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

Born in Ink – the Plans for the SS United States

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These four volumes used to be one book.

Hello again, gentle readers. Welcome back to the Library blog – today, I would like to tell you about a unique volume from the Library’s Rare Book collection that has piqued my interest. I refer to the double-volume schematics and design specifications for the SS United States, a work that is only available at The Mariners’ Museum Library. The first volume of the plan is split into four smaller volumes, because the original work was so incredibly thick that using it was very unwieldy.

All four sub-sections of the first volume deal with the plans, schematics, projected costs, and potential profits of the SS United States. The vessel, often referred to by the number 12201, is compared heavily to the 1930s Cunarder RMS Queen Elizabeth in design, operating costs and potential speed. There is a lot of focus in the plans on the comparative speeds of the ships. In fact, it is often repeated that one of the primary goals in building the SS United States is so that she will claim the record for Fastest Atlantic Crossing several times in a row. How would she do that, you may ask? Well, the plan was to slightly underpower the United States in order to beat the Queen Elizabeth’s speed by a small amount. That way, if the British ever reclaimed the record, the United States could then repeatedly take it back and earn a healthy dose of prestige for her parent company, the United States Lines.   Read more