Sycamore Public Library welcomes Mary Todd Lincoln for historical Q and A session


Laura F. Keyes portrays Mary Todd Lincoln telling stories of her life in Historic Carnegie Rotunda in the Sycamore Public Library Monday evening.

By Ryan Felgenhauer

Mary Todd Lincoln stepped out of the past to answer questions at the Sycamore Public Library Monday.

The event featured Laura Keyes, a Mary Todd Lincoln presenter.

Keyes began by presenting a monologue about Mary Todd Lincoln’s life.

She spoke as if she were Mary Todd Lincoln in 1847, as she and Abraham prepared to make their move to Washington so he could take his seat in Congress, Keyes said.

Keyes said she intended to give people a greater understanding of a historical person surrounded by misinformation.

“There’s lots of misinformation out there,” Keyes said. “People don’t know the whole story. This is a way for me to set the record straight.”

After the presentation, there was a question and answer segment from the audience.

“I usually spend more time on questions than I do on the presentation,” Keyes said.

Keyes wore an elaborate period-accurate dress and spoke in an accent Mary Todd Lincoln might have used.

“I strive for authenticity as much as possible,” Keyes said.

The program was planned when the library board asked for a Civil War history program.

“We were looking for a living history program, since they have done very well in the past,” said Katherine Keyes, assistant director for the Sycamore Public Library and sister to the presenter. “And I knew right away who to ask.”

The program was planned as a way to show those in attendance how people in the past lived lives similar to those of modern people.

“I wanted to bring everyday life to light,” Keyes said. “They lived their lives, just like everyone else. It brings the past into the present.”

Some attendees came to learn more about a well-known figure from Illinois.

“I liked that she presented it in character,” said DeKalb resident Ellyn Jacobsen. “I love everything about Lincoln.”