Celebrating Women of Yosemite: Icons of Nature and Inspiration

Mar 27, 2024Yosemite National Park

March is a time to celebrate the indomitable spirit and contributions of women worldwide. As we honor International Women’s Month, it’s fitting to shine a spotlight on the remarkable women who have left an unforgettable mark on Yosemite National Park, one of nature’s most breathtaking wonders. From pioneering climbers to conservationists, these women have shaped the history of Yosemite and inspired generations with their passion, determination, and love for the outdoors.

Shirley Sargent

Shirley Sargent moved to Yosemite National Park when she was 9 years old when her father took a job as a park surveyor. After college, she became an author and historian who dedicated her life to chronicling the stories of Yosemite and its inhabitants. Her meticulously researched books, including “Pioneers in Petticoats: Yosemite’s Early Women. 1856-1900,” shed light on the park’s rich cultural heritage and the pivotal role women played in its history. Through her writings, Sargent ensured that the voices of Yosemite’s women were heard and their legacies preserved for posterity.

Clare Marie Hodges

Claire Marie Hodges was Yosemite’s first female park ranger. The opportunity came about during WWI when the parks were finding it difficult to staff men due to the war. She applied for the position in the spring of 1918 where she told the superintendent, Washington B. Lewis, “Probably you’ll laugh at me, but I want to be a ranger.” He responded, “I beat you to it, young lady. It’s been on my mind for some time to put a woman on one of these patrols.”

Maggie Howard

Born at Mono Lake, Maggie Howard, a Paiute Native American, spent much of her life in Yosemite Valley. She was one of the first Native American women to be employed by the Yosemite Museum from 1929-1942 to do cultural demonstrations, which included demonstrating acorn preparation and basket weaving.

Jennie Foster Curry

A college graduate, which was not typical for women of this time, Jennie Foster Curry and her husband, David Curry, moved to Yosemite in 1989. Together, they ran a tent camp called Camp Curry, located at Glacier Point’s base. In the years following, Curry took care of the guests at the popular site until her husband passed in 1917. Then she took it upon herself to expand the camp, which in 5 years had grown from around 250 tents to 650 tents, 60 rooms, multiple eating facilities, bathhouses, post office, and more. 

Celebrating the Inspirational Women of Yosemite

As we celebrate International Women’s Month, let us pay tribute to these remarkable women who have left an indelible imprint on Yosemite National Park. Their legacies inspire us to embrace the great outdoors, pursue our passions with unwavering determination, and strive to protect and preserve our planet’s natural wonders for generations to come.