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About the Lighting the Way Profiles

In the winter of 2017 a newly-formed alliance of organizations and individuals set out to explore the impact of women from Greater New Bedford on the region’s history. Initially called Women of Greater New Bedford, and later renamed Lighting the Way, the project was a collaborative effort of individuals and organizations across the SouthCoast. To compile and share the stories of historic women of the region, New Bedford Whaling Museum named Ann O’Leary, MLS, as the first Emily Bourne Research Fellow and began developing this website.

To identify inspirational women to feature on the website, organizers asked the public to suggest names for consideration. Dozens of women who were born in or lived in the region were suggested. Names ranged from well-known historical figures like businesswoman Hetty Green, to women who are not as well documented in the annals of history, but are or were beloved by their communities, such as educator Marial Harper.

O’Leary and a handful of dedicated volunteers have used obituaries, newspaper articles, oral histories, and other resources to compile profiles that capture the essence of each woman and highlights from each woman’s story. Some profiles were written by relatives or other people who knew the women well. Resources used by the profile’s author are in the “Information from” section at the bottom of each profile.

Research continues and new profiles are being added each month.

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