I mentioned in the March blog that participating in the City Nature Challenge is simple. All you do is find wildlife, take a picture, and share it on the iNaturalist app.
The setting sun casts the last of its delicate golden rays over the Gloucester Inner Harbor, bringing an end to the day’s work. The harbor is filled with boats, but at low tide, many of them list lazily in the water or on shore as if they’ve been tucked up for the evening, the workers finishing their tasks, surely getting ready to head home after a long day. The sunset is rich and warm and the sky fades from the last bits of periwinkle blue to a cozy red dappled with gold.
Where to Begin?
When I first began working on this series, I met with Jeanne, our Director of Collections Management, to ask her if she might show me some of her favorite pieces from the collection. I knew that, although my journey into the collection was really just beginning, she had years of experience with it! As she pulled out rack after rack of paintings, I scribbled down accession numbers and while there were so many pieces that I knew I wanted to talk about, there was one that really stuck with me for a number of reasons.
As we come to the end of Women’s History month, it seems appropriate to write about the magical and mystical powers of women. This may not seem all that surprising – many of us can still remember the eyes that our mothers possessed in the backs of their heads, their incredible ability to know everything, and the special skill that mothers have to always make us feel better when we are sad, sick, or lonely. Even a woman’s ability to multi-task can seem quite magical – and this is only amplified by the current pandemic that has asked women to take on an even heavier burden. But for indigenous circumpolar people of the Arctic, “women’s magic” is actually key to their survival.
For most indigenous groups around the world, there are gender-based roles and skills, and these skills are taught by their elders in order to pass on their traditions from generation to generation. The same is true for the Inuit-Yupik of the arctic. There are numerous indigenous groups in the arctic, and to be completely correct, we would name them all by their specific linguistic group. However, it is generally accepted to call circumpolar indigenous people by the name Inuit-Yupik.
Women Accepted for Volunteer Emergency Service (WAVES) was the women’s branch of the Naval Reserves during World War II. The WAVES was created on July 30, 1942 when President Franklin Roosevelt signed the Navy’s Women’s Reserve Act into law. Similar to the Women’s Army Corps (WAC) the WAVES was enacted to allow women to take over certain jobs in the Navy and free up men for sea duty. WAVES were allowed to enlist and were then able to apply for officer’s candidate school. However, it was implied that at the close of WWII, the WAVES would be disbanded. Mildred H. McAfee served as the first director of the WAVES, beginning at Lt. Commander and was eventually promoted to Captain.
Women were first able to enlist in the Navy Reserves in World War I as Female Yoemen. This program began in 1917, and the women who joined enlisted for the same reason that women joined the WAVES in WWII; patriotism and a desire to help end the war earlier. Female Yeomen were disbanded in 1920, and nurses remained the only women in the navy until 1942, when the WAVES were created.
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.
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.