William G. Lee papers
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William G. Lee papers

Descriptive Summary

Repository: Georgia Historical Society
Creator: Lee, William G., 1857-1940.
Title: William G. Lee papers
Dates: 1891-1940
Extent: 0.15 cubic feet (3 folders)
Identification: MS 0916

Biographical/Historical Note

William G. Lee (1857-1940) was born in Norfolk, Virginia. At the age of 18, he stowed away on a ship out of Norfolk. He eventually became a ship captain and later an inspector of hulls and steam vessels for the District of Savannah. During his career he saved 16 persons from drowning.

Scope and Content Note

This collection consists of the papers of William G. Lee. Included in these papers are two commissions as Inspector of Hulls for steam vessels, a citation from the Secretary of the U.S. Treasury Department presenting the Congressional life-saving medal and outlining Lee's career, correspondence, and clippings. In the correspondence are telegrams of condolence and a letter from Thomas Gamble, the Mayor of Savannah, to Mr. and Mrs. E. Kenneth Baker on the death of Captain Lee and a letter from Southeastern Shipbuilding Corporation regarding the launch of the S.S. William G. Lee in 1944. Also included in this collection are a tintype of Captain Lee as a small boy, a portrait of Lee as an adult (includes photograph and negative), and an image of adult Lee with an unidentified woman (negative only).

Index Terms

Gamble, Thomas, 1858-1945.
Lee, William G., 1857-1940.
Letters (correspondence)
Lifesaving--United States.
Military commissions.
Negatives (photographic)
Tintypes (prints)
United States. Navy--Medals, badges, decorations, etc.

Administrative Information

Custodial History

E. Kenneth Baker's wife, Lucille Stead Baker, was the creator's niece.

Preferred Citation

[item identification], William G. Lee papers, MS 916, Georgia Historical Society, Savannah, Georgia.

Acquisition Information

Gift of E. Kenneth Baker, 1974.


Access Restrictions

Collection is open for research.

Publication Rights

Copyright has not been assigned to the Georgia Historical Society. All requests for permission to publish or quote from manuscripts must be submitted in writing to the Division of Library and Archives. Permission for publication is given on behalf of the Georgia Historical Society as the owner of the physical items and is not intended to include or imply permission of the copyright holder, which must also be obtained by the researcher.

Separated Material

Artifacts were separated and cataloged with the Georgia Historical Society Artifacts Collection. View digital images of artifacts at the end of this collection inventory or search the Digital Image Catalog for further information.


Encoding funded by a 2012 Documenting Democracy grant from the National Historical Publications and Records Commission.

Container List



Includes 2 commissions as Inspector of Hulls for steam vessels, May 16 and 25, 1891; citation from Secretary of U.s. Treasury Dept., J.G. Carlisle, presenting Congressional life saving medal and outlining his career, March 22, 1893; letter from J.W. Somerville to Lee, Washington, D.C., February 18, 1938, enclosing drawings of steamers Fannie Dugan and Isis and "all boats are gone on St. Johns except ---;" will of Capt. Lee, December 5, 1939; 2 Sunday school citations to Kenneth Baker, 1933-1934.


21940-1944 and undated ( 8.0 items. )
Letter of Mayor Thomas Gamble, Savannah, to Capt. George Brill, November 16, 1940, re Lee's death; 4 telegrams of condolence to Mr. and Mrs. E. Kenneth Baker; funeral record, "Friends Who Called;" letter of J.R. Wakeman, assistant to the president, Southeastern Shipbuilding Corporation to Mrs. E. Kenneth Baker, June 6, 1944, re launching of the S.S. William G. Lee.


3Clippings, photographs, sketches, 1897-1940 and undated ( 22.0 items. ) View online.
"Sketch of the Life of Capt. William G. Lee...," Savannah, Robinson Printing House, 1897 (photocopy of pamphlet); clippings re Capt. Lee's career and death; tintype of Capt. Lee as a small boy and photograph of him as a grown man; typed, undated account of Captain Lee's heroism.
Online Inventory Contains Digitized Items


3Includes 2 negatives: Portrait of Lee as adult (see photograph in Folder 3 above) and image of adult Lee with an unidentified woman (no print available)
A-0916-001 Gold watch and chain presented to Captain William G. Lee View online.
A-0916-002 William G. Lee’s congressional medal for life saving View online.
A-0916-003 Medal awarded to Captain William G. Lee from the St. Patrick’s Total Abstinence and Benevolent Society for saving the lives of two children View online.
A-0916-004 Mother of pearl and aluminum opera glasses View online.
A-0916-005 Captain William G. Lee’s lifesaving medal from the De Bary Merchant Line View online.