From UWT’s Oral History Collection: Interviews with Influential Women of the Puget Sound

Today, Friday March 8th, in recognition International Women’s Day the UW Tacoma Library would like to share some of the inspiring women from our region included in our oral history collection, the Tacoma Community History Project. You can read their full stories (including transcribed interviews) by following the links below.


Ren Wilson, Ruth Nordstrom, Anne Gregory, Linda Wilhelm:

Ren Z. Wilson

In this collection of transcripts, four veterans reflect on their military careers and their connections to the Veterans Affairs Medical Center at American Lake. This includes Ren Wilson, a former domiciliary resident, who recounts the social barriers she encountered as an African-American female officer; Ruth Nordstrom, who describes her time as an office clerk for Womens Army Corp during World War II and for Women in the Air Force during the Korean War; Anne Gregory, a psychiatric nurse, discusses her experiences in Vietnam; and Linda Wilhelm, a resident of the domiciliary, discusses her service time in the US Navy during the Vietnam era and describes some of the difficulties she faced as a gay woman in the military.

View the full project American Lake Veterans Affairs Medical Center.

Patty Rose

Patty Rose

In her interview, Patty Rose gives an overview of nearly four decades of involvement with the Tacoma labor movement and discusses her position as secretary-treasurer for the Pierce County Central Labor Council. She describes the PCCLCs role as an umbrella organization and talks about the specific political and educational resources that are gathered on behalf of members. She also comments on some issues faced by labor unions and American workers in general, including outsourcing, rising healthcare costs, and loss of pension benefits.

View the full project Patty Rose, Pierce County Central Labor Council.

Shirley Aikin & Adriane Tillman

Shirley Aikin

Adriene Tillman and Shirley Aikin examine the social trends and attitudes that have shaped their experiences as African-American nurses. Particular attention is paid to the interviewees involvement with the Ebony Nurses Association of Tacoma, a local organization that provides professional and personal support to its members. Other topics of discussion include Tillmans union activity with the Washington State Nurses Association, Aikins teaching career at Pacific Lutheran University, and the current strengths and weaknesses of the nursing profession.

View full project Nurses Need to be Taken Care of, Too: Stories of Black Nurses in the Workplace.

Gloria Stancich

Gloria Stancich

In this interview, Gloria Stancich, a longtime civil rights activist and community leader, discusses her work in numerous LGBTQ organizations, her work in the Tacoma community, and her path to civic involvement. Her interview also discusses her personal journey and long road to self-acceptance.

View the full project Splendid Gestures: Gloria Stancich and the Gay/Lesbian Community in Tacoma.


Lena Landry Davis

Lena Landry Davis

In this series of interviews, Puyallup Tribal Elder Lena Landry recounts stories from her childhood, focusing in particular on her time at the St. George’s and Chemawa Indian Schools and at Cushman Indian Hospital. She also touches on her later work within the Puyallup Tribe and the Puyallup Tribal Council, as well as her work with the Metropolitan Development Council.

View the full project The Story of Lena Landry Davis: Puyallup Tribal Elder.


Shirley Winsley & Lorraine Wojahn

Lorraine Wojahn
Shirley Winsley

In this interview, former Washington State Senators Shirley Winsley and Lorraine Wojahn discuss their decade-spanning political careers and their roles as women legislators in Washington. They also comment on the trends and shifts in American politics that they experienced during their careers.

View the full project Then and Now: Women Legislators in Washington State.



The Tacoma Community History Project is a growing oral history collection. The projects are created by UW Tacoma students under the supervision of Professor Michael K. Honey and in partnership with the UWT Library. Click to learn more about the Tacoma Community History Project.

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