Women in the Commercial Fishing Industry Research Collection, 1902-1995

Overview of the Collection

Morris, Carole Teshima
Women in the Commercial Fishing Industry Research Collection
1902-1995 (inclusive)
1988-1995 (bulk)
1 linear ft.
Collection Number
XOE_CPNWS0133womeninfishing (collection)
Western Washington University, Center for Pacific Northwest Studies
Goltz-Murray Archives Building
808 25th St.
Bellingham, WA
Telephone: (360) 650-7534
Access Restrictions

The collection is open to the public.

Funding for preparing this finding aid was provided through a grant awarded by the Washington State Legislature to the Washington Women's History Consortium. Funding for encoding the finding aid was awarded by the National Endowment for the Humanities.

Historical NoteReturn to Top

These materials were collected by Carole Teshima Morris for a senior thesis project on women in the commercial fishing industry for the department of history at Western Washington University. The resulting paper was entitled, "Permission to Come Aboard? Right to Come Aboard? Women in the Pacific Northwest Fishing Fleet, 1945-1993." During the course of her research, Morris collected numerous newspaper clippings, statistics, and scholarly articles. Morris also conducted five oral interviews with fisherwomen to add to the written research material that she collected.

Content DescriptionReturn to Top

The materials in this collection document issues relating to women working in the Alaskan and Pacific Northwest commercial fishing industry. The bulk of this collection is comprised of photocopied material gathered by Carole Morris during the course of her research on the topic. She amassed not only a number of newspaper clippings that relate to fisherwomen, but also articles, scholarly journals and trade magazines that pertain to commercial fishing in general. In addition to articles and clippings, the collection includes bibliographic and archival repository reference information as well as findings and reports from commissions like the Washington State Fish Commissioner and the Commercial Fishers Project of the Seaman's Church Institute of New York and New Jersey. The collection spans from 1902 to the mid 1990s, although the majority of it dates from 1988 to 1995. Among the major topics covered in this collection are equality, general fishing laws and regulations, names and statistics of fisherwomen in the region, as well as issues of discrimination and harrassment affecting women working in a male dominated profession.

Morris's finished thesis, "Permission to Come Aboard? Right to Come Aboard? Women in the Pacific Northwest Fishing Fleet, 1945-1993," ties together these numerous sources on the commercial fishing industry. The interviews date from 1993. Also included are the interview forms and questionnaires that she used.

Use of the CollectionReturn to Top

Preferred Citation

Women in the Commercial Fising Industry Reseach Collection, Center for Pacific Northwest Studies, Western Libraries Archives & Special Collections, Western Washington University, Bellingham WA 98225-9123.

Administrative InformationReturn to Top


Women in the Commercial Fishing Industry Research Collection is arranged in accordance with the following series arrangement:

  • Series I: Research Material, 1902-1995
  • Series II: Oral History Interviews, 1993

Processing Note

About Harmful Language and Content

To learn more about problematic content in our collections, collection description and teaching tools (including how to provide feedback or request dialogue on this topic), see the following Statement About Potentially Harmful Language and Content

Related Materials

Related material includes the Women's Maritime Association records, housed at the Center for Pacific Northwest Studies.

Separated Materials

One interview was removed at the request of the interviewee.

Detailed Description of the CollectionReturn to Top

The following section contains a detailed listing of the materials in the collection.

Series I:  Research Material, 1902-1995 Return to Top

Container(s) Description Dates
Senior Thesis Western Washington University: “Permission to Come Aboard? Right to Come Aboard? Women in the Pacific Northwest Fishing Fleet, 1945-1993.” Carole Teshima Morris, Winter 1994.
Women in Northwest Commercial Fishing Presentation
Archival and Museum Fishing Resources Materials
Bibliographic Material Concerning Women in Fishing
General Fishing Resources
Fishing Statistics
Fishing Legal Material
Fishing Newspaper Clippings – Work
Fishing Newspaper Clippings – Abuse
Fishing Journal, Magazine, and Newspaper Articles
Fishing Journal, Magazine, and Newspaper Articles
The Fisherman, 50th Anniversary
1987 July
Thirteenth Annual Report of the State Fish Commissioner to the Governor of the State of Washington
Fishing Potential Women Interviewees

