Ruth Herring driving National Outboard Race at Century of Progress Exposition in Chicago, Ill. October 7, 1933. Don Flowers Class A Outboard # T30 Mystic Seaport Museum, Rosenfeld Collection, 1984.187.66031F

Join us this March in celebrating women and the vital role they played in our maritime history. Explore our events, both virtual and in person, our collections, exclusive video content, learn about female inventors, browse our collection of the women in Rosenfeld, and more!

Photo Gallery

See more like this, check out the On Land & Sea Exhibit pictures from our Rosenfeld Collection!

Events Calendar


Charles W. Morgan Talks

All month long, visitors can step aboard the Charles W. Morgan and learn about women and the whaling industry. From the early days of Nantucket whaling when they managed homes, businesses, investments and family matters while men were away, to the intrepid women who sailed with their husbands on three to five year voyages across the globe, women played a vital role in the New England whale industry from its earliest times. Join our staff and learn some of their stories.

Patents and Progress: Women Inventors

Of the 405,128 U.S. patents awarded between 1790-1888 only 2,297 of them were to women.  From laws regarding marriage and a woman’s right to own property, to less access to quality education, there were many obstacles for women inventors. Come learn about some of their struggles, their triumphs, and their inventions during this talk, presented every day in March at 10:15 in Stone’s Store. 

Women Space PioneersAARP Webinar Wednesday: Women Space Pioneers
Wednesday, March 2, 2022
1-2 p.m. EST (Virtual)

Did you know that an American woman almost became the first woman astronaut in 1962? Or that a woman working as a scientist at Harvard created the way astronomers still classify stars today? Women may not have been to the moon (yet!), but they have made some amazing space science contributions and discoveries. This program will highlight the trailblazing accomplishments of familiar names like Maria Mitchell and Sally Ride, as well as lesser known ones like Annie Jump Cannon and Peggy Whitson.

This event is free for Members. Click here to register.

Team Sail Like  Girl: True Grit – Winning the Race to Alaska
Thursday, March 17 | 7 PM EST (Virtual)

Team members Jeanne Goussev and Aimee Fulwell share the trials and triumph of their 2018 victory at the Race to Alaska, North America’s longest human and wind powered race. This 750-mile test of endurance and skill on open water and through the inside passage of Alaska has been described as the maritime version of the Iditarod. The Sail Like a Girl crew persevered to become the first all-women crew to compete and win the race, and the first crew ever to win the race on a single hull. This is a virtual presentation.

Click here to register.

Just for Members!

Membership Women’s History Month Reciprocal — March 1 to 20, 2022

Mystic Seaport Museum Members are invited to visit Lyman Allyn Art Museum for free to explore their new show “Unbeatable Women: Power and Innovation in the Work of Women Photographers”

  • Show your Mystic Seaport Museum Membership card at the Lyman Allyn Art Museum admissions desk to enjoy free admission
  • Visit www.lymanallyn.org for directions and to confirm open days and hours
  • Note that guests of Mystic Seaport Museum Members who normally visit for free with a PLUS Membership will be required to pay admission
  • A valid Membership card and photo ID are required
  • Benefit applies for admission only

Women Inventors

Photo: US Patent & Trademark Office

Margaret Knight and the Paper Bag

Margaret Knight was born in York, ME on February 14, 1838.  She is reputed to have had 20-22 patents and about 89 inventions.  In an 1872 Women’s Journal interview she said:

As a child, I never cared for things that girls usually do; dolls never possessed any charms for me…I wanted a jack-knife, a gimlet, and pieces of wood. I sighed because I was not like the other girls but wisely concluded that I couldn’t help it and sought consolation from my tools.  I was making things for my brothers…I was famous for my kites: and my sleds were the envy and admiration of all the boys in town.

She was working at the Columbia Paper Bag Company in 1867 when she created a machine that could cut, fold and paste bag bottoms itself.  When her model proved successful she had an iron version produced in 1868. While the machine was in Boston to be refined an inventor of dubious morality, Charles F. Annan, viewed it.  In 1871 Margaret was shocked to learn that Annan had been granted the patent for her machine, so she took him to court. Annan’s lawyer argued that an uneducated, self-taught woman could never have built such a sophisticated machine. Margaret had kept detailed drawings, paper patterns and diary entries about her invention, won the case and was awarded the patent.

Nancy Johnson

Nancy Johnson and the Ice Cream Maker

In 1843 Nancy Johnson filed for the first patent for the first hand-cranked ice cream churn.  At the time ice cream making was labor intensive and could take an individual several hours to make.  The hand-cranked churn made it possible for more people to make quality ice cream, and more of it, so it was available to more people. 

Susan Hibbard

Susan Hibbard and the Feather Duster

Susan Hibbard invented the turkey feather duster in 1874, and her husband tried to patent it.  She took her case to patent court, claiming the patent should be issued to her.  On May 30, 1876 Patent number 177,939- Improvement in feather dusters- was awarded to Susan Hibbard.

From the Collections

Ratty and Mole

One of our favorite models in the collection is this detailed and whimsical model of Ratty and Mole from The Wind in the Willows.  Made by female model maker Louis Darling in the late 1980’s, the model was inspired by professional boat-building plans of a Thames River Single skiff, reminiscent of the rowboat The Wind in the Willows author Kenneth Grahame probably “messed around in” himself as a young boy. Ratty’s boat is the last model Ms. Darling ever made. Ill with leukemia while creating her beloved model, she expressed deep gratitude in being able to finish the project in a 1989 interview for The Hartford Courant.  “I’m on borrowed time,” she is quoted.  “This is my last labor of love.”

Meet the Earles

Based solely on the family photograph of Captain James A.M. Earle, Mrs. Honor Earle, and their son Jamie taken in 1903 on the deck of the Charles W. Morgan, one would assume that life at sea was miserable.  Jamie and other whaling families experienced a life that one could only imagine.   

The Earle family made numerous voyages on the Charles W. Morgan — James on his own between 1890 and 1895, and then as a family from 1895 to 1906. All the while, Mrs. Earle worked to set up their new “home” on the Morgan the best she could.

Read more about the Earles and the story behind this photo here.

Image: Wikimedia Commons

Frances Payne Bolton

In researching the Witherill Collection, a collection of documents and objects relating to the grand ocean liners of the 20th century, Michelle Turner, IMLS Cataloging Supervisor at the Museum shares her findings and gives us a deeper look into the life of Frances Bolton (pictured here).

Frances Payne Bolton was Ohio’s first Congresswoman and one of just a handful of women in the House of Representatives. Born in Cleveland, Ohio, she was an heiress to the Standard Oil fortune, making her one of the richest women in America.

In the fall of 1947, as chair of a subcommittee studying the situation in the Near East, she made history, becoming the first woman ever to lead a Congressional delegation. 

Read the full blog here


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