A Community Devoted to the Preservation and Practice of Celestial Navigation and Other Methods of Traditional Wayfinding
From: Doug Faunt
Date: 2020 May 23, 18:58 -0700
This is an octant I have had for about 40 years now. I think it is a bit interesting in that it was made and sold by Janet Taylor of London cir. 1855. Definitely a woman ahead of her time.
"Janet Taylor, a woman who made major contributions to Victorian navigation, is representative of a large historiographical gap in maritime and nautical histories. In these fields historians are typically inclined to look at famous men in navigation: John Hadley, John Campbell, and others who invented nautical instruments such as the octant and sextant. However, we have failed to contextualize the significant women who have innovated maritime practices throughout history. Taylor, for example, adjusted calculations for locating positions at sea according to the realization that the shape of the earth is not spherical, but spheroidal. She conveyed this new mathematical principle to the maritime community of London through the classes she taught at her nautical academies, the dozens of books she would publish, and the navigational tools she invented or innovated. Her multiple careers, and her success in each of them, were varied and far-reaching, making her truly a Jane of all trades. Her success as a woman in a male-dominated field was largely dependent on the industrial spirit of the nation and time in which she lived. As the industrial revolution created a need for advancement in technology and navigation, gender norms and the public/private dichotomy of Victorian England began to blur."