Gladys Coggswell “The Story Women”


Gladys Coggswell, Gladys Coggswell, M.Ed. "The Story Woman" is an award winning full time professional storyteller whose own story of a miraculous transition from victim to victorious has inspired millions of listeners from various cultures and age groups.

She is described in the National Storytelling Festival's promotional literature (2003) as "A storyteller, workshop leader, professional development specialist, recording artist and author whose stories and songs are spiced with warmth, wisdom and wit." Her dynamic performances have brought audiences to laughter and/or tears as well as to their feet. She is one of the nation's leading experts in the area of the application of storytelling as an inner healing and violence/substance prevention strategy.

A typical performance by Gladys Coggswell might include songs and stories of her own creation, from various cultures and of the elders she has interviewed throughout the United States. She reveals that her great grandmother disciplined her with stories. "Whenever I did something "sinful " like rolling my eyes or lying, my great grandmother had a story about an animal or person who had behaved in the same obnoxious manner. Of course they always came to a bad end. I didn't want to come to a bad end, so I tried to behave.

I have to admit however, that there were times when I wondered why my great grandmother couldn't just be quiet and beat me. Today, I am grateful that she chose storytelling as a disciplinary tool.

As a media favorite, she has appeared on radio and television and in hundreds of newspaper articles. She has been the subject of several PBS specials and was interviewed on CSPAN for her portrayal of Harriet Robinson

Scott, wife of Dred Scott - the first person of African descent whose suit for his freedom went to the supreme court and whose case was the subject of the Lincoln - Douglass debates. Coggswell's biography is included in several books including "Storytellers" by Corky Miller and Mary Ellen Snodgrass and "Show Me Missouri Women" by Mary K. Dains. She is a former radio show host "Storytime" , has recorded four storytelling audio tapes which are also now available on CDs and is the author of "Why There Are No Dragons" - a color and keep storybook for children.

Coggswell has held the official title of Missouri's Master Folk Artist in the area of storytelling (1990, 1991, 1993, 1998, 2002 and 2003) through the MTAAP program and as such has mentored several apprentices. Additional awards include a life membership award from NABS National Association of Black Storytellers (1998), Outstanding Professor (1997, 1998) from UMSL, Missouri Historical Society Research Grant (the Brownlee Fund- 1999), Oral Histories Project Grants (2000-2003), an achievement award for outstanding work in the area of storytelling from the Missouri State House of Representatives (2003) and numerous others. She has been a featured storyteller at many major storytelling and folk festivals in various states and was an educational and research delegate in China in 1997 where she told (through an interpreter) and learned (from chinese elder storytellers) stories. You can listen to a song and/or stories by visiting this storyteller's web site at


  • By Word of Mouth Storytelling Guild - Founder & Exec. Director
  • Midwest Inspirational Story Tellers - Founder
  • National Inspirational Storytelling Institute - Founder & E.D.
  • National Association of Black Storytellers - Life Member
  • National Storytelling Network
  • Missouri Folklore Society - First African American President (1999)
  • The Chicago Association of Black Storytellers
  • Ase: The Chicago Association of Black Storytellers

Gladys Coggswell, M.Ed.
P.O. Box 56 Frankford, MO 63441
Fax 573/784-2364

Your Favorite Storytellers Foundation, 7115 W. North Ave.. PMB #257, Oak Park, IL 60302
Home  |  Men of Storytelling | Women of Storytelling | About Us |