In Her Boots: Women in the Forests

By Amanda Ross on March 8, 2009

In honor of International Women's Day, please enjoy a brief sampling of FHS resources on women in forest-related professions.

Dr. Eloise Gerry at microscope.

Dr. Eloise Gerry at microscope.

Our U.S. Forest History portal highlights the contributions of many foresters, scientists, and others. The efforts of females employees are recognized, including those of:

  • Research scientist Eloise Gerry, who conducted pioneering work in microscopical studies of the anatomy of resin-yielding pines, and successfully developed methods to increase yield as well as prolong the working life of trees.
  • Public relations specialist Margaret March-Mount, also known as the "Ambassador of Trees." March-Mount developed the pennies for pines Children's Conservation Crusade, which encouraged children to give pennies for planting pine trees on national forests.
  • Hallie M. Daggett, who became the first female fire lookout in the Forest Service in 1913.   She spent 15 years on the job, working at the Eddy Gulch fire tower on the Klamath National Forest.

The Forest History Society Oral History Collection comprises more than 250 interviews conducted with individuals involved in the management and use of forests and their related resources.  Chosen individuals include women who have distinguished themselves through the primacy of their positions and their work achievements.  Many interviews conducted over the last couple of decades relate the contentious political atmosphere experienced by women who held relatively high positions of leadership within the U.S. Forest Service.

Full transcripts are available online for the interviews with Geri Vanderveer Bergen, the agency's first female forest supervisor, and Wendy Milner Herrett, the first female district ranger for the U.S. Forest Service.

In the Fall 2008 issue of Forest History Today, FHS staff reviewed the recently published A Mile in Her Boots: Women Who Work in the Wild (see p. 69).  This collection of stories by female wilderness and outdoor professionals is easily accessible to the general reader.  The anthology allows the reader to leisurely explore the different experiences, including forest ranger, outdoor guide, scientist, smokejumper, and fire lookout.

The Photograph Collection offers varied and interesting images of women in forest management and the wood products industry. The images below are linked to a larger version of the image and detailed caption information. If you would like to see more, please search the FHS Image Database, using the search terms "women" or "women at work."

Spreading casein water resistant glue at the Forest products Laboratory

Spraying clear varnish on the cane seat of chair, Tell City Chair Factory.

Fire lookout Thelma Duke operates radio at Chase Mountain lookout tower in Oregon.

Ranger's Clerk reading precipitation gauge.