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

Agents of Change: Washington State History Museum Celebrates Jewish Women

The year 2020 marks the centennial of women’s suffrage in America. Several organizations have holding celebratory and historical events as the anniversary draws near. The Washington State History Museum has a new exhibit celebrating Jewish women who have influenced Washington state’s history and culture. It opens April 28, 2019.

black and white photo of two women
Image from Washington State Jewish Historical Society digital archives

Agents of Change: 20 Remarkable Jewish Women of Washington State opens April 28 at Washington State History Museum

Tacoma, WA – What do Carrie Brownstein, Nancy Pearl, and Marcie Sillman have in common? They are all from Washington. They’re all in the public eye – Brownstein co-created both the Washington-based band Sleater-Kinney and the sketch comedy television show Portlandia. Librarian Nancy Pearl is a best-selling author (the Book Lust series, George & Lizzy, and others), literary critic and the former Executive Director of the Washington Center for the Book at Seattle Public Library. Marcie Sillman is a broadcast journalist and NPR radio show host working with Seattle’s KUOW. One more thing they have in common is their inclusion in Agents of Change: 20 Remarkable Jewish Women of Washington State, an exhibition opening on April 28 at the Washington State History Museum in Tacoma. The exhibition is on view through June 2, 2019.

Featuring women who have made their mark in a wide array of fields including arts, activism, athletics, education, business, diplomacy, law, politics, religion, and philanthropy, Agents of Change shows the breadth and depth of the contributions Jewish women are making every day in our state and our world.

The Washington State Jewish Historical Society (WSJHS) developed this landmark exhibition in honor of the society’s 50th anniversary in 2018. They also developed award-winning supporting media for their digital museum, including videos and a podcast series.

“2018 was the Year of the Woman,” said WSJHS Executive Director Lisa Kranseler, “and as we were debating possible subjects for our 50th anniversary exhibit, it became obvious that this was the perfect choice. From our mothers and grandmothers to our teachers and community leaders, we have all been powerfully influenced by strong women who have guided and changed our lives. This exhibit is a way to honor all those women by focusing on twenty exceptional representatives from our state.”

Opening Day: Visitors can learn about the inspiration behind Agents of Change in the gallery at 1:45 on April 28 at the Washington State History Museum. Hear from Washington State Historical Society (WSHS) Director Jennifer Kilmer and WSJHS Director Lisa Kranseler, as well as special guests. WSHS and WSHJS members are invited to mingle on the museum’s mezzanine for an opening-day reception from 1:30-3:00.

“We are honored to feature Agents of Change at the Washington State History Museum. It is a terrific example of our mission in action – that is, partnering with our communities to explore how history connects us all,” said WSHS Director Jennifer Kilmer. “These leaders have made significant contributions in Washington and beyond. We’re proud to tell their stories. We’re excited to kick-off the upcoming 100th anniversary of women’s suffrage in our nation with this celebration of Jewish women making history in Washington.”

More information at WashingtonHistory.org/events.

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Washington State Historical Society partners with our communities to explore how history connects us all. The Society’s most visible activity, the Washington State History Museum (WSHM) is located in Tacoma’s downtown core along Pacific Avenue among a thriving cultural scene. The museum features interactive permanent exhibitions about Washington’s past in the Great Hall, unique rotating exhibitions highlighting the Society’s collections, and dynamic feature exhibitions.

Address: 1911 Pacific Avenue, Tacoma, WA 98402
Hours: 10:00AM–5:00PM Tuesday through Sunday. Third Thursday of each month, 10:00AM–8:00PM.
Admission: Free for members; Adults $14; seniors (age 65+), students (age 6-17) and military (with ID) $11; free for children 5 and under; family rate $40 (up to two adults and four children under age 18). Patrons with a Washington Quest card and licensed Washington Foster Parents can attend for $1 per person or $2 per family.

Washington State Jewish Historical Society is dedicated to discovering, preserving, and disseminating the history of the Jews of Washington state and promotes interest in and knowledge of the life, history, and culture of the Jewish people and communities through publications, exhibits, displays, speakers, tours, and performance. For more information, please visit www.wsjhs.org.