Lighting the Way: Historic Women of the SouthCoast Launches July 12

Region-wide initiative amplifying history through a walking trail, website, mobile app

NEW BEDFORD, Mass – A new walking trail, website, and mobile app will be launched on July 12, 2018 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 pm and 7 pm on July 12. The event also includes family activities, refreshments, and give-aways, as well as a reception at 6 pm and guest speakers at 6:30 pm. 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 at

“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 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 at 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.

About the New Bedford Whaling Museum
The New Bedford Whaling Museum is the world's most comprehensive museum devoted to the global story of human interaction with whales through time, and the history and culture of the South Coast region. The cornerstone of New Bedford Whaling National Historical Park, the Museum is located at 18 Johnny Cake Hill in the heart of the city's historic downtown. Museum hours: January through March, Tuesday – Saturday 9 a.m. – 4 p.m. and Sunday 11 a.m. – 4 p.m.; April through December, daily from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. The Museum is open until 8 p.m. every second Thursday of the month. Closed on Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s Day.  Admission is: Free for Museum members and children aged three and under; adults $17, seniors (65+) $15, students (19+) $10, child and youth $7. For more information, visit


Media and Images Contact:
Tina Malott
Director of Marketing and Public Relations
New Bedford Whaling Museum



Lighting the Way trailmap

A sampling of the women featured in Lighting the Way: Historic Women of the SouthCoast:

Margaret A. Duggan Ryckebusch

Educator and labor leader Margaret A. Duggan Ryckebusch (1940-1998) was a professor, department head, and union leader at Bristol Community College. Margaret was also a leader in the area’s labor movement, serving on the New Bedford Central Labor Council and on the Advisory Committee of the Labor Education Center at the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth. Margaret is memorialized for her union work as part of this labor mural alongside other community activists.






Rachel Howland

Peace, love, and understanding were hallmarks of Rachel Howland (1816-1902). Rachel negotiated peace in labor disputes, was a respected minister in the Society of Friends, and founded the Association for the Relief of Aged Women of New Bedford based on the principle, “Not Alms Alone, But a Friend.”





Rosamond Alice Guinn

The first African American woman to become a registered pharmacist in southeastern Massachusetts, Rosamond Alice Guinn (1892-1923) graduated from New Bedford High School and the Massachusetts College of Pharmacy. While a pharmacy student, Rosamond was one of eight women who founded a club that became Lambda Kappa Sigma, the oldest professional fraternity for women in pharmacy. Rosamond returned to New Bedford and joined her father John, also a “druggist,” in the pharmacy business Guinn and Co.