Life Stories: Biographies of Remarkable Women

Pacific LadyPacific Lady: The First Woman to Sail Solo Across the Pacific Ocean by Sharon Sites Adams, with Karen J. Coates
Coates recounts the ocean crossing and stormy personal life of a brave pioneer, Oregon native Sharon Sites Adams, who in 1965 was the first woman to sail alone from the mainland U.S. to Hawaii.

The Road from Coorain by Jill Ker Conway
Conway, the first woman president of prestigious Smith College, relates the journey from her isolated Australian outback childhood to her forays into American education, with honesty, insight and humor.

Don’t Let’s Go To the Dogs Tonight: An African Childhood by Alexandra Fuller
This story of a white woman’s African childhood, shaped by racial struggles, is told with vibrant affection, revealing a rarely-seen world of family joy in the midst of turbulent national events.

Galileo’s Daughter: A Historical Memoir of Science, Faith and Love by Dava Sobel
Sobel excels in making the dusty past come alive, and this poignant tale of a daughter’s devotion to her embattled father highlights their loving humanity as well as the tumultuous times in which they lived.

Lipstick Jihad: A Memoir of Growing Up Iranian in America and American in Iran by Azadeh Moaveni
Time magazine reporter Moaveni feels torn between Californian and Iranian cultures as she learns about her heritage and herself while on assignment in Tehran.

Mockingbird: A Portrait of Harper Lee by Charles J. Shields
Given Lee’s extreme reserve, Shields does a remarkable job of painting a detailed and illuminating picture of the beloved author, from her childhood inspirations to her celebrated work with Truman Capote.

        ~ Misha & Ann, Central

Women on the Water

SailingThe first voice came to me as we anchored in the peaceful silence of Squirrel Cove, B. C.   In The Curve of Time, Wylie Blanchet’s classic Northwest boating  story of the remote boating community of British Columbia in the 1930’s, she was telling me of the summers long ago when she took her five children exploring the waters on the inside of Vancouver Island and the West Coast of British Columbia.  She talked to me of the daily common adventures with rough water, difficult anchorages, wild animals, wild children and the ghosts she had seen in this very same spot.

After years of watching from the shore, I had the  opportunity to join the boating community.  Exploring the beautiful waters of our Pacific Northwest naturally has led to exploring the writings of women boaters.  If you’ve ever dreamed of escaping your land locked life for the freedom, adventure and self-discovery of life on the water, these are stories by women who have done just that.  The unique voices blend with bravery, humor and insight to underscore the observation by Cathy Converse in Following the Curve of Time, “Cruising teaches humility, and the elements caution against impatience and flippancy.”   There’s a great many wonderful women on the water choices, so I’ve keep my list of recommendations to those with a Pacific LadyPacific Northwest connection.

Pacific Lady by Sharon Sites Adam (currently living in Portland, OR)  is the facinating tale of the voyage of the first woman to sail alone across the Pacific Ocean.

 Back Under Sail Back under Sail: Recovering the Spirit of Adventure by Magael Scherer is the  story of the Seattle author’s experience of a 5-day race in Alaska to heal from a nearly fatal rape three years earlier that stole her sense of freedom and adventure.

If the Shoe FitsIf the Shoe Fits: the Adventures of a Reluctant Boatfrau by Rae Ellen Lee is her account of how she and her husband a vacation in the Virgin Islands then leave Montana to become live-aboards in Bellingham, Washington.  With honesty and humor she recounts the shake  down period with both the boat and their relationship.

Deep Water Passage Deep Water Passage  by Ann Linnea, current Whidbey Island resident, tells the story of Linnea’s physical and spiritual quest to circumnavigate Lake Superior by kayak at age 43.visionswild

 Visions of the Wild by Maria Coffey is the  beautifully illustrated (with photographs by her husband) work that recounts the couple’s circumnavigation of Vancouver Island by kayak.

Red Sky in Mourning Red Sky in Mourning by Tami Oldham Ashcraft, now living in the San Juan Islands, is her true story of surviving 41 days alone at sea after her boat dismasted.  

            ~    Christine F, Central Library

Women of the Seattle Fire Department


Women fire fighters-Washington (State)- Seattle-Recruiting Poster-1978


beers_portrait_med1What’s it like being a pioneer?  Just ask Bonnie Beers.

Here’s your opportunity.  Beers, the first woman hired as a fire fighter for the Seattle Fire Department will be speaking on March 24th at 2:00 p.m. in the Bertha Knight Landes Room of City Hall.

The Seattle Municipal Archives has created a terrific online exhibit, “Strength & Stamina: Women in the Seattle Fire Department.” 

Lest you believe times must have surely changed a great deal since Beers joined the SFD,  this report from Cornell University, will enlighted you. While Seattle does have a higher than average percentage of women fire fighters (9%) on the job, the national average is still just 2.5%. ~ Carol L