Kathryn is an accomplished speaker, having given more than 200 talks in person and by Zoom about Marguerite LeHand, the Roosevelts and other American history topics at venues including the FDR Presidential Library and Museum in Hyde Park, New York, the National World War II Museum in New Orleans and dozens of civic clubs, book clubs and senior communities in twelve states. In her talk about Marguerite LeHand, she performs in period costume in the persona of the famous woman, giving a sassy and humorous low-down on life with the Roosevelts. Her talk on Gertrude Sanford Legendre is punctuated with hats, from a pith helmet to a designer chapeau, like the ones the real Gertie wore. And when she talks about Baptists and Bootleggers, she is happy to share a cocktail or two – but no bathtub gin, please!
Missy LeHand Tells All.
Marguerite A. LeHand worked for President Franklin Roosevelt for more than 20 years as his private secretary, counselor, confidant and friend. In this presentation, Smith wears period costume and speaks with Missy’s Boston accent about her time with FDR. Mid-talk, she removes Missy’s hat, tells “the rest of the story,” about Missy’s life and the writing of the The Gatekeeper, her biography of LeHand (2016, Touchstone of Simon & Schuster).
The Many Lives of Gertrude Sanford Legendre.
Aiken County native and long-time Berkeley County resident Legendre (1902-2000), subject of the biography Gertie, lived a big life. She was a New York rich girl and debutante, equestrienne and big-game hunter, flapper and party-goer, explorer and naturalist, society bride and socialite, South Carolina plantation owner and hostess, World War II OSS manager and German prisoner of war, philanthropist and grande dame of Charleston society and, finally, a conservationist. Her full story is the subject of Gertie: The Fabulous Life of Gertrude Sanford Legendre – Heiress, Explorer, Socialite, Spy (Evening Post Books, 2019).
Baptists and Bootleggers: Prohibition in the South.
Many years before the production and sale of alcohol was banned in the United States by the Eighteenth Amendment, the forces of temperance waged political warfare with the purveyors of alcohol. Most Southern states went dry long before the rest of the country did, and as a result, had a ready-made alcohol pipeline manned by moonshine-makers and rum-runners when Prohibition went into effect in 1920. In this illustrated lecture, you’ll meet such colorful characters as saloon wrecker Carry Nation, gangster Al Capone (who made many visits to the South) and New York socialite and part-time Charleston resident Pauline Morton Sabin, who led the charge for repeal with an army of “Sabine women.” Illustrated lecture is based on the book Baptists and Bootleggers: A Prohibition Expedition Through the South…with Cocktail Recipes (Evening Post Books, 2021).
The Marriage of Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt.
One of the first true “power couples,” the Roosevelts were leaders of tremendous influence in the twentieth century, leading America for 12 tumultuous years, from 1933 to 1945. Eleanor Roosevelt is usually credited with creating the role of the modern First Lady. However, their marriage was a difficult one, marked by betrayal, bitterness and anger—right until the president’s death. Illustrated lecture.
How FDR Vanquished Polio.
Few Americans remember that FDR, besides leading our country through the Great Depression and World War II, was also the founder of the National Foundation for Infantile Paralysis, better known as the March of Dimes. This charity fought the terrible scourge of polio with both assistance to the stricken and research to find a vaccine, finally working itself out of a job when the Salk Vaccine was perfected in 1955. This is a lively, personal look at the polio crusade — which continues today to mop up the last of this disease in third world countries. Illustrated lecture
How Shirley Temple Saved America.
The little actress was the nation’s top box office draw during the worst years of the Great Depression and helped Americans forget their troubles as she sang and danced away the troubles of the characters she played. She worked through her childhood, while her parents spent her money, but went on to successful later careers as a television actress and diplomat. Illustrated lecture.
*An honorarium for these lectures can be paid by the S.C. Humanities Council as long as the applicant is a South Carolina nonprofit organization or government entity and the lecture is free and open to the public (exceptions being made for retirement communities). A $250 in-kind match is required. Visit https://schumanities.org/projects/speakers/