This webpage documents a traveling exhibit created under the supervision of the Martin-Springer Institute in partnership with Flagstaff’s Arizona Historical Society.
The stories of women presented in the Resilience exhibit cover each decade from the 1880s to 2020s in the former pioneer and mountain town of Flagstaff in northern Arizona. Women have been part of Flagstaff’s social fabric from its very beginnings in the 1880s. They employed entrepreneurial skills when Flagstaff was still a railroad and lumber town, made it their home after arriving from as far away as China, navigated the economic crisis of the 1930s, helped to integrate the town in the 1960s, embraced diversity, and created opportunities for the less-fortunate. Throughout the decades, women have shaped the town’s development as public figures and caretakers. Through their stories, we can trace societal changes in a small town of America’s Southwest.
For a long time, the voices of women and minorities have not been preserved in the official archives of knowledge. These stories recover forgotten histories and recognize the role of women in Arizona’s historical narrative.
The women covered in this exhibit have something to teach us about resilience in the face of personal hardship and adverse environments, of painful legacies and economic woes. Their stories about building and rebuilding their lives in the face of adversity speak to their resourcefulness, perseverance, determination, prudence, and their caring spirit that holds communities together. These women stood up for themselves and others. If resilience is our ability to cope with hardships without letting our lives become emptied of meaning, then the past may serve as a source of encouragement when life gets tough.