McDowell, Anne E. (1826–1901)

views updated

McDowell, Anne E. (1826–1901)

American publisher . Born in Smyrna, Delaware, on June 23, 1826; died in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, in 1901.

Anne E. McDowell was born in Smyrna, Delaware, on June 23, 1826, and early in life developed an interest in women's and labor rights. She founded the Philadelphia Woman's Advocate, a weekly newspaper, in 1855. The Advocate was unprecedented, not only in that it was written for and about women but also because all of its staff, including printers and typesetters, were women. The paper's stated goal was "the elevation of the female industrial class," which McDowell put into practice by paying her employees the same wages earned by men in similar jobs, and its stance reflected her advocacy of the rights of laborers.

Despite her best efforts, the Woman's Advocate went out of business in 1860. McDowell then became editor of the women's department of the Philadelphia Sunday Despatch. For a woman to occupy such a position of authority in the publishing industry was nearly unheard of at the time; she stayed for 11 years. In 1871, McDowell became the editor of the Philadelphia Sunday Republic. While she remained active in the publishing business, she also took an increasing interest in labor issues. In 1884, she created an organization to secure sickness and death benefits for employees of Wanamaker's department store, and also founded the McDowell Free Library for women employed by Wanamaker's. She died in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, in 1901.


Edgerly, Lois Stiles, ed. Give Her This Day. Gardiner, ME: Tilbury House, 1990.

Read, Phyllis J., and Bernard L. Witlieb. The Book of Women's Firsts. NY: Random House, 1992.

Grant Eldridge , freelance writer, Pontiac, Michigan

About this article

McDowell, Anne E. (1826–1901)

Updated About content Print Article