Honors Fellowships

Sarah Hale: Using Editorial Influence to Impact Domestic Feminism

The nineteenth century was a time characterized by a lack of women’s rights and women’s education in the United States. While American women were fighting to gain ground in the classroom and in the work place, Sarah Josepha Hale made a career for herself as editor of the most popular women’s magazine in the country, Godey’s Lady’s Book. At the time of its greatest success, Godey’s Lady’s Book had 150,000 subscribers across the entire nation, and each subscriber was reading a magazine edited and monitored by Hale. With such an immense influence on the tastes and views of women and men across the country, Hale was careful to utilize her editorial power to improve the lives of women, and in turn, the lives of all Americans.

Historians have criticized Hale for being too conservative, however, in her participation in the women’s rights movement. To the contrary, I intend to argue that although many of Hale’s changes seemed incremental, they ultimately had a major impact on women’s professional and educational opportunities. In order to grasp the gravity of Hale’s works, and have a an opportunity to look more extensively at the magazine, I will need to travel to Boston, Massachusetts, and Princeton, New Jersey to read original copies of Godey’s Lady’s Book.