Ida Lewis: Mother of all Keepers

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(Accession Number 2019.0004.000001) -Harper’s Weekly, April 17, 1869. Illustration of Ida Lewis rescuing two drowning soldiers.

Ida Lewis: Mother of All Keepers

Here at The Mariners’ Museum and Park, Ida Lewis is no stranger. We’ve blogged, Tweeted, written, and lectured all about our heroine of Lime Rock Light. However, our mission here at the Museum is all about Maritime Connections because we’re all connected by the water. That’s why I chose Ida Lewis. Her acts of heroism are still inspiring women of all ages and created legacies that now bear her name. Out of these legacies have come a personal maritime connection and a story of another young woman with a link to Ida’s legacy. I want to take Ida’s story one step further than all the reasons she had the reputation of being able to “row a boat faster than any man in Newport.”  As you can probably tell, I’m excited to share these stories with you just in time for Women’s History Month.

Mother’s Keeper

First, I’d be doing you and Ida herself a disservice if I didn’t give you a little background on our brave lightkeeper. Idawalley Zorada (sometimes spelled “Zoradia”) Lewis, the second oldest of four children and eldest daughter of Captain Hosea Lewis. Capt. Lewis became keeper of Lime Rock Light at Newport, Rhode Island, in 1854 when Ida was 12-years-old.   Read more

Girl Power–1918 Style

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Girl filing in plant. U.S. Naval Aircraft factory, Navy Yard, Phila., 1918. Mariners’ Museum Collection #P0005—U-PA0087

When the United States Navy’s Naval Aircraft Factory in Philadelphia needed to ramp up their labor force in early 1918, it began to train and employ women. According to William F. Trimble, author of Wings for the Navy: A History of the Naval Aircraft Factory, 1917-1956, the factory’s first female factory worker was Marion Elderton, already on staff as a secretary. That transition happened in December of 1917, and by June of 1918, the labor force included 218 women. One year later (Dec.1918), NAF female employment reached 890, which was 24.5% of the work force.

Yes-they were referred to as girls

Not to put too fine a point on it, I suspect that the writer of the captions on these photographs was male, perhaps referencing the novelty of the subject. Trimble’s use of female and women is fitting for 1990, the time of his publication. Not so in 1918, when women were still fighting for the right to vote.   Read more