Annette M. Baldwin has been researching and performing first-person monologues of women in history since launching her portrayal of humanitarian and peace advocate Jane Addams 20+ years ago. Baldwin’s Historical Portrayals, Readers Theater, and Visual Journeys have been presented to audiences in nearly 200 communities in eighteen states. She has appeared at public libraries, professional associations, colleges and universities, community organizations, for business and special events, government agencies, and at historical societies and museums, including the National Museum of American History at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C. Baldwin is also a former Road Scholar with the Illinois Humanities Council.
Annette’s past professional experience has inspired and guided many of her choices for developing her First Person Histories and her Visual Journey discussions, with a passion for mid-19th through early 20th century women’s history as the foundation for all of her programs. As a former editor at the Chicago Chapter of the American Institute of Architects, Baldwin became interested in the California architect Julia Morgan, familiar to the general public primarily as architect of William Randolph Hearst’s estate at San Simeon, California. While at the AIA, Baldwin also became aware of the work of Mary Jane Colter, architect and designer for the Fred Harvey Company and the Santa Fe Railroad. Baldwin’s research and development of a monologue for performance as Coco Chanel stems from Baldwin’s past experience as a fashion director for Marshall Field’s. Her work at the AIA along with her love for architecture, vintage clothing and art resulted in such programs as a portrayal of the American sculptor Louise Nevelson and Visual Journeys discussions, such as The Arts and the Art of Dressing: 1920s Style and The Carnegie Library in Illinois, for which she traveled the state to record first-hand each library’s history.
Baldwin’s experience at many levels in community theater – acting and directing in particular – was not only the impetus for inaugurating her current work as a solo performer and a lecturer, but it inspired her Readers Theater productions, Literary Lovers, By Necessity/By Choice, and Living the War. Having performed and lectured in the state Humanities Council Chautauquas of Illinois, Missouri, Colorado, Nevada, Maryland and New Hampshire, Baldwin has led dozens of discussions on a variety of themes involving women’s history, the Civil War, fashion, and architecture.