History knows many examples of woman's service at sea and in the fleet. During the Great Northern Expedition of 1733-1743, a commander of one of the detachments was Lieutenant Vasilii Pronchishchev; his young wife Tatyana shipped out together with him, which was the first case of its kind in the history of the great Arctic expeditions. During the Russian-Swedish war of 1788-1790, on May 21, 1789, a small 24-gun cutter (brig) "Mercury" under the command of Captain lieutenant Roman Kroun, future Admiral of the Russian Navy, made a Swedish 44-gun frigate "Venus" hoist down the flag in a last-ditch battle. On that march, Kroun's wife Marfa was aboard the brig "Mercury"; she bandaged the wounded during the battle. Erminia Zhdanko was a ship doctor on the schooner "St. Anna" on which Georgy Brusilov set off for Vladivostok in 1912 along the northern coasts of Russia across the Bering Strait. During the months-long driftway of "St. Anna" in the Arctic, she not only looked after the sick, but also was engaged in catering and recorded weather reports for transfer to the Main Hydrographic Office.
Times and customs changed. The rights of women, including to professional self-determination, excited the minds of the enlightened public. In 1908, a Russian hydrographer, polar explorer Georgy Sedov published a brochure in St. Petersburg entitled "The Women's Right to the Sea", raising three topical questions: encouraging women in special maritime education on a par with men; admission of free stay on merchant ships; recognition of women's right to command merchant ships. The subsequent events in the history of Russia confirmed the women's right to the sea. Women have served and serve so far in the civilian marine and river fleet. One of them was Anna Shchetinina - the world's first woman - deep-sea master.
But waiting for fathers, husbands and sons who left for the sea is an equally heavy burden. The daughters, wives, mothers of seamen connected their lives with the fleet to no less extent than their relatives. Anastasia Shirinskaya-Manstein, a daughter of a naval officer, being a witness of evacuation of the Black Sea squadron ships from the Crimea during the Civil War, made a great contribution to the preservation of historical relics and the memory of the Russian squadron and its seamen.
Today, the women in the Navy are physicians, field radio operators, economists, cultural workers and lawyers. The list of "marine" specialties available to them is consistently extending, both at the civilian and military secondary-specialized and higher educational institutions.
The exhibition presents paintings, ship models and head figures, personal belongings, uniform models, photographs and documents, sculptures, awards, posters and leaflets. The Central Naval Museum expresses gratitude to the State Memorial Estate Pavlovsk for the sea uniform dress of Empress Catherine II, presented for the display, and for the rare book edition dedicated to Grand Duchess Olga Konstantinovna.
The exhibition will be open from March 7 to June 10, 2018
Curator of the exhibition: Research associate E.V. Ovsyannikova
Artistic design: Chief Artist of the Central Naval Museum V.Yu. Sergeev