Wednesday, September 9, 2009
OLYMPIA - Space pioneer and Outlook native Bonnie Dunbar, Washington's first female astronaut and now head of the acclaimed Museum of Flight, is the latest Washingtonian of distinction to have her life story told by The Legacy Project, the oral history program established in 2008 by the Washington Secretary of State.
Dunbar, whose extraordinary story began on a little cattle ranch in Outlook, is one of just 51 women who have blasted into space.
Her story, including a biography and an oral history based on sit-down interviews, plus photos and other materials, have just been posted at www.secstate.wa.gov/legacyproject/oralhistories/BonnieDunbar/default.aspx.
The emphasis on space exploration and the advancement of women in science and technology comes as America celebrates the 40th anniversary of the moon landing.
A rollout ceremony was held yesterday, Tuesday, at the Museum of Flight in Seattle, where Dr. Dunbar is president and CEO. Secretary of State Sam Reed was the keynote speaker for the program, which also included presentations by Kevin Callaghan, board chairman of the Museum of Flight, and Dunbar herself.
The Legacy Project e-publishes oral histories and biographies of Washingtonians who have been instrumental in shaping our history. The materials are published online and are free for easy click-on reading or downloading.
In the past nine months, The Legacy Project has offered up profiles of Charles Z. Smith, the first ethnic minority on the State Supreme Court; pioneering female journalist Adele Ferguson; rocker-turned-civic activist Krist Novoselic; former Chief Justice Robert F. Utter; and federal judge Carolyn Dimmick, who was the first woman on the State Supreme Court. Civil rights pioneer Lillian Walker was profiled in August.
Soon to be published is the oral history and biography of former Washington first lady Nancy Bell Evans. An oral history with former Governor Booth Gardner is in preparation, and a biography of the late Congresswoman Jennifer Dunn also is in the works.
"It is a real treat for Washingtonians and people around the globe to learn more about the Bonnie Dunbar story," Reed said. "She literally saw that the sky was the limit, and through an excellent work-ethic, a top-notch education and family support, she excelled in a male-dominated field and flew five missions in space. As an astronaut and now as director of the amazing Museum of Flight, she provides a stellar role model for young people everywhere."