Storyteller and Butler adjunct instructor Sally Perkins will share tales of the short, notorious career of Indiana bank robber John Dillinger at 8 p.m. Friday, Jan. 25, in the Eugene and Marilyn Glick Indiana History Center.

Tickets are $10 in advance or $15 at the door. Order tickets online at or (317) 232-1882. 

Dillinger grabbed national attention in 1933 and 1934 by robbing two dozen banks, escaping jail twice, and narrowly evading arrest as police chased him through four states. The FBI finally ended his spree in a fatal shootout in Chicago.

Perkins, who teaches public speaking and rhetoric in the College of Communication, considers Dillinger an audacious trickster, able to outwit law enforcement time and again.

“My fascination is with his short career,” she said. “He was only robbing banks for 14 months, but he rose to fame so quickly.”

In June 2012, the Indiana Historical Society and Storytelling Arts of Indiana commissioned Perkins to create the Dillinger story for their jointly produced series Sharing Hoosier History Through Stories. Although she spent several months at the Indiana State Library studying primary materials about his life, Perkins said her task “is not to give a history lecture, but to present an interesting, fun tale.”

Perkins was a full-time faculty member in public speaking at California State University before coming to Indianapolis a decade ago. She began telling stories as a volunteer at Riley Hospital for Children. In 2009, she was awarded the Frank Basile Emerging Stories Fellowship through Storytelling Arts of Indiana, and in 2011, she was chosen to create and tell a story of the historic Central Avenue Methodist Church, now home to Indiana Landmarks.

She said storytelling has reshaped how she teaches.

“I now emphasize the value of storytelling in public speaking, and talk about what makes an effective story,” she said. “And what better way is there to engage people than storytelling?”

Associate Professor of Marketing Dan McQuiston said Perkins has been “a big hit” in his “Professional Selling” classes, coaching students in the techniques of “storyselling.”

Storyselling integrates storytelling into sales presentations.

“It’s long been known that the best salespeople are the best storytellers, able to communicate with a story how other customers have been able to use their product or service to meet the customers’ stated needs,” McQuiston said. “I want the students to be able to learn how to put together a good story that will help to get their point across, no matter what their chosen field of endeavor.”

Media contact: Mary Ellen Stephenson
(317) 940-6944