Current Exhibit: Her Story

Tacoma's Women of Destiny

WHEN: Free Exhibit Opening Reception: Thursday, March 7, 2019, 5 to 7 pm

WHERE: Tacoma Historical Society Museum, 919 Pacific Avenue in the historic Provident Building

DURATION: The exhibit will be on display through September 7, 2019.  Museum hours are 11 am to 4 pm, Wednesday through Saturday, or by appointment. Admission is free and donations are welcomed.

CURATOR: Deb Freedman

DESIGNER: Chris Fiala Erlich


Tacoma Historical Society is getting a new name. On March 7 the organization will become the Tacoma Her Story Society. The name change is in conjunction with a new museum exhibit, "Her Story: Tacoma’s Women of Destiny," recognizing the upcoming centennial of the passage of the Nineteenth Amendment. The exhibit highlights over seventy-five women whose historic roles have been overlooked, or who are now making and writing history. Located at the Society’s museum at 919 Pacific Avenue, the exhibit (and the name) will continue through September 7, 2019.

"One of the biggest surprises," said exhibit curator Deb Freedman, "was realizing the tremendous records set by Tacoma women in the field of sports. I knew Tacoma was home to some nationally known suffrage leaders in the early 1900s, and I expected to chronicle some of the many 'firsts' who broke gender barriers. But I was amazed to learn that the first female ever pictured on a Wheaties cereal box was Stadium grad Gretchen Kunigk Fraser. Not only did she win a gold and a silver medal in 1948, she was the first American skier (man or woman) ever to win an Olympic gold medal in the alpine combined event. And Kaye Hall was the first woman to swim the 100-yard backstroke in under one minute. She accomplished that feat when she was just a teenager at Wilson High School."

The exhibit has been developed with the support of a wide variety of community members and women’s groups, including the University of Puget Sound Women’s League and Collins Library, the Job Carr Cabin Museum, WILLO, and the Shanaman Sports Museum.

In conjunction with the opening of new exhibit, Tacoma Historical Society Press will launch a new book. Leading Ladies: Twenty-One of Tacoma’s Women of Destiny, is the fourth in the Society’s popular "Twenty-One Tales" series of local history curriculum supplements. Written by Deb Freedman and Michael Ann Konek, the 48-page title presents much-needed biographical information in an engaging story format. The project’s goal is to provide accessible local history curriculum material for teachers and students by highlighting twenty-one women who reflect a balance of diversity in time period, field of work, and ethnicity. As with earlier titles, over 1500 copies will be distributed free of charge to local elementary schools.

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