A new walking trail, website, and mobile app will be launched on July 12 to tell the stories of remarkable, historic women who shaped their SouthCoast communities, the nation and the world.

The three new windows on history are the result of extensive research conducted by the historians and scholars of “Lighting the Way: Historic Women of the SouthCoast,” a community project led by the New Bedford Whaling Museum.

The mission of the project is to explore the impact of historical women from diverse cultural and ethnic backgrounds throughout history.

Guided tours of the “Lighting the Way Walking Trail” will leave from the New Bedford Whaling Museum every 30 minutes between 5 p.m. and 7 p.m. on July 12. The event also includes family activities, refreshments and giveaways, as well as a reception at 6 p.m. and guest speakers at 6:30 p.m. Actors will portray some of the historic women featured in the project while interacting with visitors.

The “Lighting the Way” launch is free and open to the public. Details are available on the Whaling Museum's website.

“Lighting the Way: Historic Women of the SouthCoast” is a collaborative project, involving a diverse group of organizations and individuals who care passionately about including women’s contributions in the dialogue of the history of the SouthCoast.

“Our work amplifies history by raising women’s voices,” explained Sarah Rose, Vice President of Education and Programs at the Whaling Museum.

In 2017, the “Lighting the Way” project committee invited public input to identify women who should be included in the project.

“The project has unearthed remarkable stories of women’s callings that required grit, tenacity, and enduring commitment to their families, careers, and communities,” said Rose.

Ann O’Leary, Emily Bourne Fellow at the Whaling Museum, is the lead researcher on the project.

More than 60 women are included on the project’s new website www.historicwomensouthcoast.org. Detailed online profiles tell the stories of educators, philanthropists, abolitionists, crusaders for social justice, investors, confectioners, sister sailors, millworkers and others.

A printed “Lighting the Way Walking Trail Map” and mobile app guide walkers to locations associated with 34 inspiring women in New Bedford. The trail map is available at the Whaling Museum and other locations in the downtown area. The associated mobile app is available on the Apple Store or Google Play.

“Lighting the Way” is an ongoing project. A school curriculum framework that supports educators to bring these stories into the classroom and provide useful resources is under development.

“Lighting the Way” will mark the 2020 centennial of the 19th Amendment and women’s right to vote with a traveling exhibit, riveting speakers, city-wide events in New Bedford, public art, and other engaging programs.

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