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Material relating to champion scullers Gertie and Kitty Lewis

Date: 1906 - 1912
Display Dimensions: 203110 x 12613 mm
Medium: Paper
Credit Line: ANMM Collection Gift from Richard Lewis
Object Name: Archive series
Object No: ANMS0822

User Terms

    This archive series numbered [001] - [033] consists of material relating to the champion sculling careers of Sydney sisters Gertrude 'Gertie' and Kathleen 'Kitty' Lewis. It includes 16 newspaper clippings relating to the Lewis sisters and rowing events; three issues of Fairplay magazines; three rowing programs; four notes; five personal letters; a drawing of Kitty and a photograph of Gertie.
    SignificanceThis material relates to Gertrude 'Gertie' Lewis (1887 - 1953) and her sister Kathleen 'Kitty' Lewis (1889 - 1945), who were both professional Sydney sculling champions in the early 1900s.
    HistoryThe fledgling colony of New South Wales produced the best professional scullers in the world in the late 19th century. Seven men were world champions several times over between 1876 and 1890. With an international appeal rivalled only by boxers, these Champion Scullers of the World were wildly popular with an Australian public addicted to betting and sport. On Saturday afternoons huge crowds lined the banks of Sydney's Parramatta River to watch the sculling contests. Wealthy publicans put up big cash prizes for the champions and heavy gambling was encouraged. But with rumours of race-rigging, the adoring public became disillusioned with the sport. The onset of the 1890s Depression also dampened their ardour. By the early 1910s the golden days of professional sculling were over.

    'Ladies' sculling races were added to regattas as novelty events in the early 1900s. While not as famous as their male counterparts, their race results were still reported with great drama in the sporting press. Gertrude 'Gertie' Lewis (1887 -1953) and her sister Kathleen 'Kitty' Lewis (1889-1945) were professional sculling champions on Sydney Harbour in the early 1900s. The sisters raced in both single and double sculls. Both girls also excelled at swimming and diving and were rivals of the great Annette Kellerman.

    After winning countless double sculling contests with her sister, Kitty Lewis' career was cut short in 1906 when she was badly injured when a rowlock pierced her thigh while racing. Gertie Lewis continued to compete and was Ladies Sculling Champion of Australia six times between 1906 and 1911. Like male scullers of the time, Gertie and Kitty chose their own distinctive racing colours - red cap to match their bright red hair, long navy skirt, white jumper with a red sash and black stockings and shoes.

    Additional Titles

    Web title: Material relating to champion scullers Gertie and Kitty Lewis

    Assigned title: Collection of documents, letters, programs and newspaper clippings relating to the sculling careers of Gertie and Kitty Lewis

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