Born to Lead: A Puppet Play

Dublin Core


Born to Lead: A Puppet Play


The mid-twentieth century witnessed the novel idea of enacting the legend of Frances Willard with puppets. “Puppetry has become so universally popular the last few years that puppet theater groups are available in nearly all cities,” remarked playwright Helen Elliott. Elliott suggested that those seeking to direct Born to Lead could “acquire a working knowledge of the subject through reference works in any book or magazine library.” She included a list of books, periodicals, and booklets containing instructions for amateurs seeking to make puppets and put on shows. To create “costumes of the period,” readers were directed to Genevieve Foster’s illustrations in Pioneer Girl: The Early Life of Frances Willard (1939) by Clara Ingram Judson.

Elliott intended the play for child audiences “of a wide age-range.” She was confident that “the play will hold the children’s interest” and “they will absorb every word.” While Elliott noted that the dialogue was “modernized slightly for the modern child,” the Willard puppet speaks directly to the audience “to make the listener feel he is a part of the story and action.” The performance practices of nineteenth-century orators and dramatic readers thus remained a key element of twentieth-century children’s theater.


Helen S. Elliott


Helen S. Elliott, Born to Lead: A Puppet Play, The Childhood of Frances E. Willard (Evanston, Illinois: The Signal Press, n.d., ca. 1950).


The Signal Press


ca. 1950




Helen S. Elliott, Born to Lead: A Puppet Play, The Signal Press, ca. 1950

Cite As

Helen S. Elliott, “Born to Lead: A Puppet Play,” Performing Temperance, accessed June 19, 2024,