Kim Sheahan



Kim Sheahan 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 the 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.

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. My favorite this year was "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.

After a concert for the Tuscola Boy Scouts:

Word is spreading about how much I love to tell at Boy Scout summer camps, and this year I got to tell stories for the Tuscola camp. The theme was "Knights in Shining Armor," so I told a knight and dragon story, a haunted castle story, and a story about a duck who becomes king. The boys were terrific! It's always great to hear an audience yell, "Tell another one!"

The Transforming Arts of Papua New Guinea

In the fall, 2009, the Spurlock Museum (where I am Assistant Director of Education), displayed a wonderful temporary exhibit entitled "The Transforming Arts of Papua New Guinea." The exhibit was a discussion of how contemporary artists are using traditional objects and motifs to discuss modern issues of unity and tolerance. I was very happy to have included in the exhibit a computer kiosk where visitors could learn more about PNG and the artists highlighted. Also on the kiosk were my performances of three traditional folktales. The Museum hosts a variety of special events each year, and storytelling is often involved. You can find out about upcoming events at the Museum's website,

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.

This program is appropriate for audiences high school and older.

To read more about Anne, visit

Reaction to A Place to Live:

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

Kath Brinkmann • Storyteller

My First Northlands Storytelling Conference

It was amazing to share the stage with some wonderful tellers and to perform The Tiger's Whisker, one of my favorite stories. Thank you to everyone for their kind words of support afterward. Special thanks to Karen Wollscheid, the 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!"

A Place to Live

I was asked to perform my one-woman concert on Anne Braden to the members of the American Association of University Women. What a great audience! Here is one of the wonderful comments I received...

"We were delighted with your performance at our Wine, Women and Song fundraiser on Saturday. I've heard many compliments from the folks who attended, and they appreciated the way you brought this serious subject to life. It gave an emotional impact to something we understand intellectually but haven't experienced personally ourselves. I will certainly recommend you as a program presenter to other groups."

Phyllis Cline, AAUW

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.