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Buell Hale, Sarah Josepha (1788-1879)

Sarah Josepha Buell Hale (1788-1879)

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Editor, author, and poet

Youth. Born in the eighteenth century, Sarah Josepha Buell grew up in an era when girls were denied access to advanced formal education. Young Buell was instead tutored by her brothers and through them received the equivalent of a college education. As a young woman Buell taught boys and girls in a private school near her home in Newport, New Hampshire, until 1813, when she married the young lawyer David Hale. Hale furthered Sarahs private education; together the Hales studied world history, French, and botany.

Early Success. Hales writing career began when her husband submitted some of her stories and poems to the Newport weekly newspaper. After David Hales death in 1822 Sarah briefly went into a millinery business with her sister-in-law until the local Masonic organization (of which her husband had been a member) offered to publish a volume of her poetry. When The Genius of Oblivion, and Other Original Poems, By a Lady of New Hampshire, appeared in 1823, its success encouraged Hale to quit the hat-making business and work on her writing. She wrote numerous stories and poems for various magazines, and in December 1827 her novel Northwood appeared. It was well received by readers and favorably reviewed; one admirer, the Reverend John Lauris Blake, offered Hale the position of editor for a new periodical to be written exclusively for women.

Ladies Magazine . From 1828 through December 1836 Hale edited the Ladies Magazine, later known as the American Ladies Magazine. In the magazines prospectus Hale insisted that the magazines work will be nationalAmericanand well written communications, whether poems, letters, sketches, tales, or essays, descriptive of American scenery, character, and manners, will be welcome to its pages. She was determined to put out a magazine dedicated to the education of women and worked to make the LadiesMagazine enlightening as well as entertaining. To that end she strongly resisted the publication of lithographed fashion plates in the magazine. Hale also resisted the common practice of snipping sentimental and Gothic stories and poetry from British magazines and relied on contributors such as Lydia Sigourney, Sarah Whitman, Lydia Child, Elmira Hunt, and Maria Fuller to provide original material.

Godeys Ladys Book. In 1837 economic pressure forced Hale to allow her Ladies Magazine to be merged with Louis Godeys Ladys Book. Hale edited the Lady Book from Boston until 1841, when she moved to Philadelphia, where Godey was based. Although Godey insisted that fashion plates be published, Hale maintained control over the magazines literary content and used her column The Ladys Mentor to continue her campaign for womens education. Wrote Hale: This then is the final goal of our purpose, to carry onward and upward the spirit of moral and intellectual excellence in our sex, till their influence shall bless as well as beautify civil society. Hale served as editor of Godeys Ladys Book until 1877.

Little Lamb. Hales interest in education and child psychology gave a particularly domestic shape to her editorial writing. She had supported Emma Willards work to establish the Troy Female Seminary, founded in 1821, and would continue to support womens educational institutions throughout her life, including her efforts to get women onto the faculty of Vassar College after its founding in 1861. Hale also wrote extensively about child-rearing methods and tactics and collaborated with composer and music educator Lowell Mason, who asked her to compose some short poems that he could set to music as teaching tools. The result was Hales Poems for Our Children (1830), which included a popular paraphrase of the Lords Prayer and the childhood standard Mary Had a Little Lamb.

Separate Spheres. Although she used her editorial positions to urge that women be educated as the equals of men, Hale resisted any suggestion that women should have an equal political voice. She opposed womens public speaking and broke with her friend Elizabeth Oakes Smith, a writer and advocate of womens rights, when Smith became in 1851 the first woman to travel and speak on the lyceum circuit. While Hale held antislavery beliefs, apparent in Northwood, she did not condone the activities of women abolitionists and supported colonization over total emancipation. Hale believed that mens and womens spheres were sharply separated, and she encouraged women to enter the public world only on behalf of specific, circumscribed causes, such as her fund-raising efforts for the Bunker Hill Monument and her long campaign for a national Thanksgiving Day. Hale always asserted that her own literary work was done solely for the benefit of her children, not for fame or personal satisfaction.

