Sarah Josepha Hale Collection



Sarah Josepha Hale Collection




Sarah Josepha Buell Hale (1788-1879) was a major literary figure of the 19th century. Born in New Hampshire, she was educated at home and by her mother and brother, Horatio. She married a young lawyer, David Hale, who died in 1822. As a result she had to find a way to support herself and her five children. She utilized her literary skills and published a collection of poems with mild success followed by her first novel entitled Northwood in 1827. Northwood advocated the repatriation of slaves to Africa by means of Liberia and called for New England style morality throughout the nation. In 1828 she began editing The Ladies’ Magazine of Boston, the first magazine for women to be edited by a woman. It had its financial difficulties and was united with Godey’s Lady’s Book (the majorly influential women’s magazine of the 19th century) in 1837. Godey’s was based in Philadelphia and she eventually she moved to Philadelphia from Boston to become more involved in her editorship of the magazine. These magazines acted as her platform to promote her moral agendas. She was a major proponent of equal education for women; however she was not a suffragist. She pushed for men and women to remain within their god-given spheres and believed women needed education to be better moral upholders of the home. Aside from being the editor of Godey’s Lady’s Book, she wrote many books and poems while lobbying for educational and social reform. Hale is also the author of Mary had a Little Lamb and the main person responsible for making Thanksgiving a national holiday (it was previously only celebrated in her native New England). Hale died in 1879 and was survived by four children (her oldest son died in 1839).


This collection of letters contains the correspondence of Sarah Josepha Buell Hale. It contains letters relating to both her professional and personal life and spans a 43 year period. It also contains a small number of letters between her close relatives.