Susan L. Nenadic

Susan L. Nenadic is a retired high school teacher of English and history. She is the author of A Purse of her Own: Occupations of Nineteenth Century Women and Legendary Locals of Ann Arbor as well as many articles. Ms. Nenadic provides programs throughout Michigan and teaches classes for Elderwise and Adult Learning Institute. She is a former board member of the Washtenaw County Historical Society for which she was in charge of museum exhibitions and a member of the Ann Arbor Street Exhibit Educational Committee. She is currently president of a non-profit, Friends of Amoru, which is financing a secondary school in rural Uganda. Ms. Nenadic is working on a book about a Michigan woman who owned and operated one of the most productive gold mines in Montana.  Note, you can download of .pdf of Susan’s program here.

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Programs offered by Susan L. Nenadic, The History Maven

American Expansion:
Michigan Mania
One woman compared the opening of the Michigan Territory to the frenzy caused by the discovery of gold in California. Unlike the far west, Michigan was settled by families, so stories about women and children are included. Why did they come, how did they come and what problems did they face? I actually have two versions of this program. One includes men and women. The other focuses only on women

Women of the West
We think of the far west as a male dominated experience during the 19th century. While demographics support that, there were quite a few fascinating women who made their mark. Beginning with pioneers in early 1800’s and including early settlers, professional women and reformers, this program will provide and entirely new perception of the western experience.

Dangerous Experiment
The great issue of the 19th century was not suffrage but education. Advocates of women’s suffrage, such as Elizabeth Cady Stanton, were educated women. Washtenaw County boasted not only many co-ed high schools but the nation’s first normal school west of the Alleghenies. The University of Michigan opened its doors to women in 1970 and became the foremost University to do so. A University degree allowed women to enter the professions and rise to prominent positions in the state and nation.

A-maize-ing Alumnae
Once the University of Michigan opened its doors to women in 1870, coeds flocked to Ann Arbor to study a variety of subjects. This program presents the first woman to teach at UM as well as the first woman to teach at Harvard. The list includes engineers, doctors, dentists, attorneys and a university president.

A Purse of Her Own
This program derives from my book of the same title which examines the changes in women’s employment in the 19th century. Though the examples are from southeastern Michigan, the background trends apply throughout the United States. It will dispel many of the stereotypes promulgated in novels and film. In addition to the typical roles, women also operated businesses and joined the professions. Medicine was the most popular; however, women did practice law.

Fainting Couches and Physical Fitness
We have been told that women of the 19th century were weak and fragile needing the protection of men. This program examines the effects of urban living, fashion, and lack of physical exercise on women’s health. It also concerns women’s mental health issues. Depression was common and often led to suicide.

This is a sequel to “Fainting Couches and Physical Fitness.” It discusses marriage and intimacy. We have been told that women wanted to be married but were uninformed and unhappy about the sexual side of marriage. This program demonstrates just how wrong that stereotype is. Listeners will be shocked to know that the last three decades of the 19th century had more unmarried women that ever before. They will also learn about the methods of contraception commonly practices and the misconceptions we have heard about the dangers of childbirth.

Crime and Punishment:
Michigan’s Criminal Past
This program presents a perspective seldom considered by most people interested in Michigan history. In the 19th century Michigan was the nation’s leader in prison reform. Not only was it the first state to ban the death penalty, Michigan gained fame for its enlightened treatment of young people, first time offenders, and women. Michigan considered punishment vs reform and chose the latter.

Female Felons
This program focuses on the problems that arose concerning treatment of women who have been convicted of a crime. Judges hated to send women to prison because those facilities were dangerous for girls and women. Michigan was the first state to address these problems and provide suitable confinement and training for the women to obtain employment upon discharge.

The Civil War:
Seeing the Elephant
The Civil War has been presented from the male perspective. Most of us have not heard about the hundreds of women who dressed as men and fought with men and/or spied for the Union. Some went to prisons such as Andersonville, and many perished unsung during that ghastly war. This presentation focuses on Michigan women though there were many more in both the Union and the Confederacy.

History on the Go
This program provides a review of the Civil War through National and State Parks including ones west of the Mississippi River. Sites not commonly known would be the U.S. Prisoner of War Museum at Andersonville, GA; Ft Bent in Colorado and The Civil War Medical Museum in Frederick, MD And I confess I added a few state sites which are too good to exclude.

The Shakespeare Authorship Debate
What do we really know about the man from Stratford? Did he really write the works of Shakespeare or have we been played? And if he did not, who did? What is the evidence related to this controversy?

Dining with Shakespeare
Using quotations from the Bard as well as historical data about Elizabethan England, this program offers a peak at culinary matters of the 16th century.

Significant 19th century Women:

The Whole Loaf This program concerns the “Woman Question” Its most well- known goal was woman suffrage, but it also worked towards equality of the genders. Issues such as property law, divorce law, guardianship of children etc. were equally important. The enigmatic title reflects a Michigan Senator who helped write the 14th Amendment and said it was only half the loaf. In Michigan half the loaf meant the ability to vote in local school elections but nothing else. This program focuses on the obstacles that stood in the way of achieving all of these objectives.

Well Behaved Women Seldom Make History #1 and #2
There are so many interesting women most of whom we have never heard. This theme had resulted in two different programs: #1 about 19th century women, the other about women born in the late 19th century but made their in the early 20th century. Examples include reformers, professionals, and adventurers etc

Famous (and not so Famous) American Sisters
Each in her own way they contributed to country’s history. Examples include the Beechers, the Grimkes, the Blackwell, and the Peabody sisters made their mark in education, medicine, and social reform. This program also includes three sets of sisters whose lives were more notorious.

Significant Men and Women:
Fascinating American Families
Certain family names reverberate through American history: Booth would be one example. The Rogers and the Clarks merged two families by marriage as did the Biddles. In addition, there are less famous, but no less important, families like the Levys whose ancestor save Monticello from ruin.

Husbands and Wives
This program takes a look at 20th century spouses who collaborated in their various life’s work. Examples include spouses in different fields, such as cryptology, architecture, politics, science and entertainment.

The Problems in Researching 19th century Women
Ghost Hunting
Focusing on my own experience, this program considers the problems intrinsic to researching 19th century women who have been eradicated or distorted by the historical record. They are history’s ghosts. They were there, but we have not acknowledged their lives and contributions. It offers a potpourri of interesting stories and the various ways I learned about them

To reserve a program email Susan at:  All programs utilize power point and are approximately 50 minutes in length.