The late Dr. Elizabeth Russell

Elizabeth Russell

Dr. Elizabeth S. Russell is an outstanding scientist, one of the relatively few women elected to the National Academy of Science, author of over 120 papers, with specialties in the patterns of aging and the genetics and physiology of blood abnormalities. Dr. Russell was born on May 1, 1913 in Ann Arbor, Michigan. Having graduated with a Ph.D. from the University of Chicago in 1937, she came to Jackson Laboratory, Bar Harbor as an independent investigator and retired in 1978 as Senior Staff Scientist. Dr. Russell's primary research interest has been in physiological genetics; hereditary disease; mouse hematology and aging.

Dr. Russell has traveled extensively including China and Africa for the World Health Organization. She has also been active in her community having served on numerous committees of town government. She has received international fellowships; she has also worked on Fundraising activities to benefit local scholarships for women and has spent much time counseling high school girls headed for college. Dr. Russell was a Trustee of the University of Maine from 1975 to 1983 and is currently a Trustee of the College of the Atlantic.

Dr. Russell raised four children, essentially as a single parent during the later years of their childhood. At the same time, her research of aging led to heavy involvement with the Maine Eastern Area Agency on Aging, dealing with social issues. In her "retirement" she has twice taught at Cuttington College, a women's college in Liberia, to which she took her wide knowledge of women's organizations in Maine, and from which she brought back and shared many new and exciting ideas.

As a featured panelist at each of three symposia for students at the University of Maine, Dr. Russell also managed to meet one-on-one with many of the students and to give each one a new sense of worth, ability, and higher potential. This is her specialty, which she has pursued throughout Maine at every opportunity. During her fifty years in Bar Harbor, she has sponsored an enormous number of students in her laboratory, from teenagers to post-doctoral investigators. An unusually high proportion have been women, many Maine natives, and many have stayed in Maine to carry on scientific research  and the education and encouragement of young women.

During her term as trustee of the University of Maine, she was a strong advocate of placing women in upper-level positions in faculty and administration, at a time when this placement was much rarer than now. Dr. Russell's efforts toward education and professional employment of women, together with her outstanding personal example as mother, teacher, scientist, and humanitarian, have made an enduring impact on the lives of many women in this State.

1989 Photograph


The late Elizabeth (Liz) W. Crandall 

Elizabeth Crandall

Home Economist, Feminist, Environmentalist, Citizen Activist, Liz Crandall is truly a leader in the movement to improve the physical, emotional, social, and political environment of the women of Maine. Liz earned her B.S. and M.S. degrees in family economics and resource management from Kansas State College, and her Ed.D. at Boston University, pursuing her interests in the foundations of education, human relations, and conflict resolution.

Using her background in resource management to improve her new hometown environment within weeks of moving to Brunswick, she voted for a curb-side recycling program and was appointed to the Brunswick Recycling Committee which she served as chair, helping to organize a successful model program. Liz was also involved in organizing, raising funds for, publicizing, and implementing the League of Women Voters' Hazardous Waste Pick-up.

On a statewide level, the American Association of University Women asked Liz to serve as representative to the New England Energy Task Force, of which she was an original member. Liz's roles in investigating alternative, safe energy sources, in improving the collection of hazardous wastes, and in establishing curb collection of recyclable wastes, are only a few examples of her commitment to improve the environment and the lives of residents of her adopted and beloved State of Maine.

As citizen activist for women, Liz advocated for services and legislation in domestic violence, equity, discrimination, reproductive freedom, and teen pregnancy. To inform and assist victims of domestic violence, Liz helped publicize state-wide the Information Guide for Abused Women in Maine. To further equity for women, Liz campaigned for the ERA; participated in the first Women's March on Washington, and a daybreak vigil in Kennebunkport during the Bush administration; lobbied personally on both state and federal levels to protect welfare programs for women and children; and wrote a series of newspaper articles on "getting out the vote". To combat discrimination in housing, credit, employment, and public accommodations against women, racial minorities, gays and lesbians, and people with AIDS, Liz served as legislative chair for AAUW and the Maine Home Economics Association and as a member of the Women's Legislative Agenda Coalition. Her work was recognized in 1987 when she received the Presidential Award of the Maine Lesbian/Gay Political Alliance for Courage, Service and Integrity.

