March is Women’s History Month, a time that we set aside to celebrate women’s contributions and achievements in all spheres of society.
There are so many amazing women we would love to acknowledge that the list is simply too long to count, so we decided to recognize a few special ones through the lens of our themed rooms. Accordingly, we wish to honor some extraordinary women who have left their mark throughout history and offer you a different type of list that you may not find anywhere else. These women come from very different walks of life, and some even found themselves on the wrong side of the law, but their incredible feats remain worthy of awe to this very day.
In our Zombie Lab, you need to find a cure to stop an army of the undead. This inspired us to recognize Elisabeth Kübler-Ross, an American-Swiss psychiatrist and one of the pioneers of near-death studies. She was named as one of the “100 Most Important Thinkers” of the 20th century, received nineteen honorary degrees, and has been inducted into the American National Women’s Hall of Fame. She is most well known for her book “On Death and Dying”, where she defined the Five Stages of Grief that people experience when facing their imminent death. To this day, understanding of the Five Stages of Grief helps individuals cope with any form of personal loss and leads them down the road to healing. Elisabeth Kübler-Ross has spent her career working with the terminally ill and has had a great impact on our understanding of what she called the “greatest mystery in science” – death. Later on in her career, she became interested in out-of-body experiences, as well as mediums and other ways that we could contact the dead. Well, we have some undead for you, and you’re going to need all of Elisabeth’s wisdom to make it out alive!
In Tesla’s Mystery, you are tasked with uncovering the last invention of the late Nikola Tesla. It didn’t take us long to find the woman who can stand shoulder to shoulder with the genius inventor. It had to be Marie Curie! She was a Polish physicist and chemist who conducted pioneering research in the field of radioactivity. She was the first woman to win a Nobel Prize, the first person and the only woman to win the prize twice, as well as the only person in history to win a Nobel Prize in two different fields of science. Now that’s pretty amazing! She became the first woman professor at the University of Paris and the first woman whose ashes were enshrined in the Paris Pantheon. Marie Curie developed the theory of radioactivity, a term that she coined herself, and discovered two new elements of the periodic table, polonium and radium. She is responsible for the development of portable X-ray machines that were used in field hospitals in World War I, which saved countless lives and became known as the “Little Curies”. Marie Curie also founded the Curie Institutes in Warsaw and in Paris, which remain major medical research centers to this very day. Marie Curie has made many scientific breakthroughs that benefit humanity to this very day. Come see if you can add one more to the list by finding Tesla’s final invention!
Our Prison Break room inspired us to recognize Deborah Gavin, a young woman with a troubled childhood who found herself in the wrong place at the wrong time back in 1972. After a night of partying, she got into a car with a couple of young men whom she had met that night, little to know they would commit an armed robbery of a local gas station with her still in the car. Following a wild police chase, they were all arrested, and Deborah was convicted as an accomplice and sent to a women’s prison in Georgia. To make matters worse, she became a victim of continuous sexual abuse at the hands of the male prison guards, as did many other inmates at that prison. This drove her to escape the prison an incredible six times! Five times she was captured, but on the sixth escape, she disappeared without a trace. U.S. Marshals finally found her 33 years later, living a quiet life in a small town in Texas as a loving wife and a dedicated nurse at a local hospital. Deborah Gavin’s case along with hundreds of other similar cases across the US has led to prison reform and the adoption of new laws protecting inmates from sexual abuse. Can you be skillful and elusive enough like Deborah to reach freedom?
Our Bank Job room made us think of Olivera Ćirković, a former professional basketball player from Serbia who played for the Yugoslavian women’s basketball team that won a bronze medal at the European Championship for Junior Women in 1988. She later worked as a sports director for the Red Star basketball club, but this is not actually what she is most known for. She was, in fact, one of the masterminds behind the notorious international jewel-thief gang called the Pink Panthers! According to Interpol and various law enforcement agencies, the Pink Panthers are responsible for thefts of over $500 million in diamonds, gold and precious jewels in 35 countries across the globe, in some of the most spectacular heists worthy of Hollywood movies. She is believed to have been involved in over 350 robberies, although she personally operated only in Greece where she was first arrested in 2006. After her second arrest in 2012, she made a spectacular escape from prison but was apprehended again 4 months later. She spent a total of 8 years behind bars, and after her release, she published her memoirs detailing the extravagance of her life in crime. Do you have the skills to get your hands on some diamonds that even Olivera would be impressed with?!
