Cathy Nelson


Cathy Nelson is retired from Columbus City Schools with over 36 years of service.  She is founder and president emeritus of the Friends of Freedom Society, a nineteenth century historical research organization whose main focus is the underground railroad  Ms. Nelson has testified in Congress on behalf of the Underground Railroad Network to Freedom Act of 1997 and she and her extensive research have won numerous awards and widespread recognition. Participating in the Ohio Humanities Council Speakers Bureau for nearly two decades, she has consistently been one of its most popular presenters.

“Remember the Ladies:” The 1850 Women’s Rights Convention in Salem, OH

The fight for women’s equality began over two centuries ago. Learn about their pervasive struggle through letters and speeches from the fearless and tireless women who fought for their rights beginning with Abigail Adams to Sojourner Truth and others at the 1850 Women’s Rights Convention in Salem, Ohio.

Seeking Freedom: Ohio and the Underground Railroad

During the nineteenth century, white abolitionists and slave and free blacks cooperated to help hide and transport runaway slaves on their dangerous journey to freedom. Ohio played a prominent role in this movement, and this slide-illustrated presentation describes a history of the Underground Railroad and particular stations throughout Ohio.


Cathy Nelson
(614) 270-2691 or (614) 868-1246

The Speakers Bureau is now closed and is not currently accepting applications. Please check back in September when more bookings will be available.

Speaker Applications

If your organization would like to book a speaker, first contact the speaker to confirm program dates, times, and whether or not the program will be offered virtually. After you have confirmed scheduling details, submit a speaker request form to Ohio Humanities at least six weeks before the presentation takes place. Upon approval, we’ll send you a program agreement packet and ask you to pay the appropriate application fee to Ohio Humanities. Groups are limited to three Speakers Bureau programs per year.

Speaker Fee Structure

Non-profit organizations with an annual budget under $150,000 pay a fee of $50.00.

Non-profit organizations with an annual budget over $150,000 pay a fee of $250.00.

Schools (including colleges or universities) and corporate or private entities pay a fee of $400.00.

For any questions, please contact Program Officer Melvin Barnes at