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Record Group Number: 000175
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Creator: United States. Life-Saving Service.
Title, Dates: United States Life-Saving Service record group.
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Biographical/Historical Note:     The United States Life-Saving Service can trace its origins to 1787, when those living along the coast of Massachusetts established a volunteer effort to rescue and aid the numerous shipwrecks shipwreck victims.  In 1807, the Massachusetts Humane Society built surfboats and equipped "Huts of Refuge" with boats and equipment to be used by volunteer crews in rescues.  In 1848 Congress passed the Newell Act providing for construction of structures to house life-saving rescue equipment in traditional shipwreck areas, principally the New Jersey coastal approaches to New York harbor.  In 1852, Congress created the U.S. Lighthouse Board  to better administer lighthouse/lightship responsibilities.  Finally, in 1871, following a winter in which particularly vicious storms ripped into the Atlantic coast and the Great Lakes, causing great loss of life and property, a public outcry convinced Congress to establish the U.S. Life-Saving Service (USLSS) to meet the need for protection of the life of the men at sea and their ships and cargo.  Congress appropriated $100,000 to build and equip new lifesaving stations.

    By 1874, life-saving stations expanded to include the coast of Maine and ten locations south of Cape Henry, Virginia, including the outer banks of North Carolina. The next year, additional stations were built on Delmarva, the Great Lakes, and the coast of Florida. Eventually, the Gulf and West Coasts would be included, as well as a floating station on the Ohio River at Louisville, Kentucky, and a boathouse at Nome, Alaska Territory.
    By 1878, life-saving stations were mushrooming throughout the country.  Congress authorized the construction of three types of stations: the full Life-Saving Station - built along the Atlantic and areas on the Great Lakes, the Lifeboat Station - found near deep water ports on the Great Lakes and the west coast, and Houses of Refuge - along the warmer south Atlantic and Gulf coasts.  The Life-Saving Service adopted the district system of organization which was initially created for the Lighthouse Service.  By 1881 the service had 183 stations organized into 12 districts, including District 7 (eastern Florida).

    On January 20, 1915 the U.S. Revenue Cutter Service and U.S. Life-Saving Service were combined to form the United States Coast Guard.
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