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  • Writer's picturelauraquinnwrites

Remarkable Women of the New Jersey Shore

Updated: Feb 4, 2021

Welcome to the premiere segment of Laura’s Library- an exhibition of the research materials I poured over while preparing my historical fiction novel, Thicker Than Water. Part companion reading, part fun facts; it’s shore to become your go-to destination for all things vintage New Jersey. Ladies first, shall we?

Spanning multiple decades, Karen Schnitzspahn offers readers a diverse cross-section of fearless females from the great Garden State. From coastal workers to artists, lifeguards to leaders; this book was an absolute pleasure to read. While all of these lovely ladies earned a special place in my heart, I couldn’t help but to include two of them in my manuscript as well. Taking a sledgehammer to the glass ceiling, both women were trailblazers in their respective fields at the time; setting the tone for many generations to follow.

A pioneer in medicine, Dr. Margaret Mace (top, right), was a force to be reckoned with. Maggie was known for her gentle compassion. From shipwrecks to auto accidents, minor ailments to shark bites, she treated them all throughout her 45 years of service. She also delivered more than 6,000 babies before her retirement.

Some of her accolades include:

· 1905: she graduates from the Women’s College of Medicine in Philadelphia and starts her own practice in North Wildwood

· 1911: working in collaboration with Five Mile Beach investors, Maggie opens Samaritan Hospital of Cape May County

· 1915: opens Mace Emergency Hospital- a 25 bed facility in the former mansion of Titanic victim Frederick Sutton where she worked tirelessly until 1950.

· 1935: rode horseback through a blinding snowstorm to assist a mother in labor. She was 65 years-old at the time.

· Mace Babies: organized in 2005 by Dorothy Kulisek (artist and publisher of Sun by the Sea newspaper), the event is a reunion of people who were delivered by the good doctor. Learn more about this annual, fun-filled get together here.

Joy Bright Hancock (bottom, left) dedicated her life to paving the way for women’s equality in the military, proudly serving during both world wars. Another native of Wildwood, these are just a few of her many accomplishments…

· 1918: enlists as a yeoman (F) in the U.S. Navy during the Great War where she was soon stationed at Cape May Naval Air Station.

· 1928: takes flying lessons in her spare time while attending the Crawford Foreign Service School in Georgetown.

· 1938: publishes 'Airplanes in Action'

· 1942: becomes a lieutenant in WAVES (Women Accepted for Volunteer Emergency Service); an acronym for the Women’s Reserve of the United States Naval Reserve. She went on to take command of the organization in 1945.

· 1948: after years of diligence and perseverance in pursuit of the legislation, President Truman signed the Women’s Armed Service’s Integration Act, which Hancock helped draft.

· 1967: Captain Hancock is invited to the White House, where President Johnson signed another bill removing the restrictions of rank for all women in the armed services

· 1972: publishes 'Lady of the Navy'

You can buy this book on Amazon here .

The George F. Boyer Museum in Wildwood also has permanent exhibits dedicated to both of these incredible women.

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