For over 30 years, Dr. Janet Worthington has been presenting women and girls from history and literature. In period costume, she speaks as the noted woman and dramatically recounts her life experiences. She then answers questions both as the historic/literary figure and as herself. She has presented in Virginia, West Virginia, New York, Louisiana, South Carolina, and throughout Idaho.
Janet Evans Worthington received her B.A. from the University of Chicago, her M.S. from the University of Iowa, and her Ph.D. from Florida State University. She taught English at West Virginia Institute of Technology, Nicholls State University in Louisiana, and is a former dean and Professor Emeritus from Plattsburgh State University of New York. Dr. Worthington currently teaches seminars for the Center for Professional Development at Boise State University. For more information about Janet, Please visit her website at http://www.women-of-history.com.
Abigail Adams, the wife of the second President of the United States, played a key role in the founding of the country and the establishment of the new government. Dr. Janet Worthington, as Abigail Adams, reminisces on her many duties and how she managed to bring together her beliefs and responsibilities at a most tumultuous time in the history of the United States.
Abigail Smith Adams was a woman of strong beliefs who supported the creation of the United States of America. She believed in doing one’s duty, leading a life of integrity and hard work. Despite her lack of formal education, she presented brilliant arguments to her husband and her son, both of whom would become presidents, thus leaving her mark on the evolution of the American government. As Abigail Adams, Janet Worthington presents both the personal life and political connections of our second first lady. Abigail’s reactions to the American Revolution, to slavery, and most of all to her dearest friend, her husband John Adams, inspire love and respect for this woman who sacrificed so much for her country.
When Amelia Stewart Knight left Iowa for her new home in Oregon in 1853, she was certainly aware of the harsh realities of the Oregon Trail and of the daily drudgeries she would endure caring for her seven children and five hired hands. Her diary of the journey contained few complaints; her feelings were consumed with concern for her children and even the animals that traveled with them. As Amelia Stewart Knight, Worthington brings to the audience a sense of the woman’s perspective on the Oregon Trail adventure: forced to leave family and friends, she sought to provide a modicum of cleanliness and the comforts of home and kept alive the hope for a better future for her children.
In 1894, Laura and Almanzo Wilder left DeSmet, South Dakota, and traveled to Mansfield, Missouri, where they bought property they called “Rocky Ridge Farm.” Dr. Worthington explores these later years, comparing and contrasting them to scenes in the Little House books. She also delves into the personal life of Laura Ingalls Wilder—how her core beliefs directed her life and how she dealt with the fame she realized as a favorite children’s author.
In her beloved series of books for young people, Laura Ingalls Wilder portrayed pioneer life as an idyllic adventure, filled with warmth and love. As Laura, Janet Worthington recounts the westward movement and Pa’s consistent desire to find new lands, the hardships the family faced in each new location, and the joys of making a life in the wilderness. In addition, Janet as Laura presents tales of her husband’s youth in northern New York state.
Louisa Catherine Adams: Wife of John Quincy Adams While Louisa Catherine Adams did not experience the love and companionship that her mother-in-law Abigail Adams enjoyed, she was nonetheless a woman of courage and determination, and was more cosmopolitan. She was born in London and followed John Quincy Adams to Berlin and later St. Petersburg on diplomatic missions. Because Louisa Catherine spoke French fluently, she managed to save herself and her entourage when French soldiers accosted them during their chilling winter journey across Europe. In this Chautauqua presentation, Janet Worthington takes you inside the life of this first lady, exploring her happiness and depression, her failures and successes.
Louisa May Alcott’s intriguing life provided many of the details for her much-loved novel Little Women, including the portrait of her long-suffering mother and her three sisters. As Janet Worthington recounts the many hardships the family faced, she shows how Louisa provided strength and comfort for all her family, and she describes how her novels evolved from her life experiences with famous writers, such as Ralph Waldo Emerson and Nathaniel Hawthorne.
Born in Virginia in 1731, Martha Dandridge married Daniel Park Custis and had four children, two of whom died in childhood. When her husband died suddenly leaving her a very wealthy widow, she was courted by and married General George Washington. When Washington was elected the first President of the United States, Martha Washington was honored as "Lady Washington," having served her country well throughout the American Revolution.
In 1755, Mary Draper Ingles, a pioneer in a Virginia farming area, was captured by the Shawnee Indians and taken to their camp in the region that is now Ohio. After her sons were taken from her, she and an old Dutch woman made their escape and succeeded in walking back home along the Ohio River, the Kanawha River and the New River—a journey of 43 days through uncharted wilderness. Janet Worthington recounts the many trials she experienced along this route and her joy on being reunited with her husband.
Mary Hallock Foote An acclaimed author and illustrator, Mary Hallock Foote left her New York home to follow her husband Arthur Foote into the frontier American West. Janet Worthington explores the many talents of Mary Hallock Foote as she portrays her experiences in Colorado, Idaho, California and Mexico and creates novels and illustrations that brought new insights into life in mining camps and ranches. Her twelve novels, as well as her illustrations for such classic writers as Louisa May Alcott Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, Nathaniel Hawthorne and Bret Harte, demonstrate her talents for transforming her life into artistic work.
Mary Todd Lincoln was one of the daughters in a prominent family in Lexington. Kentucky. In 1839, Mary moved to Springfield, Illinois, to live with her older sister, where she was very popular and dated Stephen A. Douglas and Abraham Lincoln. Lincoln won her heart, and in 1842, she married him.
As Janet Worthington explores Mary Lincoln’s life as first lady, she describes refurbishing the White House, her opposition to slavery, and her strong support of her husband's pro-Union policies, in addition to Mary’s reaction to criticism for her numerous shopping sprees and her relatives who sided with the South in the war.
After Lincoln’s death in 1865, Mary Lincoln moves to Chicago with her son Tad. Financial woes continue to plague her as she waits for the settlement of her husband’s estate and a pension from Congress. This presentation focuses on her battles in later life, not only with money, but also with the death of loved ones and her mental health.
When Isabella of Castile married Ferdinand of Aragon, they united Spain under Catholic monarchs. Hoping to gain many new converts to Christianity, Queen Isabella agreed to sponsor Christopher Columbus’ expedition to the New World in 1492. She cared greatly for these Native Americans and even left instructions for their care in her will. Janet Worthington portrays Isabella in her later years, as she recounts her reign over a glorious period in Spanish history, as well as her part in the Spanish Inquisition.