Rose Elizabeth Bird was forty years old when in 1977 Governor Edmund G. “Jerry” Brown chose her to become California’s first female supreme court chief justice. Appointed to a court with a stellar reputation for being the nation’s most progressive, Bird became a lightning rod for the opposition due to her liberalism, inexperience, and gender. Over the next decade, her name became a rallying cry as critics mounted a relentless effort to get her off the court. Bird survived three unsuccessful recall efforts, but her opponents eventually succeeded in bringing about her defeat in 1986, making her the first chief justice to be removed from the California Supreme Court.

Rose Bird: The Last Interview

From the Desk of Kathleen Cairns: The Brass Ring of Feminism


A gravestone, a mention in local archives, stories still handed down around Oyster Bay: the outline of a woman begins to emerge and with her the world she inhabited, so rich in tradition and shaken by violent change. Katie Kettle Gale was born into a Salish community in Puget Sound in the 1850s, just as settlers were migrating into what would become Washington State. With her people forced out of their traditional hunting and fishing grounds into ill-provisioned island camps and reservations, Katie Gale sought her fortune in Oyster Bay. In that early outpost of multiculturalism—where Native Americans and immigrants from the eastern United States, Europe, and Asia vied for economic, social, political, and legal power—a woman like Gale could make her way.

Oyster Bay Historical Society

No Stranger to Change: The Oyster Bay of Katie Gale

Katie Gale: A Coast Salish Woman’s Live on Oyster Bay

The Backstory: Have you eaten an Olympia oyster?


Educator Hannah Clapp traveled to California with a revolver by her side, speaking her mind in a letter included in this volume, which is also enriched by the trail diaries of seven other women. Among them were Sarah Sutton, who died in 1854, just before reaching Oregon’s Willamette Valley; Sarah Maria Mousley, a Mormon woman traveling to Utah in 1857; and Martha Missouri Moore, who drove thousands of sheep from Missouri to California with her husband in 1860.

Wild of the West: Hannah Clapp

Hannah Keziah Clapp, Education Trailblazer

First Woman to Scale Pikes Peak Did So with Panache

Julia Archibald-Holmes


San Francisco’s Queen of Vice uncovers the story of one of the most skilled, high-priced, and corrupt abortion entrepreneurs in America. Even as Prohibition was the driving force behind organized crime, abortions became the third-largest illegal enterprise as state and federal statutes combined with changing social mores to drive abortionists into hiding. Inez Brown Burns, a notorious socialite and abortionist in San Francisco, made a fortune providing her services to desperate women throughout California. Beginning in the 1920s, Burns oversaw some 150,000 abortions until her trial and conviction brought her downfall.

Inez Burns’ Abortion Clinic Was One Of San Francisco’s Worst Kept Secrets