Legacy. Hales daughter Josepha followed in her mothers earliest footsteps by establishing a school for girls in Philadelphia in 1857, which she ran until her death in 1863. Godeys Ladys Book eulogized Josepha Hale by describing her as Endeared to all who knew her, and greatly beloved by the young hearts she had carefully trained to occupy womans true place in the world, while earnestly seeking the heavenly inheritance words that were applicable to the mother as well as to the daughter.

Source

Patricia Okker, Our Sister Editors: Sarah J. Hale and the Tradition of Nineteenth-Century American Women Editors (Athens: University of Georgia Press, 1995);

Sherbrooke Rogers, Sarah Josepha Hale: A New England Pioneer, 17881879 (Grantham, N.H.: Tompson & Rutter, 1985).

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Sarah Josepha Hale

Sarah Josepha Hale

For nearly 50 years Sarah Josepha Hale (1788-1879) was the editor of America's most influential women's magazine.

Sarah Josepha Buell was born in Newport, N.H. She was educated at home and in October 1813 married David Hale, a lawyer. He encouraged her to write for local newspapers. When he died in 1822, leaving his widow with five children, Mrs. Hale attempted a full-scale literary career. Some early verse was well received, and in 1827 her first novel, Northwood:A Tale of New England, brought her serious critical attention. The Reverend John Laurie Blake was just about to found a monthly magazine for women in Boston, and he offered her the editorship. Accepting, she moved to Boston in 1828 and edited Ladies' Magazine there until 1837.

The magazine was a success, the first of its kind to take an important place in American periodical publication. It featured fiction, poetry, essays, and criticism and was characterized by its attempts both to define and to celebrate the wholesome and tasteful in American life. Hale wrote most of the material for each issue, and every month she pressed her arguments in favor of improved education for women and a role for women in the culture as teachers and moral guides. She rejected, with equal steadiness, the claims of the feminist movement for the right of women to occupy positions of executive authority in the political and business worlds.

In 1837 Louis A. Godey bought out the magazine, changed the name to Godey's Lady's Book, and promoted it to fame with impressive skill. Hale remained as editor, moved to Philadelphia, and for 40 years reigned as the taste maker of the American household. The magazine prided itself on being "a beacon light of refined taste, pure morals, and practical wisdom."

Though she always contributed freely to all departments of the magazine, as the years went by Hale concentrated most of her attention on the sections called "Literary Notices" and "Editor's Table." It was there that she tirelessly managed her campaign to establish standards of taste, delicacy, and decorum for American women.

Among her 36 volumes of essays, fiction, drama, poetry, cookbooks, and giftbooks, Hale published the huge Women's Record:Sketches of Distinguished Women, in at least three editions. Her poem "Mary Had a Little Lamb" first appeared in Poems for Our Children in 1830.

At the age of 90 Hale contributed her last article and retired, the acknowledged arbiter of 19th century American feminine manners and morals.

Further Reading

A scholarly, full-length study of Mrs. Hale is Ruth E. Finley, The Lady of Godey's:Sarah Josepha Hale (1931). Her career is also recounted in Helen Beal Woodward, The Bold Women (1953), and Walter Davenport and James C. Derieux, Ladies, Gentlemen and Editors (1960).

Additional Sources

Rogers, Sherbrooke, Sarah Josepha Hale:a New England pioneer, 1788-1879, Grantham, N.H.:Tompson & Rutter, 1985. □

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Hale, Sarah Josepha (Buell)

Sarah Josepha (Buell) Hale, 1788–1879, American author, editor, and feminist, b. near Newport, N.H. In 1828 she became editor of the Ladies' Magazine, Boston, and in 1837 of Godey's Lady's Book, Philadelphia, where she remained over 40 years. The illustrated Lady's Book strongly influenced fashions and manners of her day. Mrs. Hale cultivated female authors and constantly urged the higher education of women. She also advocated a national Thanksgiving holiday. Her poem "Mary Had a Little Lamb" was published in her Poems for Our Children (1830).

See O. W. Burt, First Woman Editor (1960).

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"Hale, Sarah Josepha (Buell)." The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.. . Retrieved August 21, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/reference/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/hale-sarah-josepha-buell