Digest>Archives> Jul/Aug 2011

Book Review - Ladies of the Light

Michigan Women in the U.S. Lighthouse Service

By Timothy Harrison


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Unless you’ve been there to see it in person, most people can not comprehend the vastness of the Great Lakes and Michigan’s impressive two-peninsula coastline with its rugged outlying islands. In fact, the Great Lakes, which many people say should be considered an ocean, brought Michigan the distinction of having more lighthouses that any other state. This in itself is amazing, considering that other lighthouse states all border the Pacific or Atlantic Ocean.

It was in Michigan where fifty-two women excelled in the job of lighthouse keeper, a position that was primarily thought of as a man’s job. While this might not be news to those who study lighthouses, it is something that the general public, for the most part, is unaware of.

However, in the book, Ladies of the Lights, author Patricia Majher has preserved the heritage, with numerous photographs, to provide the reader with a human portrait of these women who kept the lights burning, often at great personal sacrifice, to protect those traversing the enormous waters off the coast of Michigan.

While it is true that many of these women secured the job as lighthouse keeper after the deaths of their husbands, they did, however, often excel in their jobs, perhaps even more so than many of their male counterparts.

While some of these women lived at lighthouses with a friendly environment, many more were in remote and harsh locations where life was extremely difficult and hard for us to imagine in this day and age.

This book should be required reading for everyone in order to help them better understand the role that women took in the development of the United States in the Great Lake State of Michigan.

This 120-page soft cover book is available for $19.95 from FogHorn Publishing, P.O. Box 250, East Machias, ME 04630 or at www.FogHornPublishing.com. You can also call 207-259-2121.

This story appeared in the Jul/Aug 2011 edition of Lighthouse Digest Magazine. The print edition contains more stories than our internet edition, and each story generally contains more photographs - often many more - in the print edition. For subscription information about the print edition, click here.

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