Bertha Palmer and Her Family in Sarasota (On Demand)

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Age Group:

Adults , Seniors

Program Description


Learn about the impact of Bertha Palmer and her family on the development of the Sarasota County area, as told by Bertha's biographer Frank A. Cassell, and Bertha herself, as portrayed by Kathryn Chesley.


Dr. Frank A. Cassell is Professor Emeritus and President Emeritus at the University of Pittsburgh at Greensburg.  He earned the BA in Indiana, and his M.A. and Ph. D. degrees at Northwestern University.  He taught and served as an administrator at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee and Roosevelt University in Chicago before taking the presidency at Univ of Pitt-Greensburg.  Cassell has published books and articles on the colonial and early national periods of American history, the Columbian Exposition of 1893, social history in Indiana in the 19th century, and his experiences as a university president. 


The Florida Book Awards awarded Suncoast Empire: Bertha Honoré Palmer, Her Family, and the Rise of Sarasota the 2017 silver award for nonfiction.  It is the One Book Sarasota 2021 selection. His latest book, Creating Sarasota County, was written to provide historical support for the Sarasota County Centennial 2021 celebration.


Kathryn Chesley is a theater educator and trained actress with a love of history, Kathryn performs “Life and Times Portrayals” of historic women. Currently, she is portraying: Bertha Palmer, Marie Selby, Mary Jane Whitaker, Mina Edison, Pearl Whitfield, Rose Wilson, suffragette Carrie Chapman Catt and Mable Ringling. She is a member of the Sarasota Area Playwrights’ Society, Asolo Theater Guild Play Readers, Friends of the History Center, the Historical Society of Sarasota County, The Venice Historical Society and is on the Sarasota Centennial Planning Committee. Kathryn is a national presenter with the National Women’s History Alliance. She is also a local tour guide for Discover Sarasota Tours.


Presented as part of the Sarasota County One Book and Centennial programming.