This article is one of a series on lost women written by Erika Gottfried as part of an independent study project at the University of Washington in history and women's studies. The essay was first printed in the Seattle Post Intelligencer, August 1, 1976.
The Northwest's first architect, Mother Joseph, arrived in a wilderness that had almost none of the services and amenities available in the more settled parts of the United States. There were no hospitals, few schools and even fewer resources for the care of orphans, the aged, the destitute or the mentally ill when Mother Joseph arrived in Vancouver, Washington Territory, in December 1856. Over the next 46 years, Mother Joseph—who endured a three-month, six-thousand mile journey with four fellow Sisters of Charity from the motherhouse in Montreal—had a good deal to do with changing this situation.