Event highlights the early women of Oceanside history

OCEANSIDE — The Early Women of Oceanside lecture on Oct. 22 was the culminating event in a six-week series that explored the life, works and time of author Louisa May Alcott.
The National Endowment for the Humanities grant funded 15 library events and programs that centered on Alcott.
“She is very popular right now,” CJ Di Mento, adult services librarian, said. “Several books were written on her recently.”
The series of programs connected readers to the East Coast author who lived from 1832 to 1888.
While Alcott is widely known for writing the novel “Little Women,” she was also an early abolitionist, feminist and author of many works for children and adults.
History scholar Donna Thune spoke about the various jobs Alcott held, including working as a teacher, a seamstress and a Civil War nurse in addition to working as a writer.
Oceanside Historical Society President Kristi Hawthorne shared some history of Oceanside women around the time Alcott lived and wrote.
Oceanside was incorporated as a city in 1888. Women of the time set up shops and started the library.
History was shared about the Bells of San Luis Rey, a group of 100-year-old Native American women who were tour guides of sorts and shared the early history of Oceanside with visitors at Mission San Luis Rey in the 1880s.
Other notable Oceanside women included Ysidora Bandini de Couts, who was born in San Diego to the esteemed Bandini family and later married and moved into Rancho Guajome, the first grand estate in San Luis Rey Valley.
Elise Reed Averill was an early schoolteacher who taught at Oceanside High School when it opened in 1888.
“To me history about our community gives a sense of place and belonging,” Hawthorne said. “We are more a part of it if we are aware of it. It instills a sense of pride and begins discussion.”
The Oceanside Historical Society began in 1985. The group gathers local records and photos and conducts research upon request.
“We have made big strides preserving history,” Hawthorne said. “We have the largest photo collections in San Diego County.”
The Oceanside Historical Society has well over 10,000 photos. It is currently in the process of putting all of its photos in a searchable digital archive.
“We’re like-minded people who want to preserve history and are passionate about sharing it,” Hawthorne said.

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