Exhibit Celebrating Washington’s Women Trailblazers Opens in Olympia

‘Ahead of the Curve’ Coincides With Women’s Suffrage Centennial


By Rachel Friederich, ICSEW Communications Chair

OLYMPIA–A new exhibit commemorating trailblazing women in Washington state history is now open in the Secretary of State’s Office.

Legacy Washington, an educational program and division of the office of the Secretary of State spearheaded the exhibit to coincide with the 100th anniversary of the women’s suffrage movement.

The exhibit, Ahead of the Curve, is filled with photos and stories of women who made significant contributions to Washington state’s history. Among the women featured include:

  • Fawn Sharp As president of the Quinault Indian Nation, Sharp’s drive to unite tribes on fighting climate change started close to her ancestral land. She has seen the Quinaults’ beloved blueback salmon runs dwindle year after year, and witnessed the loss of glaciers in the Olympic Mountains. In 2018, Sharp hit the road in an R.V. hoping to rally the state’s tribes to vote, particularly for a carbon-tax initiative.
  • Elsie Parrish, a Wenatchee chambermaid, fought to get paid what she was owed in Washington, which was the fourth state in the U.S. with a minimum wage. Her landmark lawsuit went all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court, whose 1937 decision cleared a legal path for New Deal policies such as Social Security and a federal minumum wage. All because Parrish, a 37-year-old grandmother, had the gumption to stand up for working women.
  • Former Gov. Chris Gregoire, the state’s first woman deputy attorney general. Washington state not only led the way on “comparable worth” — the concept that different jobs of similar value should have similar pay — it invented the term. Some 50 years after Elsie Parrish’s victory in court, Washington was the laboratory for a novel pay-equity argument that led to raises for thousands of women state workers. Playing a pivotal role that would propel her political career was Chris Gregoire, the state’s first woman deputy attorney general.

From the Secretary of State’s website:

“We mark this milestone by highlighting the numerous ways Washington has been Ahead of the Curve since it first granted women the right to vote in 1883. In 1910 our state became the fifth to include women’s suffrage in its constitution — a decade ahead of the nation. And Washington women keep blazing trails in fields from science to bridge building. Legacy Washington highlights the pioneering spirit of some larger-than-life women and little-known stories with big impacts on Washington, the nation, and beyond.”

You can visit Legacy Washington exhibits inside the Secretary of State’s office at the Washington State Capitol. Legacy Washington has also compiled accompanying information online:

View story and photo gallery online: https://www.sos.wa.gov/legacy/ahead-of-the-curve/

View a video about the exhibit on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=28&v=5bTkPdSYc6w