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Sarah Joseph Hale &
Godey's Lady's Book

Godey's Lady's Book serves as a good example of the progress being made in women's education and is one of the ways in which this progress was promoted.

During the nineteenth century Godey’s Lady’s Book was perhaps the most popular magazine of its time. The magazine included articles on fashion, health, architecture, beauty, gardening and cooking and emphasized that women’s place was in the home, but it also played a large role in the promotion of women's education. In 1836, Sarah Josepha Hale became the editor of the popular magazine. While Hale maintained that a woman’s place was in the home, she also had progressive ideas about women’s education. Hale saw women as possessing moral superiority and she saw education as a way to advance women’s moral aptitude.

Hale used her position as editor of such a popular magazine to promote the education of women. At it’s peak the magazine reached a circulation of over 150,000. She began publishing the works of many of the most popular writers such as John Irving, Henry Longfellow, Oliver Wendell Holmes, Ralph Waldo Emerson, William Cullen Bryant, and Edgar Allen Poe. She also encouraged women to better their own writing skills by publishing articles on writing techniques and composition and by suggesting reading courses for her readers. 

As women’s schools opened, Hale began printing notices which included their location and cost. She was especially pleased with Vassar College which was designed to give women the same education as that of men’s. Hale gave Vassar College free publicity by printing several articles on its status and progress and persuaded the College to hire female teachers instead of all males. 

Hale worked closely with fellow proponents of female education Catherine Beecher and Emma Willard. She published work by the two women as well as The Board of National Popular Education, which Beecher founded. In 1846, Godey’s began taking requests from communities looking for teachers and teachers looking for jobs and began filling positions across the country. 

“The Lady’s Book…was the first avowed advocate of the holy cause of woman’s intellectual progress; it has been the pioneer in the wonderful change of public sentiment respecting female education and the employment of female talent in educating the young. We intend to go on…till female education shall receive the same careful attention and liberal support from public legislation as are bestowed on that of the other sex. Such is the mission of the Lady’s Book” (6). -Sarah Josepha Hale, 1850 



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Godey's Lady's Book
covers from the 1850s

Godey's Lady's Book Cover 1850s

Godey's Lady's Book cover 1850s

Godey's Lady's Book cover 1857
Click on image for larger view



(c) Copyright National Women's History Museum, 2007