Our Legacy: A Few Thoughts, an Editor, and a Holiday

I didn’t write a Thanksgiving post before Thanksgiving last year. My blog at that time was only a few months old. I did write a post a week later detailing some of the things I was thankful for as a writer – some things that didn’t exist when I started writing. It is titled “Computers, Conferences, and Coffee”.

In this post, I chose something different. When I’m stuck for inspiration, it helps to draw on the rich history of the profession. With this in mind, I’d like to recount some information about…

One Tenacious Writer and Editor

Sara was born, October 24, 1788. She was educated as a young child by her mother and her brother. Sara’s parents believed in equal education for both the boys and girls. Later, she continued to learn through books and other methods of self-education.

She became a teacher in 1811 and met David Hale that same year. She was married on October 23, 1813. She and her husband David had five children. The last child, William, was born in 1822, the same year David Hale died. Widowed at age 34, with five young children and little income, she was able to make a meager living through writing poetry and sewing.

writing fixed blank pageMost of her accomplishments were yet to come.

She published a book of poems a year later with the help of her husband’s Freemason Lodge.

She wrote her first successful novel at age thirty-nine titled “Northwood: Life North and South, in America”, and in London, under the title “A New England Tale.”

At forty she was asked to become the editor for “The Ladies Magazine”. She worked there for nine years (1828-1836).

Her collection, “Poems for Our Children,” includes “Mary Had a Little Lamb” (originally titled “Mary’s Lamb”). It was published in 1830.

Nine years after becoming the editor for “The Ladies Magazine”, she went to work for “Godey’s Lady’s Book” and helped the publication reach 150,000 subscribers, the largest circulation in the country during the 1850’s.

She would publish nearly fifty books in her lifetime.

The rest of the story

Sara Josepha Hale was the first female magazine editor and an advocate for equal education rights for women. She wrote editorials in publications and letters to Writing-our heritage-writing toolspoliticians of her day. She fought for many of her beliefs.

One thing that she believed would help unite the country was having a national day of thanksgiving. A handful of states held their own, but on many different dates. For forty years, she kept writing and pushing for a nationally recognized day of thanksgiving. Finally, in 1863, Abraham Lincoln proclaimed the last Thursday in November as a national day of Thanksgiving.

It’s true; it took over 200 years after that first famous Thanksgiving in 1621 before Thanksgiving Day was officially proclaimed as a national day of thankfulness, praise and prayer.

Sarah Hale continued to write and edit until she finally retired in 1877 at eighty-nine years old. She died two years later at age ninety-one.

It was hard to know which things I should include in this post about this amazing writer and editor. These are only a few of the accomplishments of Sarah Josepha Hale. I invite you to do some research on your own. I’m thankful for writers and editors who paved the way for both men and women to write words that can make a difference.

Happy Thanksgiving Day

PS. (I’ve decided to record a few posts. This 2013 post is the first. Click to hear my reading of it).

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7 comments on “Our Legacy: A Few Thoughts, an Editor, and a Holiday
  1. Erica says:

    Another great post, Peter. I didn’t know about either of these two ladies and to read their stories is quite uplifting. And to a degree, empowering. Thank you.

  2. Julie Luek says:

    Oh this was so fun to read! Thank you for sharing. Enjoy the holiday.

  3. dmswriter says:

    Your timing is perfect, Peter – I’ve been feeling a little slow on the inspiration front, so it helps a lot to learn more about Sara’s story. One wonderful thing about writing is that there is no age limit – we can write well into our golden years if we so choose. What a gift that is!

    • Deanne, that’s what it’s all about. I’m glad to hear that this encouraged you. Thank you for leaving a comment and letting me know. Feel free to pass it on to anyone who needs uplifting or someone who needs a Happy Thanksgiving wish.

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