traditions in riding with her husband to the ceremonies.  Two months later, she suffered a stroke and through difficult perseverence ragained much of her abilities to fulfill hostess duties in the White House.

The recent PBS series on First Ladies acknowledges Nellie as unfairly ignored and forgotten for her Washington work.  Nellie was responsible for the development of West Potomac Park and the three thousand cherry trees planed there as a gift from Japan.

Nellie desired the White House and pushed her husband towards ppolitical success, following Theodore Roosevelt’s administration. Howard Taft went on then to fulfill his dream and became the Chief Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court.

October 7, 2017


Mamie Eisenhower, First Lady following World War II with her Kansas-born husband, President “Ike.” Learn about her influences and life, including the ubiquitous presence of “bubble gum pink” in fashion and interior designs.  Have you wondered about the pink tiles, bathtubs, and sinks of the houses built in the 1950s?

December 3, 2017 (Sunday) 2:30 – 4:30    Holiday, Royale, Afternoon Tea

Eleanor Roosevelt shares her stories of her role as First Lady for 12 years in the White House through personal and American struggles and triumphs.  She evolved into a feminist with the encouragement and support of her husband, FDR.

After FDRs death in 1945, Eleanor became active for International Human Rights as an adept chair of Committee Five at the newly formed United Nations.  Success of the committee stands today and was a direct tribute to her skills in handling the erasable men, including Russia’s Dr. Pavlov and our own State Department.

Thank you for sharing our story and work with many others.  We rely on your word-of-mouth and appreciate your continuing support.

Irene Nielsen, PsyD, MS, CNM, Artistic Director and Historical performer

All of our programs are available for contract at your location in addition to the Tea with Personality performances at the McPherson Opera House, McPherson, KS. 620-241-1952 or



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