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Thursdays at the U to feature historical portrayal of Mary Todd Lincoln

| Linda Tollefsrud

Would you like to learn the true story of one of our most misunderstood first ladies? Jessica Michna of Historical First Impressions theater company will portray Lincoln — sharing with the audience her tragedies and triumphs — during the next Thursdays at the U event at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire – Barron County. 

Jessica Michna as Mary Todd Lincoln

Jessica Michna as Mary Todd Lincoln

Michna’s portrayal, the final presentation of the spring series, will be from 12:30-1:30 p.m. May 9 in the Blue Hills Lecture Hall in Ritzinger Hall. It also will be livestreamed at

Mary Todd Lincoln’s life has come full circle as she returns to Springfield, Illinois, to take up residence with her sister Elizabeth. She recalls the days of her girlhood in the genteel society of Lexington, Kentucky, her marriage to the gangly young lawyer and, eventually, her rise to become the first lady of the United States.

After the murder of her husband, the president, Mary Todd Lincoln’s life unravels. She has lost not only her husband, but three of her four sons.

Originally from Pennsylvania, Michna developed a love of history at an early age. She and her family visited many historic sites throughout the U.S. Her school years would find her appearing in various productions and, upon graduation, several scholarships were offered to further her studies in theater arts.

She opted instead to earn a degree in psychology from the UW System, working for several years as a researcher and lecturer. Her love of theater and history eventually led Michna to found her company. In 2016, she was awarded the Presidential Service Center’s Distinguished Service award for her riveting portrayals of first ladies.

The Thursdays at the U weekly series is free and open to the public thanks to support from the UW-Eau Claire – Barron County Foundation. Neither seating reservations nor parking permits are needed for in-person attendees.

Although in-person attendance is encouraged, most talks in the series are livestreamed. They also are archived and can be watched later on the Thursdays at the U webpage.

The fall series will open Sept. 5, with Mary Hankins presenting “International Friendship Cultivated Here.”

For more information, call the campus at 715-788-6244 or email Dr. Linda Tollefsrud, the series organizer, at