Women Set Sail: A Night of Discovery at the Archeology Museum

By: Rachel Gonzalez | Contributing Writer

The University of South Alabama’s Archeology Museum had a full house on Thursday, Sept. 26. It was not just an average night at the museum; the audience was in for a thought-provoking lecture as Dr. Amy Mitchell-Cook from the University of West Florida gave an intriguing presentation on the women of the sea during the 18th and 19th centuries. 

Dr. Mitchell-Cook described the bold and brave women pirates, sailors, and wives who set sail during a time when men dominated the seas. Contrary to popular belief, women actually ventured across the seven seas and were not just stay at home wives maintaining a household while their husbands were out fighting wars. 

The most shocking discovery that Dr. Mitchell-Cook made during her years of study was the large number of women that actually made it out to sea. 

“They were sailors, pirates, and captains, and were doing all sorts of things you never hear about,” she said. 

Her interest in maritime studies goes back to her days in Yorktown, Virginia, where she studied the wreckage of one of revolutionary war General Cornwallis’s ships called the Betsy.

Dr. Mitchell-Cook described her time as a maritime archaeologist as fun, crazy, and competitive. She plans on giving her presentation to other museums, schools, and historical societies in the future. Her ultimate goal is to intrigue and inspire others by unburying the truth about the sea-faring women who made their mark on the past.