One of Washington State’s first female pharmacists, Shirley was born in Seattle’s Swedish Hospital in 1922. She practiced pharmacology until she retired at age 66, and with her husband, Herb, raised two children. A pioneer on many fronts, Shirley was one of the first Jewish women to become a member of the Women’s University Club. A passionate and indefatigable supporter of women’s and health issues, Shirley survived five primary cancers and was a no-nonsense pragmatist venerated for getting things done. Shirley passed away in May 2008.
In the first session, Shirley talks about her family background, how her parents settled in Seattle, and memories from her childhood living in the Capitol Hill section of the city. She remembers living through the Great Depression and the impact it had on her immediate family and relatives. Shirley's family moved to Portland, Oregon, where they attended Temple Beth Israel before moving back to Seattle and joining Temple de Hirsch. Growing up, Shirley attended Hebrew school and graduated from Broadway High school. She chronicles her involvement in the Washington Athletic Club, the Women's University Club, and Rotary. In 1940, Shirley started at the University of Washington, where she studied chemistry with a focus on pharmacology, a field that rapidly changed throughout her career. Shirley details her cancer diagnoses, prognoses, and recoveries.
In the second session, Shirley describes meeting her husband Herb, getting married (taking "obey" out of the vows), and being talked into having kids. She reflects on raising a family while staying active in the community and with professional organizations. Shirley also talks about attending Temple and the Jewish holidays her family celebrated. She remembers creating the Women’s Endowment Foundation of the Jewish Federation of Greater Seattle and the Seattle Women’s Commission in the 1970s, serving as its second president. Much of the interview focuses on Shirley's social activism, community involvement, and philanthropy. Shirley describes the intersection of her pharmacy career and women's rights and reproductive freedom. Finally, Shirley reflects on her 50-year battle with cancer, surviving five different cancers and numerous surgeries and treatments.
How to cite this page
Oral History of Shirley Bridge. Interviewed by Pamela Lavitt Brown. 27 June 2001, 8 August 2001. Jewish Women's Archive. (Viewed on November 29, 2023) <https://jwa.org/oralhistories/bridge-shirley>.
Oral History of Shirley Bridge by the Jewish Women's Archive is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 3.0 United States License. Permissions beyond the scope of this license may be available at https://jwa.org/contact/OralHistory.