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Mariners' Museum: 'Women's history is everyone's history' from the Civil War to World War II

The Mariners' Museum in Newport News is putting the spotlight on women who made an impact when our country was at war.

NEWPORT NEWS, Va. — Hampton Roads is rich in notable moments and people. It's no different when it comes to Women's History Month.

The Mariners' Museum has put a spotlight on some of the women who made an impact during World War II and the Civil War.

“Women’s history is everyone’s history," said Mariners' Museum and Park Manager of Visitor Engagement Lauren Furey. 

Furey is making sure women’s history is not forgotten.

“It’s so important to highlight the information and the things that people did that have been neglected for so long," said Furey. 

During World War II, Newport News resident Ruth Hooker was one of 50 women who worked on military vehicles to be shipped overseas from the Hampton Roads Port of Embarkation.

“All of a sudden women are coming into the workforce in full action. Everything that the men were doing: construction, welding, engineering work, all those kinds of things," said Furey. 

Furey explained Lydia Weld was one of the first women to get an engineering degree.

“She actually graduated from MIT in 1903," said Furey. 

Weld went to work on naval ships at the Newport News Naval Shipyard.

“She also ended up producing the plans for machinery to be installed in Naval ships. I mean, this is a long time ago. I would love to know her. I would love to have lunch with this lady," Furey said.

Furey has also researched Norfolk native Mary Louvestre.

Louvestre got the plans of a Confederate ship to Union leaders and changed the course of the Civil War with that information.

“This is right before the Battle of Hampton Roads. The plans were important because they showed the number of cannons that were on the ship. So, she got these plans to [U.S. Secretary of the Navy] Gideon Welles, which helped boost up the time period of the USS Monitor being completed," said Furey. 

The Mariners’ Museum is not open to the public due to COVID-19 restrictions. But they are posting stories online about how women continue to make positive changes around the world.

The Mariners’ Museum is hosting “Maritime Mondays,” a virtual book reading for children that is now focused on Women’s History Month. The series is being broadcasted in four different countries.

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