Meeting the Lady of Godey’s

In order to better understand how Sarah Josepha Hale used Godey’s Lady’s Book to further advance the rights and opportunities for American women, it was important that I understand who Hale was, and how she grew into the woman and editress that she eventually became. While Hale’s work is accessible through digital and physical copies of both Godey’s Lady’s Book and her other works, there is a more limited amount of information on Hale herself.

The most extensive source of information comes from Ruth Finley’s 1974 text, The Lady of Godey’s. While this text does give a unique amount of insight into Hale’slife, from her upbringing on a New Hampshire farm to her loving marriage to David Hale, it takes a less-than-scholarly approach to Hale’s editorial career to some extent. Due to its year of publication, I have found the text to be somewhat dated in its conceptualization of women’s rights and how Hale’s career impacted their growth.

The Lady of Godey's

Despite these setbacks, however, I have used to the text to glean a significant amount of details about Hale’s life that had not been available in any other text I have been able to access. For example, I learned that Vassar College used to be known as Vassar Women’s College, but Hale insisted that the presence of the word “Women’s” was an unnecessary distinction, and that the institution should simply be known as Vassar’s College. As a result, the college decided to change its name. Unfortunately, they merely struck out the word “Women’s” on their signage, leaving it as Vassar              College (leaving a great space between the two words).

This text has certainly given me a different perspective through which I can examine Hale to better understand her unique style of subtle activism.