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Kentucky Life looks at Julia Chinn, Barbara Kingsolver’s Kentucky childhood, Louisville sculptor Enid Yandell, and Mary Todd Lincoln


Kentucky Life looks at Julia Chinn, Barbara Kingsolver’s Kentucky childhood, Louisville sculptor Enid Yandell, and Mary Todd Lincoln

For Release: 02/10/20 9:10 AM

The next episode of KET’s Kentucky Life tells the stories of women trailblazers, including Julia Chinn, a former slave and common law wife of a U.S. vice president; author Barbara Kingsolver’s childhood in Kentucky;  Louisville sculptor Enid Yandell; and presidential widow Mary Todd Lincoln. The episode airs Saturday, Feb. 15, at 8/7 pm and Sunday, Feb. 16, at 4/3 pm on KET, and Monday, Feb. 17, at 7/6 pm on KET2. 

First, Kentucky Life looks at the life of Julia Chinn, the common law wife of U.S. vice president Richard Mentor Johnson. Chinn, who was of mixed-race, was born a slave in Scott County. Raised and educated in the Johnson household, she became Johnson’s close companion and ultimately the mother of his two daughters—a relationship that he openly acknowledged, and one used by his rivals at times to stall his political career.

Then, Kentucky Life reaches into its archives for this 2005 Memory segment for a visit with best-selling author Barbara Kingsolver, who revealed how her Kentucky roots shaped her writing career.

Next, Kentucky Life looks at the life of Louisville sculptor Enid Yandell, who in the late 1800’s, when women were expected to spend their days at home, defied convention and crafted a career for herself working in clay. Yandell, who sculpted the statue of Daniel Boone that welcomes visitors to Louisville’s Cherokee Park, would go on to become the first woman selected for membership in the National Sculpture Society.

Lastly, Kentucky Life looks back at the life of Mary Todd Lincoln, who after the assassination of her husband, was characterized as being mentally unstable—a perception that lasted more than a century. But was her reputation deserved or did it stem more so from her refusal to conform to the gender expectations of her time?

Kentucky Life is a KET production, produced by Chelsea Gorham. Segment producers for this episode are Jayne McClew, Chelsea Gorham, and Frank Simkonis.

This year is Kentucky Life’s25th anniversary, and to mark the occasion, the program will include special Memory segments, in which each of Kentucky Life’shosts—Byron Crawford, Dave Shuffett and Doug Flynn—will revisit some of their favorite stories over the years. 

KET is Kentucky’s largest classroom, where learning comes to life for more than one million people each week via television, online and mobile. Learn more about Kentucky’s preeminent public media organization at, on Twitter @KET and at


Todd Piccirilli
Senior Director, Marketing and Communications