The Nebraska City Rotary Club got a preview of Chatauqua events Wednesday afternoon as the five professors who delivered the evening performances visited the club.
The quintet of scholars led adult workshops that began Wednesday afternoon and ran through Saturday, as well as being the featured artists in evening performances at Nebraska City High School.
During the evening performances, the scholars gave in-character presentations, then took audience questions as their historical character. That dialogue was followed by the scholar stepping out of character to add additional information their character might not have known.
Moderating the evening events was Paul Vickery, who portrayed President Woodrow Wilson. Vickery is a professor of history at Oral Roberts University.
He told the Rotary audience that Wilson was an idealist who got the United States involved in World War I so he could be involved in the peace process.
In the end, Vickery said the United States never signed the Treaty of Versailles nor did it join the League of Nations, which Wilson helped create.
Thursday’s evening performance featured A. Theodore Kachel as orator William Jennings Bryan.
Kachel is the retired head of the theater department at Tulsa Community College who now tours the country in one-man shows. He has performed as Bryan since 2008.
In addition to being an orator, Kachel said Bryan served as Woodrow Wilson’s Secretary of State for two years and is the only Secretary of State to have resigned over a matter of principle.
Thursday’s evening performance featured Helen Lewis as social activist Jane Addams. Lewis teaches English and humanities at Western Iowa Tech Community College in Sioux City.
Lewis said Addams was consumed by her Hull House project in Chicago to serve immigrant families and her work with the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom.
Once the United States entered the First World War, Lewis said Addams received hate mail and phone calls, as well as having Hull House pelted by rotting vegetables.
“She was concerned for the children” who were affected by the war, said Lewis.
Friday’s evening performance featured Charles Everett Pace as sociologist and civil rights activist W.E.B. DuBois.
Pace, who is a full-time Chautauqua scholar, once taught at the University of Nebraska, Lincoln.
He said he came back to the state in part “because I need my Nebraska fix.”
Pace said DuBois, who was the first black man to receive a PhD from Harvard University, was  trained as a sociologist and that he studied interracial contact.
DuBois had opportunities to study interracial contact in “living laboratories for interracial contact” he found in the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People and the United States Army, said Pace.
The Chatauqua evening performances concluded Saturday night with Karen Vuranch portraying author Edith Wharton.
Vuranch is a professor of theater, speech and Appalachian studies at Concord University.
Vuranch said Wharton created aid agencies in Europe during World War I that served 250,000 hot meals, built eight hospitals and assisted more than 9,000 refugees.
Wharton was able to visit the front lines, said Vuranch, and her writings on the war were one of the most important reasons for the United States becoming involved in the conflict.
The Nebraska City Rotary Club speaker for the Wednesday, June 28, meeting will be Nebraska State Senator Robert Clements.
The meeting will begin at noon at the Eagles Club, 600 1st Corso.