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Lighting the Way Tour group outside in 2018

New Bedford Whaling Museum

About the Lighting the Way Project

Launched in 2018, the New Bedford Whaling Museum project Lighting the Way: Historic Women of SouthCoast explores the historical impact of women from the region. As educators and philanthropists, abolitionists and crusaders for social justice, investors and confectioners, sister sailors and millworkers, women from diverse cultural and ethnic backgrounds have shaped their SouthCoast Massachusetts communities, the nation, and the world. Lighting the Way is unearthing remarkable stories of women’s callings that required grit, tenacity, and enduring commitment to their families, careers and communities.

Lighting the Way is amplifying history by revealing these previously untold stories of vision, determination, and perseverance through profiles on the Lighting the Way website; resources and programs for educators and school groups; walking tours, forums, and other activities; and a self-guided tour. Lighting the Way provides thought-provoking programs that enhance our understanding of history, encourage civic engagement and voter participation, and enrich the cultural life of the SouthCoast.

At the core of Lighting the Way are the profiles of historic women posted on this website. These profiles are researched and written by members of the community who are committed to documenting their stories. Many of the profiles of women of color on the site were made possible due to New Bedford Historical Society’s unearthing and preserving the legacies of people of color in the region.

Lighting the Way Committee & Staff

Paulina Arruda – New Bedford Whaling Museum, Trustee; WJFD, Co-Owner
Chrissie Bascom – New Bedford Whaling Museum, Trustee; project founder
Lee Blake – New Bedford Historical Society, President
Penny Cole – New Bedford Whaling Museum, Volunteer
Jan da Silva – New Bedford Whaling National Historical Park, Cultural Resources Specialist
Priscilla Ditchfield – Community Foundation of Southeastern Mass, Trustee
Ivy MacMahon – Volunteer Researcher
Ann O’Leary – Emily Bourne Research Fellow*; Bishop Stang High School, Librarian
Jessica Ross – Education Consultant
Mary Howland Smoyer – Boston Women’s Heritage Trail
Bernadette Souza – New Bedford Whaling Museum, Trustee; Youth Opportunities Unlimited, Executive Director

 New Bedford Whaling Museum Staff:
Cathy Saunders – Project Coordinator –

*The Emily Bourne Research Fellowship is named for Emily Howland Bourne. Her gift to the Old Dartmouth Historical Society in 1915 funded construction of the world’s largest ship model, the Lagoda, and the building that houses it at the Whaling Museum.

Funders & Contributors

Lighting the Way: Historic Women of the SouthCoast is grateful to the generous support of:

CHT Foundation
Mass Cultural Council
Individual donors

Lighting the Way: Historic Women of the SouthCoast is grateful to these Contributing Organizations:


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