Monday, October 18, (8-9 pm ET) - Kim Heikkila
History, My Mother, and Me
Kim Heikkila was 26 years old when she learned she had an older sister. Kim’s mother had delivered her first daughter at the Salvation Army Booth Memorial Hospital in St. Paul, Minnesota in 1961. She relinquished the baby for adoption, got married a few years later, had two more children, and enjoyed a long career in marketing…all the while keeping the story of her first pregnancy a secret. Then, in 1994, her eldest daughter found her. For the next 15 years, Kim’s mother had all three of her children in her life, and in 2006, became a loving grandmother to Kim’s adopted son. When she died in 2009, Kim realized that she had missed the opportunity to talk to her mother in detail about her experiences as a “Booth girl.” So she set out to learn more about her mother by drawing on her skills as a historian. The result is Booth Girls: Pregnancy, Adoption, and the Secrets We Kept (Minnesota Historical Society Press), a multigenerational story of contested motherhood, equal parts biography, oral history, history, and memoir.
In this talk, Kim will be joined by her sister (also named Kim) as she shares her research into the history of Booth St. Paul and contemplates the complicated legacy of adoption on her family story.
About Dr. Heikkila
Dr. Kim Heikkila is an independent scholar, oral historian, author, and educator. Her article about “Booth girls” won the Solon J. Buck Award for best article of 2017 for Minnesota History magazine. Her award-winning personal essays about infertility, grief, and adoption have been published in Broad!, The Grief Diaries, Under the Gum Tree, and elsewhere. Her first book, Sisterhood of War: Minnesota Women in Vietnam (Minnesota Historical Society Press, 2011), was a finalist for a 2012 Minnesota Book Award. She has a Ph.D. in American Studies from the University of Minnesota and taught U.S. history and women’s history courses for more than ten years at St. Catherine University. Kim owns and operates Spotlight Oral History.