From 1993-1995, Liz served as state liaison for AAUW's Legal Advocacy Fund which supports women who have sued institutions of higher education for gender discrimination. To protect women's reproductive freedom, Liz has been a representative to the Maine Choice Coalition since its inception and helped to develop its bylaws. Liz helped arrange hearings on legislation to provide courses in parenting and school-based child care for teen parents in an effort to end the cycle of uneducated and uninformed children bearing children.

1996 Photograph

Inducted March, 1996


Gilda Nardone

Gilda Nardone

Gilda Nardone has developed and managed the Maine Displaced Homemakers Program from the time service delivery began in 1978. The Maine Legislature funded a pilot program the previous year, one of several programs being developed across the country to address the needs of mid-life and older homemakers forced to enter or re-enter the paid labor force due to death, disability, or unemployment of a spouse, divorce or separation.

Under Gilda's leadership the Program has grown from a budget of $15,000 and one paid staff person to a budget of close to one million dollars and over 40 fulltime and part-time staff in 1993. Comprehensive community-based services are provided to over 1,000 individuals each year through 14 Resource Centers from Aroostook to York Counties.

Gilda grew up in a working class family in Presque Isle. Her mother became a displaced homemaker at 46 when Gilda's father died suddenly from a heart attack. She began her professional career as a secretary with an Associates Degree from Westbrook College. She became involved with the women's movement in the early 1970's and completed her BA through the University Without Walls Program at the University of Massachusetts while teaching day care and organizing women's services and resources on Cape Cod. Earning her M.S. in Educational Administration from Wheelock College expanded her interest in adult development, and she returned to Maine at 30 to continue her work with women.

Gilda's collaborative and empowering style is reflected throughout the Program's work on a community, state, regional, national, and international level. The Program is at the forefront in advocating for and expanding women's economic and leadership development opportunities.

Gilda serves as President of the Governing Board of the National Displaced Homemakers Network and previously represented New England for the NDHN and the Women's Work Force Network of Wider Opportunities for Women. She was the first Chair of the AFDC Advisory Council and currently Co-Chairs the Advisory Board of the Family Law Project.

In recognition of her significant contributions to women and girls in Maine, Gilda received the Maine Commission for Women's Progress Award in 1989 and the Maryann Hartman Award in 1991.

1993 Photograph

Inducted March, 1991


The late Ethel Wilson (Billie) Gammon

Ethel Gammon

Ethel "Billie" Wilson Gammon is a Mother, Grandmother, Teacher, Humanitarian, and the innovative Founder of the Washburn-Norlands Living History Center. A communityminded citizen and activist, Billie's background has included teaching Sunday School, being a Girl Scout leader and a youth leader of high school students, organizing the first senior citizens' group in the community and a reading club at the North Livermore Library.

Billie's most enduring endeavor has involved the Norlands, historic home of the famous Washburn family. Billie became interested in the Norlands library in 1954, and that interest became a lifelong passion to pursue her visions of the Living History Center that the Washburn farm has become.

Billie became the volunteer Executive Director of the Norlands Living History Center, negotiating the establishment of a Foundation and the transfer of ownership from the members of the Washburn family to the Foundation in 1973. With some help from other volunteers, Billie has worked intently to preserve the mansion of 23 rooms, the large barn, church, library, schoolhouse, office building, two carriage sheds and about 450 acres of land. Extensive fund-raising efforts have been essential, and Billie has devoted much time and skill to this endeavor, working to secure grants and private donations over many years.

Always a teacher, Billie has never stopped developing educational programs at Norlands. Young women from Maine and other states have come as interns for periods of six months or a year, and have lived, learned, studied, and worked to earn college credits. Many girls attending the learning center have gone on to become history majors, to teach or to work in museums because of Billie's influence.