Our Wild West / Golden Nugget Saloon room reminded us of none other than Annie Oakley, an American markswoman and the most famous sharpshooter in Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show where she gained the nickname “Little Sure Shot”. She performed amazing feats of marksmanship that included shooting coins thrown into the air, splitting playing cards edge-on, shooting out burning candles, and even shooting cigarettes out of her husband’s mouth! Throughout her career, she performed for royalty including Queen Victoria, King Umberto I of Italy and many other heads of state, and she was the inspiration for the image of the American cowgirl proving that women were just as capable as men, even in handling a rifle. But Annie Oakley was much more than just a performer. She was passionate about empowering women and also donated great amounts of her fortune to charitable organizations for orphans. She is believed to have taught over 15,000 women how to use firearms to protect themselves and their families in the vastness of the Wild West and even encouraged them to enlist in the military. She is remembered for one of her more famous quotes: “I would like to see every woman know how to handle guns as naturally as they know how to handle babies.” Let’s see if you can handle the crooked sheriff in the small town of Tombstone!
Our Coming Home game features an adorable little robot called Gregg who we like to consider as a predecessor of today’s computers. It inspired us to honor Grace Hopper, an American computer scientist and one of the first programmers of the Harvard Mark I computer. She is responsible for popularizing machine-independent programming languages and led a team that developed the first computer language compiler that rendered worded English instructions into computer code. In 1934, she became the first woman to earn a PhD in Mathematics from Yale University. During World War II, she became a member of the Navy Reserve, and in 1967 the Navy called her to join active duty. Grace Hopper also worked as an expert and consultant for several private corporations and helped develop the UNIVAC I, the first known large-scale electronic computer on the market in 1950. She served as the director of the Navy Programming Languages Group in the Navy’s Office of Information Systems Planning. Moving swiftly up the ranks of the United States Navy, she ended her career as a Rear Admiral. Grace Hopper was awarded 40 honorary degrees from various universities across the world throughout her career, and even a US Navy battleship was named after her, the USS Hopper. Can you be like Grace and breathe life back into our little Gregg?
Our Final Exam game inspired us to pay tribute to Elena Lucrezia Corner, a Venetian philosopher who way back in 1678 became the first woman in history to receive an academic degree from a university. Her mother was a peasant, but her father was a member of one of the most powerful noble dynasties of the Republic of Venice which gave her access to distinguished tutors and instructors. Even as a young girl she displayed prodigal academic tendencies which led her family to enroll her in classical education. She became proficient in Latin, Greek, French and Spanish at a very early age. She later also mastered Hebrew and Arabic, earning her the title of the “Seven-Language Oracle”. Her later studies included mathematics, philosophy, astronomy, music and theology, making her a true polymath. As the fame of her intellectual accomplishments spread across the Venetian Republic, she was invited to join several scholarly societies and in 1670 she became president of the Academy of the Peaceful. In 1678, she also became the first woman in history to receive a Doctor of Philosophy degree, which she defended at the Padua Cathedral in front of the University of Padua authorities, professors, Venetian Senators, as well as other prestigious academic guests. Remarkably, Elena was also an expert musician who played the harp, violin, as well as the harpsichord, a predecessor of today’s piano. Elena passed all of her exams with flying colors, but you will have a different kind of test in our Final Exam. Can you guess what it will be?
In our Zodiac room, you must escape from the clutches of a serial killer. It inspired us to celebrate Stacy Galbraith and Edna Hendershot, two amazing detectives who captured a serial rapist who was terrorizing women in Colorado and Washington. Det. Galbraith was investigating the case of a young woman in Golden, Colorado who was assaulted and raped by a man who broke into her apartment while she was sleeping, took photos of her during the gruesome attack, and forced her to take a shower before he left. The case seemed very similar to the case of a young woman in Lynnwood, Washington who went to the police with the same story but was accused of lying and convicted of filing a false report. That’s when Det. Galbraith decided to get in contact with Det. Edna Hendershot of nearby Westminster, Colorado, because she learned that she was working on a few similar cases. They soon realized that all the cases involved the same mode of operation by the perpetrator and that they were dealing with a serial rapist, and ended up connecting the case with victims in four other cities. Ultimately, with the help of over 100 officers from 6 different agencies, they managed to track down and arrest army veteran Marc O’Leary who confessed to committing all of the horrendous rapes. Can you be as cunning as our brilliant detectives and escape from the Zodiac?
