Sarah Josepha Buell Hale Historical Marker
This historical marker is located approximately where author, poet, women's rights advocate, and one of America's first woman editors, Sarah Josepha Buell Hale (1788-1879), lived from around the 1840s to her death in 1879. As editor of the women's magazine "Godey's Lady's Book" for four decades, Hale played a highly impactful role in shaping women's lives across the country. She is also famous for successfully promoting a national Thanksgiving Day to President Abraham Lincoln. The historical marker was placed here by the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission in 2015.
Portrait of Sarah Josepha Hale with her original signature on it.
The Sarah Josepha Hale Marker is located approximately where her home was located in Philadelphia.
Cover from Godey's Lady's Book and Magazine in June of 1867.
Trading card for women's periodical containing a vignette showing two young, well-dressed ladies with a life-sized model of "Godey's Lady's Book."
The Sarah Josepha Hale Award has been presented annually since 1956 in New England by the trustees of the Richards Free Library in recognition of a distinguished body of work in the field of literature and letters.
Bust of Sarah Josepha Hale for a Memorial Park located in Newport New Hampshire.
Sarah Josepha Hale is also known as the Godmother of Thanksgiving because of her promotion to President Lincoln.
Sarah Josepha Hale is credited with the nursery rhyme of Mary Had a Little Lamb.
Backstory and Context
Sarah Josepha Hale was born on October 24th, 1788 in Newport New Hampshire. With her parents being strong advocates for education of both males and females, Hale was taught beyond the average age of females during this time period. She married David Hale, who was a lawyer, but she was widowed nine years later and left with her five children. After the untimely death of her husband in 1822, Hale went into poetry to support herself and her children. The most famous book she wrote was published in 1830 and was titled Poems for Our Children which included the famous nurses rhyme "Mary Had a Little Lamb." However, this was just the beginning of Hale's historical fame.
In the year 1837 she became the editor of the Godey's Lady's Book which allowed her to become a very influential voice for women in the 19th century. Some of the topics that she wrote on included women's education, child rearing, abolishing slavery and even colonization. In addition to being an editor for one of the first magazines focused on women's issues in the United States, Hale also raised money to support various historical sites. Some of the sites she donated to included George Washington's home as well as the construction of the Bunker Hill Monument. Due to Hale's unwavering support of both of these historical sites they are able to be publicly viewed today.
Although Hale was known as a women's right advocate she particular about the rights she believed women should possess. Hale believed in the right for women to be educated and to become property holders, but did not advocate for women's suffrage. The reasoning behind this was because Hale believed that women's involvement in politics and voting would subsequently limit their influence in their home life. Hale was forward thinking overall but was still trapped by stereotypical gender roles. She even showcased this through her writing by emphasizing women's role in the domestic realm of things.
Hale is also known for is advocating for Thanksgiving to become a national holiday. She began these efforts in 1846, writing to President Abraham Lincoln as well as other leading politicians to make this change. Thanksgiving, at this point in time, was only being celebrated in the Northeast. Her efforts to make Thanksgiving a national holiday were ignored until the year 1863 when, in the midst of the Civil War, President Lincoln declared Thanksgiving to be a national holiday. Hale's letter to the President is often referenced as a main factor in his decision to make Thanksgiving a national holiday.
Sarah Josepha Hale lived a life full of achievements and accolades until the very end. In fact, Hale remained an editor for Godey's Lady's Book until 1877 when she decided to finally retire. Two years after later she passed away at the accomplished age of 92. However, even though Hale has been gone for over a century she is still remembered today. In 2013 a memorial park was built in dedication to her in her childhood hometown of Newport, New Hampshire. Additionally, a literature award named after her has been presented by the Richards Free Library in Newport since 1956.
- Baker, Peggy M.. The Godmother of Thanksgiving: The Story of Sarah Josepha Hale, Pilgrim Society and Pilgrim Hall Museum. January 1st 2007. Accessed May 6th 2020. https://www.pilgrimhall.org/pdf/Godmother_of_Thanksgiving.pdf.
- Camp, John Henry. Godey's Lady's Book Publishing Company limited, 1006 Chestnut St. Philadelphia, The Library Company of Philadelphia . Invalid date. Accessed May 5th 2020. https://digital.librarycompany.org/islandora/object/digitool%3A120253/pages.
- Campbell, Elizabeth. Sarah Josepha Hale, Godmother of Thanksgiving, Clare Boothe Luce Center for Conservative Women. November 21st 2017. Accessed May 5th 2020. https://cblwomen.org/sarah-josepha-hale-godmother-thanksgiving/.
- Educational Videos for Students. Sarah Josepha Hale (Thanksgiving for Kids) History Lesson, YouTube. November 20th 2014. Accessed May 6th 2020. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2MBLxeyWVWY.
- Greenberg, Hope . Godey's Lady's Book: Sarah Josepha Hale, The University of Vermont . September 1st 2001. Accessed May 6th 2020. http://www.uvm.edu/~hag/godey/hale.html.
- Hale, Sarah Josepha Buell. Mary Had a Little Lamb, Internet Archive. October 6th 2011. Accessed May 5th 2020. https://archive.org/details/maryhadlittlelam00sara.
- Hale, Sarah Josepha. Mary's Lamb. Juvenile Miscellany . September 15th 1830. vol. 5 no. 1 pg.64.
- Norwood, Arlisha R.. Sarah Josepha Hale, National Women's History Museum . January 1st 2017. Accessed May 6th 2020. https://www.womenshistory.org/education-resources/biographies/sarah-hale.
- Richards Free Library. Hale Award, Richards Free Library. Accessed May 5th 2020. https://newport.lib.nh.us/sarah-josepha-hale/sarah-josepha-hale-award/.
- Richards Free Library. Sarah Josepha Hale Memorial Park Dedication, Richards Free Library. November 23rd 2013. Accessed May 6th 2020. https://newport.lib.nh.us/sarah-josepha-hale/sarah-josepha-hale-memorial-park/
- Smith, Bonnie Hurd. Sarah Josepha Hale, Boston Women's Heritage Trail. Accessed May 6th 2020. https://bwht.org/sarah-josepha-hale/.
- The History of Thanksgiving Sarah Josepha Hale, YouTube. November 22nd 2012. Accessed May 6th 2020. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Au2YEtyAQqE.
- Young, Robyn. Sarah Josepha Hale (1788-1879), The Historical Marker Database. August 23rd 2018. Accessed May 5th 2020. https://www.hmdb.org/m.asp?m=122313.
New York Public Library on the Historical Marker Database Site
Robyn Young of Media, PA on the Historical Marker Database Site
Godey's Lady's Book Wikipedia
The Library Company of Philadelphia
Richards Free Library
Richards Free Library
Clare Boothe Luce Center for Conservative Women