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New museum exhibit honors Idaho's female trailblazers

Posted at 8:25 AM, Mar 15, 2021

BOISE, Idaho — This month is Women's History Month. Idaho has a rich and diverse history of strong women, and the Idaho State Museum is looking back at their stories in a new exhibit.

The Trailblazers exhibit features the stories of women from all across Idaho--including icons like Kristin Armstrong, Sally Reed, and Barbara Morgan--and how they made their mark on history.

"I mean it gives me goosebumps," said Armstrong. "To be considered somebody that's making an impact in our state--that has a voice and somebody that can be the legacy of providing inspiration to all people."

"To be here just gave me chills thinking about it," said Liz Hobson, the Idaho State Museum administrator. "Here are the stories and you can find yourself everywhere."

For the woman behind the exhibit, Sarah Phillips, there is no shortage of inspiring women to feature.

"It was a difficult process to figure everyone out, because how do you pick," Phillips asked. "How do you get to that point where you decide to highlight a person and make it magical for them?"

One of the stories that stuck out to Phillips the most was the Queen of Swing: Mildred Bailey. Bailey was raised on the Couer d'Alene Reservation in Northern Idaho. When she grew up, her sound would inspire superstars like Bing Crosby and Frank Sinatra.

Her story has never been shared quite like this.

"She changed American Jazz music," explained Phillips. "How else do you tell a story of someone who's left us other than sharing their voice, seeing their pictures, talking with their family about what a person they were."

Bailey's stories, and dozens of others, showcase diversity and send a message that anyone can be a trailblazer.

"As people walk through, they're going to see people from different backgrounds, cultures, different physical abilities," Phillips said. "My hope is that everyone sees themselves somewhere."

If you'd like to check out the exhibit, click here.