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updated: 2/5/2014 5:49 PM

Local actress to present one-woman show about Mary Lincoln

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  • Gugala as Mary Lincoln in front of the Lincoln Home in Springfield, IL. July 2013

    Gugala as Mary Lincoln in front of the Lincoln Home in Springfield, IL. July 2013
    Brian Gugala

Valerie Gugala

Historian and actress Valerie Gugala will appear to set the historical record straight about Mary Todd Lincoln.

Dressed in costume and speaking as Mary Todd herself, Gugala will take the audience on a fascinating journey through the Lincoln family's life in Springfield, Abraham's political career, his election to the presidency, and their life in the White House during the Civil War.

Gugala is a historian and actress who has been studying Abraham and Mary Lincoln for as long as she can remember, and performing as and speaking about Mary Lincoln for almost 15 years. Her research has taken her through numerous books and biographies, as well as the Chicago History Museum, the Illinois State Historical Library Archives, the former Lincoln Museum in Fort Wayne, Ind., and the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum.

As one of the founders of Mary Lincoln's Coterie, a group devoted to the memory of Mary Lincoln, she has helped to organize weekends of events in Springfield to commemorate the anniversary of Mary Lincoln's death. Gugala was honored to be asked to perform at the Lincoln Home visitor's center, and to deliver the eulogy at the annual memorial service for Mary Lincoln in both 2011 and 2013.

Gugala is a member of the Association of Lincoln Presenters, and she was nominated by them as the "Best Mary Lincoln Presenter" in 2006, 2007 and 2008. In 2009 and 2010, she was nominated for the "Best Lincoln Team" award alongside her acting partner for their show "Divided: Mary Lincoln and Emilie Todd Helm."

In addition to her work as Mary Lincoln, Gugala is the theater producer and director for the Bartlett Park District community theater, and she appears onstage throughout the Chicago area as part of the acting troupe of "The Mystery Shop," a traveling interactive murder-mystery theater company.

Hear the story of "A Visit with Mrs. Lincoln" at 2pm Sunday February 9, 2014 at the Bartlett Nature Center Auditorium, 2054 W Stearns Rd, Bartlett. Tickets are $5 in advance and $7 at the door (if available) and seating is limited to 75 people. All proceeds from tickets will go to the Bartlett Park District Theatre Program. For tickets or more information, contact Stephanie Fitzsimons at 630-540-4834 or

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