Billie organized "Live-Ins" which are held Friday to Monday periodically throughout the year. Women, girls, teachers, and even families may attend, having the unique experience of living, learning and working as was done in the 1800s. This program attracts people from many parts of the country. Maine children also benefit from the Living History Center with whole classes of schoolchildren arriving by bus to spend a day in this historic atmosphere where people who lived and worked on the Washburn farm a hundred years ago come to life in contemporary times in the roles played by current volunteers. Billie values this kind of "role playing" as an effective and memorable teaching procedure for people of all ages.

Among the many honors Billie has received are the Achievement Citation Award (AAUW of Maine, 1976), Outstanding Woman of the Year (Livermore/Livermore Falls Historical Society, 1976), Distinguished Achievement Award (University of Maine Farmington, 1976), Distinguished Alumni Award (University of Maine Machias, 1979), Honorary Membership (Delta Kappa Gamma, 1980), Jefferson Award (1983), Maine Historic Preservation Award (1983), Woman of the Year (Business and Professional Women, 1988), Appreciation Award (North East Regional Conference on the Social Studies, 1991), and "Recognition of 34 years as Director of Norlands" from the Maine Senate and House of Representatives (1988).

The Norlands Living History Museum has become a valuable reality for the people of Maine because of Billie Gammon's foresight and determination in the pursuit of her vision for it. Beyond her tireless efforts to make this dream come true, Billie's smile and her enthusiasm are contagious and have endeared her to everyone who has become a friend of Norlands. Billie's life is a testimonial of what an innovative and determined woman can accomplish.

1997 Photograph

Inducted March 1997


The late Gail H. Laughlin, J.D

Gail Laughlin

Gail H. Laughlin was born Abbie Hill Laughlin at Robbinston, Maine (near Calais) in 1868. She was one of nine children. In 1890 she attended Wellesley College after spending four years as a bookkeeper, earning only $4.00 per week to pay for her tuition to college. In 1896 Gail Laughlin entered Cornell School of Law from which she graduated in 1898. Ms. Laughlin was the first woman from Maine to practice law. She moved to California to begin her work as an attorney, followed by a judgeship in San Francisco.

Gail Laughlin became involved in the suffrage movement (women's right to vote) in New York, Ohio, Kentucky, Nebraska, and Minnesota. At that time, all travel was by stagecoach. As her involvement in women's issues grew, she traveled to St. Louis in 1919 to attend a women's organizational meeting which established the National Federation of Business and Professional Women's Clubs. Gail Laughlin was elected the first president of this new organization which still exists today as an International association with over 100,000 members in the United States.

In 1924 Gail Laughlin returned to Portland, Maine where she opened a law firm with her brother, Fred. She became the president of a local Portland chapter of the Business and Professional Women's Clubs in 1926, when the national convention was held there. She served three terms in the Maine House (1927-1934) and then three terms in the Maine Senate (1937-1941) and was the first woman with a law degree to be a member of the Maine legislature.

Gail Laughlin introduced and supported many pieces of legislation. Included were bills on the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, establishing an overseer to control the use of drugs, early environmental laws regarding waste dumping into Maine rivers, and obtaining funding for a 22,666 acre national wildlife preserve in Washington County in the 1930's (now Moosehorn Wildlife Refuge). She was also instrumental in organizing the Department of Health.

In addition, she sponsored several bills which were instrumental in helping women. She sponsored An Act Relating to the Commitment of the Insane to stop husbands from committing their wives involuntarily. She supported a Registration Bureau for Nurses, an increase in the minimum wage and regulations, and sponsored a bill conferring equal rights of guardianship for father and mother. Perhaps one of the most important bills affecting girls involved changing the law permitting girls to marry at age 13 and boys at 15 to 16 years for girls and 18 years for boys.

Gail Laughlin died at the age of 84 in Portland, Maine.

1920 Photograph

Inducted March, 1991