From Southcoast Today: New project to highlight impact of Women of Greater New Bedford

“NEW BEDFORD — A newly-formed alliance of organizations and individuals has come together to explore the impact of women from Greater New Bedford on its history.

The Women of Greater New Bedford project will tell the stories of commitment, determination and sacrifice of women from diverse cultural and ethnic backgrounds. Organizers envision creating a walking trail, a website, an online application and school curriculum by fall 2018.

“Women’s contributions have often been heard as whispers in history,” Christina Bascom, the project’s designer, said in a news release. “On Nantucket much of Centre Street became known as Petticoat Row because so many of the shops were run by women in the 19th century.

“My fascination with this story sparked an intense search for parallel sisterhood in New Bedford. What unfolded are remarkable stories of women from many different backgrounds who significantly influenced the path of history while also creating support networks through women’s organizations. Many of these organizations still exist today.”

Ann O’Leary, Emily Bourne Fellow at the New Bedford Whaling Museum, will conduct the research for the project, supported by graduate students from the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth.

A website currently under construction will house these stories of educators and philanthropists, abolitionists and crusaders for social justice, investors and confectioners, and more.

To identify inspirational women, organizers are asking the public to suggest names for consideration by May 1, 2017 to O’Leary at A brief biography and summary of accomplishments along with dates of birth and death will assist the committee in their selection of women to reflect the diversity of time and place.

In the summer of 2018, a walking trail through New Bedford will guide participants from landmark to landmark that will highlight 12 of the most compelling stories of brave and determined women. the release said. Trail guide maps will be available at local museums and the National Park Visitors Center. An online application for use with smart phones is also being developed to guide visitors on the trail walk. The Women of Greater New Bedford committee also plans to create a companion curriculum to support women’s studies in local junior and senior high schools, the release said.

The Women of Greater New Bedford Project committee members are Christina Bascom, Project Designer, Sarah Rose, New Bedford Whaling Museum, Project Organizer; Valerie Bassett, Women’s Fund; Sarah Herman, Our Sisters’ School; Lee Blake, New Bedford Historical Society; Mary Jean Blasdale, Historian; Kate Corkum, Rotch-Jones-Duff House and Garden Museum; Jan DaSilva, National Park Service; Kate Fentress; Gail Fortes, YWCA Southeastern Massachusetts; Meghan Kish, National Park Service; Ivy McMahon; Ann O’Leary, Emily Bourne Fellow, New Bedford Whaling Museum; Denise Porche, Island Foundation; Susan Rothschild, the Association for the Relief of Aged Women; Mary Smoyer, Boston Women’s Heritage Trail; Kim Wilson, University of Massachusetts Dartmouth Labor Education Center; Sara Winnick, Our Sisters’ School”

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