Our Bunker has inspired us to honor Flora Sandes, a brave Irish woman who became an officer of the Royal Serbian Army and the only woman from Great Britain to fight on the front lines in World War I. She initially joined a St. John Ambulance unit and in 1914 left England to provide aid in the humanitarian crises that were happening on the territory of Serbia. After nearly a year of nursing wounded Serbian soldiers who were fighting against the Austro-Hungarian offensive, she joined the Serbian Red Cross and began working in an ambulance for a Serbian Infantry Regiment on the front line. Growing up in rural Suffolk, Flora was a feisty young woman with a tomboy spirit who learned to ride horses and shoot guns at a very early age. So, when the fighting became fierce, she decided to put those skills to use and enlisted in the Serbian Army, which at the time was among few that had allowed women into their ranks. In 1916, during the Serbian advance on Monastir, she was engaged in hand to hand combat and severely wounded by an enemy grenade, but she survived. Flora was a formidable soldier whose courage did not go unnoticed and she retired with the rank of Captain and was awarded Serbia’s highest military decoration, the Order of the Karadjordje Star. She got married after the war and lived happily in France and in Yugoslavia for many years, and she even has a street named after her in Belgrade. Can you be as courageous as Flora and save the world in our Bunker?
Ah, Dracula: The Final Hour. What woman could have possibly been as bloodthirsty as the Count himself, you ask? Elizabeth Báthory, that’s who! Elisabeth was born in 1560 into a noble Hungarian family, but she grew up to become one of the most notorious serial killers of all time. Even the Guinness Book of World Records has pronounced her as the most vicious female murderer in all of recorded history! With the help of four of her most faithful servants, Elisabeth had tortured and killed over 650 young women between 1590 and 1609. Some of the girls were servants at her castle, some were local peasants, and some even the daughters of the local gentry who had sent them to her royal court to teach them proper etiquette! Her vampiric tendencies quickly became the stuff of folklore as she was said to drink the blood of young girls in order to preserve her youthfulness and appearance. Witnesses have testified to brutal torture of her victims, horrendous torture that we would rather not go into details with! She was finally arrested in December of 1609, along with her accomplices. Her accomplices were executed, and she was confined to spend the rest of her life locked away in the chambers of her castle. Now that we have sent some chills down your spine, come see if you make it out of Dracula’s chambers with all your blood still in your body!
In Mr. Fox’s Secret Study / Library, you must prove your wits and skills to become a secret agent. This inspired us to acknowledge Alaska Packard Davidson, the first-ever woman to become an FBI special agent. In 1922, at the age of 54, Alaska was hired by then-director William J. Burns to work as a special investigator at the Bureau. She received her training in New York City and was assigned to work at the field office in Washington D.C. At the time, the Bureau decided to hire female agents to work on cases that had to do with the Mann Act, a law passed in 1910 which made it a federal crime to traffic women across interstate lines and was most commonly used to prosecute men who were engaging in sexual activities with underage girls. Unfortunately, after the Teapot Dome scandal broke out in 1924 involving corruption and bribery of high government officials, the newly appointed acting director J. Edgar Hoover swore to clean out the Bureau and remove all unqualified agents. Since Alaska had no formal education and was deemed “too refined” by her superior officers to work on horrendous sex trafficking cases, she was forced to resign after serving less than two years as a special agent. Nevertheless, Alaska Packard Davidson broke the ice for all the women of today who are proud to wear the badge of the Federal Bureau of Investigations. Do you have what it takes to become one of Mr. Fox’s secret agents?
In our room The Other Side, a tormented soul obsessed with the occult has opened a portal into a dark dimension, threatening our very existence. It inspired us to recognize Helena Petrovna Blavatsky, a Russian spiritualist, occult philosopher, and writer who is most well known as the co-founder of the Theosophical Society. She became internationally recognized as the leading theoretician of Theosophy, an esoteric philosophical religion which became one of the foundations of today’s New Age movement. Helena spent several years in India and Tibet studying under Hindu and Buddhist gurus and was one of the key figures who brought the spiritual wisdom of the East to the modern West. In 1878, Helena became the first Russian woman to receive American citizenship. She wrote many books on complex and abstract concepts including Isis Unveiled, The Secret Doctrine, The Key to Theosophy and The Voice of Silence. Helena was a controversial figure during her lifetime, celebrated as an enlightened guru and clairvoyant by her followers, yet met with great opposition from others who accused her of being a charlatan and a fraud. Nevertheless, Blavatsky’s work has served as an inspiration to many famous authors such as Lewis Carroll and H.P. Lovecraft. Can you dive deep enough into the occult to save our world and come back from The Other Side?
There are so many other women who could be added to this list who have had a tremendous impact throughout history, but let’s not forget about all the ordinary women who continue to give their contributions to the world every single day. They also deserve our recognition, as well as our respect. Women’s History Month is here to remind us that we must always strive to create a world that values all individuals, a world that offers recognition, justice and equality of opportunity for all.