Kim Sheahan Sanford



Kim Sheahan Sanford has been a central Illinois educator since 1991, incorporating oral traditions into her multicultural programs at the University of Illinois' Spurlock Museum. She added freelance storytelling about ten years later and has performed folktales and one-woman shows at storytelling festivals, school assemblies, city-wide celebrations, personal parties, and gatherings of all kinds ever since. Her enthusiasm is both unmistakable and contagious. Let her share the joy and power of the tale with you at your next special event.

Upcoming Dates

Storytelling Live

Since April 3, 2020, I have worked to keep the Spurlock Museum's storytelling programs going by offering live concerts on the Museum's Facebook page ( The current schedule is Wednesday afternoons from 1:15-1:45 PM CST. This schedule will be a little irregular during holidays, but you can get the exact dates in the page's Events section. Also, in the videos section of the Facebook page are recordings of all the concerts.

Champaign-Urbana Folk and Roots Festival

October 23 • Free

I'm excited to be sharing the stage again with some great storytellers at the 2021 Folk and Roots Festival. We will be telling in the Urbana Free Library (210 W Green St. Urbana IL), and here's the schedule:

12:00 - 12:30 Kath Brinkman

12:30 - 1:00 Kim Sheahan Sanford

1:00 - 1:30 Linda Dust

1:30 - 2:30 Dan Keding


Just a Few Fond Memories

Young Authors Conference 2017

It is such an honor when I am asked to tell at the Illinois Young Authors Conference in Bloomington. I have told there multiple years now and am always thrilled when I am asked to return. I love meeting the student authors and the adult authors and parents who inspired them. My favorite part is hearing the titles some of the kids give their stories. One of my favorites is "Sensei Potato!"

Honoring Civil War Nurses at "The Taste of C-U"

This picture is from the debut of my first performance as a fictional historical character. As Abigail Westinghouse, I talked about my experiences as a Civil War nurse and related the exploits of Mary Ann "Mother" Bickerdyke, a true-life Civil War nurse from Galesburg, Illinois. Though I thought I was going to pass out performing in the summer heat in my petticoats and crinoline, I had a wonderful time and hope to put together more performances like these for the future.

Quest for Freedom: 1850s/1950s

I was so pleased to share the stage with Camille Born for the program Quest for Freedom: 1850's/1950s. Camille started with A Rocking Chair and a Trunk, a story that chronicles the experiences of a family whose house served as a station on the Underground Railroad. I finished the concert premiering my newest historical program A Place to Live. In the program I portray civil rights activist Anne Braden, who, with her husband Carl, purchased a house in a white Louisville, Kentucky neighborhood for an African-American family in 1954. Their story is so important, and I was thrilled to be able to bring it to a new audience.

My First Northlands Storytelling Conference

The Northlands Storytelling Network counts some of the country's most beloved and influential storytellers among its members. I have been chosen to tell at its spring conference a few times now and had the privilege to serve on its board, but my first telling in front of these wonderful listeners was truly unforgettable. I told one of my favorite stories, "The Tiger's Whisker." Thank you to everyone for their kind words of support afterward. Special thanks to Karen Wollscheid, the former Northlands executive director, for allowing me to share her review:

"Your wonderful voice and delivery style lets the story be the star, not the person telling it. In my opinion that makes the best kind of storyteller. I hope to hear your stories again very soon!"

Selected Public Performances

  • Northlands Storytelling Conference
  • National Storytelling Conference
  • Illinois Young Authors Conference*
  • Illinois State Fair Kid's Korner*
  • Taste of Champaign-Urbana*
  • Big Grove Storytelling Festival*
  • Bluestem Storytelling Festival
  • Chinquapin Folk Music & Storytelling Festival
  • New Salem Storytelling Festival
  • Verde Gallery Spoken Word Series*
  • The Teller's Art Series*
  • Allerton Park Ghost Story Concerts*
  • University of Illinois Chatauqua
  • Parkland College Staerkel Planetarium*

*designates multi-year appearances

What People Say About Kim's Performances

"Again, you blew me away. Your wonderful voice and delivery style lets the story be the star, not the person telling it. In my opinion that makes the best kind of storyteller. I hope to hear your stories again very soon!" Karen Wollscheid • Northlands Storytelling Network

"I thought your story and delivery were compelling. What a powerful story."

Reaction to A Place to Live • Kath Brinkmann

“Kim is a terrific storyteller, and she held the audience captive for the entire presentation.” Ava Wolf • Scout leader

“The stories were great! Our students and families loved them!”

Carol Jones • Marquette Early Childhood School

“Excellent! Wouldn’t change anything!”

Nick Dalrymple • Unity East Elementary School

“Kim was very enthusiastic and vivacious!”

Ray Arseneau • Mahomet-Seymour Jr. High School

Photo credits for this site:

Randy Sanford, Paul Idleman, Camille Born, Marissa Garza, and JUPITER IMAGES.