Best kept secret in San Diego

For the past year, I have had the privilege of being a board member of the Women’s Museum of California. When I first joined the board, I learned that we were one of only five women ‘s museums in the country. Can you imagine only five? Sadly, the Texas women’s museum has had to close its doors. Fortunately, our small but vibrant museum in San Diego is growing. We are now entering our 30th year, and in August, we are moving to a larger and lovely new location in an expanding cultural arts venue at NCT at Liberty Station in Point Loma.

The museum was founded by Mary B. Maschal and other women who realized that women were not included in the mainstream version of history. Maschal was passionate about the endeavor and devoted many years of her life collecting and preserving numerous historic artifacts that exemplify and document the life histories and achievements of many women, in both the United States and abroad. In 1983 she applied for non-profit status and named her body of work The Women’s History Reclamation Project (WHRP).

For the next fourteen years, Maschel created a living museum of women’s history in her own home, filling virtually every room with historic documents, banners, posters, and books. She and others also shared this archival collection through lectures on women’s history to school children, professional and social organizations, and community groups. After much prodding , Maschel permitted her home to function as the WHRP headquarters and invited the public to view exhibitions of her vast collection. So much excitement was generated by the archival holdings, that it became obvious that San Diego needed a museum dedicated solely to women and their stories.

In 1997, the WHRP moved into the second phase of its embryonic existence and relocated to the ART UNION Building in Golden Hill neighborhood of San Diego; in December of 2003, the WHRP changed its name to the Women’s History Museum and Educational Center or WHM.

During the ensuing years, the WHM has blossomed into a full-fledged women’s history museum and valuable community educational resource. The energy within the walls of the small storefront is palpable; the exhibits inspiring, the historic clothing collection fascinating, the workshops and lectures great, and the staff and many volunteers who manage all these things are amazingly dedicated to its success. In addition, the staff develops and implements educational events including art shows, stages performance presentations, maintains a library and research archive, and provides speakers for the community through its Speaker’s Bureau.

In 2011 the name of the organization was changed to the Women’s Museum of California with the tag line “preserving the past…inspiring the future”. Now the museum is moving into its third phase. It has outgrown its small facility and is thrilled to be on the move to Liberty Station.

Learn more about the Women’s Museum of California click here.

Sally Ride, first American woman astronaut

Sally Ride, the first American woman to trailblaze her way into space, died of pancreatic cancer at the age of 61. She was a brilliant physicist who became a role model for young women who until then only dreamed of a career in space exploration. She truly broke the space ceiling. Ride flew on the shuttle Challenger on June 18, 1983 and on a second mission in 1984. To read more about her life and accomplishments, click here.

Trailblazing Women: Inaugural blog

Welcome to the world of amazing women, the pioneers who dared to take risks and who made it possible for our mothers, sisters and daughters to follow their dreams. With the inauguration of this blog, I invite you to write along with me and to celebrate the contributions of these fascinating women whose courage and tenacity were catalysts for change and who made our paths through life’s journey so much easier. Together we will meet and learn about these trailblazers, some whose names will be instantly recognizable to you and others who have been long forgotten or overlooked. The time has come to commemorate these special women through words and images and to honor our sisters of history who bravely paved the way so we could accomplish what was once beyond the realm of reality.

I co-authored a book that will be available through The History Press in August. It is titled Women Trailblazers of California: Pioneers to the Present, a chronicle of the triumphs and disappointments of forty diverse women who dared to take risks and break down barriers. For more information about the book, click here. I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it.

Hannah Cohen

To purchase the book, click here.