Unlike many women of her time, Harriet Livermore was born into a wealthy middle-class family with access to higher education. She never settled into a single denomination, but instead focused on the task to “restore the apostolic simplicity of the primitive church.” She followed no creed except what she deemed as “biblical truths” taken from the New Testament. 2 She was permitted to give sermons in many Protestant congregations during the 19th century, including meetinghouses of the Church of the Brethren where she established relationships with notable Brethren figures, such as Sarah Righter Major and Abraham Harley Cassel.
The date was March 27, 1941, eight months before the USA entered World War Two. The ZamZam was a rickety Egyptian freighter, sailing from New York bound for Alexandria by way of the Cape of Good Hope. On board were ambitious tobacco buyers, refugees from bomb-torn England, 136 missionaries and family members from 19 different faiths, a couple of dozen irreverent and high-spirited ambulance drivers, at least one noted scientist, and a motley multi-ethnic crew. The ZamZam took a zigzag course, running quietly so as to avoid running into any German commerce raiders.