Museum

Photo contributed

Jessica Michna is shown as she portrays Edith Galt Wilson, wife of US President Woodrow Wilson. Michna, who was awarded the Presidential Service Center’s Distinguished Service Award in 2016, will present a program about the former First Lady on Nov. 3 at the Old Courthouse Museum.

The general public is invited to a program on Edith Galt Wilson, wife of US President Woodrow Wilson, at 2 p.m. Nov. 3. Her appearance is being sponsored by the Iroquois County Historical Society and will take place in the courtroom of the museum, 103 W. Cherry, Watseka.

Michna is originally from Pennsylvania. She developed a love of history at an early age as she and her family visited many historic sites throughout the US. During her school years she appeared in various productions, along with being part of costume designing and construction. After she graduated she was offered several scholarships to further her studies in theater arts, instead she opted to earn a degree in psychology from the UW system and worked as a researcher and lecturer several years.

Her love of theater and history eventually led her to the founding of her own company – “First Impressions.” Since its founding in 2000, Michna has expanded her repertoire to included 17 historic figures. Some of the historical figures she portrays are: Mrs. Charles Dickens, Golda Meir, Cordelia Harvey, Jenny Appleseed, Abigail Adams, Frances Folsom Cleveland, Helen Keller, Mary Todd Lincoln – Presidential and Widow, Sari (Ma) Semple, Margaret Cummins, Dolley Madison, Mary Ann Bickerdyke and Laura Ingalls Wilder. More information about Michna and the women she portrays can be found on her website: www.historicalfirstimpressions.com.

Michna received the Presidential Service Center’s Distinguished Service Award in 2016 for her riveting portrayals of First Ladies. She has appeared before varied audiences, including appearances at the Lincoln Boyhood Home National Site, National Churchill Museum and Valley Forge. She is particularly fond of performing for communities and senior groups. She credits the life experiences of those in her senior audiences for enhancing her understanding of life stories. She often reminds her audience members everyone has a history and encourages them to record their own life stories.

Michna has said, “History is not a litany of which general died under which tree. It is the story and life experiences of each human life.”

In her portrayal of Mrs. Wilson, she will relate how the First Lady tried to protect her husband’s place in history after he suffered a stroke which severely affected his left side. Edith Galt married the President during his term in office and took the reins in screening all matters of state and decided which were important enough to bring to the bedridden president. White House physicians kept President Wilson’s condition quiet until many years after he had left office and passed on.

Michna will appear in period appropriate costume and will field questions from audience members after her presentation.

The ICHS is the non-profit supporter of the museum, which houses hundreds of displays and exhibits depicting the townships and communities, people and government, which made Iroquois County what it is today. This is a free program, but donations are always accepted. For more information on this, or other programs and activities sponsored by the ICHS, call 815-432-2215. Business hours are 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., Monday through Friday.