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UC Davis Historians Bring Women's Stories to National Parks

UC Davis historians have made the stories of the roles women played in shaping the landscape accessible to historians, park employees, resource centers and the general public for sites in the Pacific and Western United States, where the national parks began.
National Parks frequently tell the history of explorers, labor leaders or even some of the Native people whose homelands are part of park regions. But stories of women, especially Native women or other women of color, who played a role in shaping their landscape have often gone uncovered.
UC Davis Professors Lisa Materson and Ellen Hartigan-O’Connor, together with graduate students Faith Bennett, Emma Chapman, Ellie Kaplan and Charlotte Hansen Terry have made these stories around National Parks accessible. The stories were uploaded in digital format, which allowed them to be seen by a larger audience. Coincidentally, the timing made it so the work in the two-year project was all done during COVID-19 shutdowns, when people didn’t have access to parks, at times, and many were working remotely.
The project was funded to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which extended the national right to vote to women. The project was made possible through a $32,000 grant in 2020 from the National Park Service, which sought historians’ help after surveys of Americans indicated they wished they had learned more about women’s roles in U.S. history.
View a summary of their work here.
Read an article written by these historians about the women who created National Parks, worked in them, and lived in and around them here.
View the stories of women and their effects on National Parks here.