Celebrate Women’s History Month in Palo Alto

City of Palo Alto
Published in
5 min readMar 9


Women’s History Month originated as a national celebration in 1981 as Women’s History Week. After petitions from the National Women’s History Project, the first Women’s History Month was officially designated in March 1987. Today, Women’s History Month is an opportunity to recognize the specific achievements women have made over the course of American history. To help you celebrate, we’re sharing events and activities that honor women of the past and present — from Palo Alto and beyond.

Visit Lucie Stern Community Center & Stanford University

Known as the Fairy Godmother of Palo Alto, philanthropist Lucie Stern’s impact on Palo Alto cannot be overstated. Stern, the widow of a Levi Strauss heir, spent decades supporting professors and impoverished students at Stanford University, and her legacy can still be felt today as you walk the campus. She’s also known for her role in creating venues, institutions, and parks which you can still visit today.

A great place to start is the Lucie Stern Community Center, home to the Palo Alto Children’s Theatre.

Photo of Lucie Stern courtesy of the Palo Alto Historical Association

Visit the Palo Alto Junior Museum & Zoo

Did you know that the original Palo Alto Junior Museum — before there was a zoo — was created by a woman? Palo Altan Josephine O’Hara was the driving force behind its creation in the 1930s, after which it quickly became known as the first children’s museum west of the Mississippi River.

O’Hara was inspired to create a small museum to occupy children during the Great Depression, an idea the community quickly embraced. She helped create the first iteration of the museum at the Palo Alto Public Library and in July 1934, the Children’s Museum officially opened with O’Hara as the curator.

Photo courtesy of the Palo Alto Historical Association

In late 2021, the Palo Alto Junior Museum & Zoo reopened after doubling its footprint, offering more educational and entertaining experiences for children of all ages. There’s always a new activity — such as hands-on family science programs — or exhibits to explore. Later this year the California Dinosaur Garden will debut, featuring an immersive experience of the Cretaceous period in California.

On March 21 at 3 pm the Palo Alto Junior Museum & Zoo will host “Picturing Women Inventors,” a poster exhibition that explores the inventions of 19 highly accomplished American women.

Take a Self-Guided Tour of Palo Alto Neighborhoods from the Woman’s Club

Founded in 1894 by a group of women in the Stanford Mother’s Club — spearheaded by Mary Grafton Campbell — the Woman’s Club of Palo Alto incorporated with 24 members. Grafton Campbell was elected President and served in that office through 1898.

Photos courtesy of the Woman’s Club of Palo Alto

The Club was the women’s arm of local government and school affairs at a time when women were ineligible to vote or hold political offices. Club members initiated many community initiatives we often take for granted today, such as:

  • Convincing City Hall to install sewers to prevent typhoid that had decimated other towns
  • Purchasing, planting, watering, and pruning street trees and recommending park locations and landscaping
  • Opening the first Elementary and High Schools in Palo Alto and founding the Palo Alto library
  • Sponsoring town clean-up days

These civic-minded women dreamed of having their own clubhouse, which took over a decade of fundraising and was launched in 1916. Today this charming historic building is a popular venue for community meetings, events and celebrations.

The Club’s website offers self-guided tours of the nearby homes and neighborhoods of early members, such as Homer Avenue Corridor, Embarcadero and Ramona Street.

Photo of 737 Bryant, a 1903 Colonial Revival residence that served as the former home of Louise and Major Henry Perry, courtesy of the Woman’s Club of Palo Alto.

Attend a Local Event

Several Palo Alto Library upcoming events celebrate Women’s History Month, including:

Read about Trailblazing Women

The Palo Alto Library has put together reading lists in honor of Women’s History Month, including:

More Online Resources

Find the Women’s History Month Guide from Palo Alto Library

Learn more about Lucie Stern Community Center

Learn more about the Palo Alto Children’s Theatre

Learn More about the Palo Alto Junior Museum & Zoo

Find Women’s Support Group Meetups in Palo Alto

Learn more about Woman’s Club of Palo Alto

Learn more about Palo Alto Lean In Circle

Learn more about Junior League of Palo Alto

Learn more about UN Women



City of Palo Alto

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