Series II:  Oral History Interviews, 1993Return to Top

Container(s) Description Dates
Maritime Surveys
Fishing Letters/Interview Release Information
Dennis, Lyn
Abstract: Lynn Dennis recounts her experience as a female fisherman in the Pacific Northwest, where she fished for both sockeye salmon and crab. Ms. Dennis explains that she first fished the Nooksack River in a 12-foot boat, gradually working her way up to a 21-foot gill-netter (The Humdinger) operating out of Point Roberts. She describes the tribal fisheries system (in which enrolled tribal members can receive treaty licenses for commercial fishing), differences between fishing on rivers and fishing in salt water, and selection of crew members. She describes the realities of commercial fishing, fishing in inclement weather, and lessons learned from those experiences. She discusses discrimination in fishing and ways to overcome that adversity, and the economic and political climate of the commercial fishing industry in the 1990s, including some ramifications of the US-Canada Treaty on tribal fishing operations.
1993 February 11
Jez, Katrina
Abstract: Katrina Jez describes her work in fishing, primarily in Southeast Alaska, and explains a typical season on a purse-seine boat. She discusses crew turnover, salaries and her specific duties onboard the boat. She reflects on the growing numbers of women working on purse-seiners, and the good living provided by commercial fishing. She describes some of the dangers accompanying the job, changes in the industry relating to boats, regulations, and resources, and the strong sense of community in the fishing industry. She describes the process of purse-seining and the joys and demands of the job. Ms. Jez discusses fisheries management issues such as dwindling fish populations in Puget Sound and efforts to restock Southeast Alaska fisheries. She mentions the politics of fishing, the impact of Asian driftnet fishing, and describes an increasing consciousness about the environment and pollution problems from within the fishing community. She reflects on the potential challenges affecting women and other individuals involved in commercial fishing.
Mosness, Anne
Abstract: Anne Mosness recounts how she started fishing as a child with her father (a commercial fisherman) then later joined him to fish in Bristol Bay, Alaska, eventually buying a boat and joining a multi-generational family of fishers. She talks about working during pregnancy and motherhood, safety inspections and having her boat boarded by the Coast Guard. Other topics include the responsibilities of working on and running a boat, working conditions, and handling dangerous situations like poor weather, rough seas, problems with the boat, and running the boat alone. Anne Mosness reflects on what appealed to her about fishing, particularly how it tested her limits, and notes the strengths that women can bring to fishing work. The interview includes descriptions of preparing for a fishing season, relationships between canneries and fishermen/women, labor issues and pricing, reflections on the nature of community among fisheries workers and inter-personnel dynamics on a boat. The second part of the interview focuses on Mosness’s work with the Women’s Maritime Association (WMA). She describes the WMA as the only support network in the country, possibly the world, for women who are employed on marine vessels. It was founded in response to the problems of sexual discrimination and harassment at sea, as well as to provide connections between women in maritime work and to educate about these opportunities. Topics discussed include: the different backgrounds of WMA members, how to juggle a home life with seagoing work, the Women Underway Symposium (re: mentorship) and the Sea Grant educational arm of the industry. Anne Mosness describes WMA’s primary focus as being on prevention of sexual harassment and assault at sea (including hazing). She also discusses challenges of reporting problems and getting involved in labor unions. She describes WMA’s work with Congress and maritime leadership to pass laws including the Sexual Abuse Act of 1986, and argues for the role of the Coast Guard and the licensing and documentation process to publicize existing laws.
1993 April 20
Walker, Kim
Abstract: Kim Walker recalls her introduction to fishing as a nineteen-year old in Bristol Bay, Alaska. Her first job was as a cook on the Unimak, a power scow tender and crabber. She describes experiences when she began work as a deckhand, and explains the various job descriptions on a processing boat (approx. 130-140 feet). She discussed the dangers of fishing, especially during inclement weather, and reflects on wages, family dynamics, licensing, and the experiences of women in the industry.
1993 February 25

Names and SubjectsReturn to Top

Subject Terms

  • Fisheries -- Alaska -- History -- Sources
  • Fisheries -- Washington(State) -- History -- Sources
  • Sex discrimination against women -- Alaska -- History -- Sources
  • Sex discrimination against women -- Washington (State) -- History -- Sources
  • Sex discrimination in employment -- Alaska -- History -- Sources
  • Sex discrimination in employment -- Washington (State) -- History -- Sources
  • Sexual harassment -- Washington(State) -- History -- Sources
  • Women fish trade workers -- Alaska -- History -- Sources
  • Women fish trade workers -- Washington(State) -- History -- Sources
  • Women fishers -- Alaska -- History -- Sources
  • Women fishers -- Washington(State) -- History -- Sources

Personal Names

  • Morris, Carole Teshima (creator)

Form or Genre Terms

  • Oral histories
  • Records (Documents)