October 24, 1852

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Sarah Josepha Hale 

(1788 – 1879)

Sunday Oct 24th  Mrs Davenport, Miss Alger & self

staid at home in the morning and I cooked

a dinner  Martin Carr came home with

them at noon and was here to dine  We all

went to meeting this afternoon  Mrs D & Miss

Alger played and sang and we have had a pleasant evening

Evelina played hostess on this Sabbath Day, staying home from the morning church service to be with her female guests and to cook a dinner. Between services, the men came home for the meal, bringing Martin Carr with them. Martin, who was Oakes Angier’s age, was the son of Caleb Carr, a long-time employee of the shovel shop. Martin was a jeweler by trade; perhaps he knew Edward Davenport, a jeweler in Attleboro, who was staying with the Ameses.

The socializing continued in the evening with tea and entertainment. Both Celestine Davenport and Miss Alger “played and sang.”  What fun to have music in the parlor. Perhaps Susie Ames was inspired by the pleasure that piano playing produced.

Evelina wouldn’t have known it, or acknowledged it particularly if she had, but today was the birthday of Sarah Josepha Hale. Mrs. Hale was the influential editor of Godey’s Lady’s Book, the most popular periodical of the day for women. Her first editing job, which she took on as a young widow with five children, was for The Ladies Magazine in Boston. After Ladies merged with Lady’s, in 1836 – 1837, Mrs. Hale moved to Philadelphia and became the “editress,” – a term she preferred – of Godey’s for the next forty years. While there, she published the work of Edgar Allen Poe, Nathaniel Hawthorne, Lydia Sigourney, Caroline Lee Hentz, Washington Irving, Emma Willard and Catharine Beecher – among other authors whose writing has not held up as well through the decades.

Mrs. Hale did more than just read at a desk. While still living in Boston, she established the Seaman’s Aid Society to help the widows and orphans of men lost at sea. She raised a much-needed balance of funds for the completion of the erection of the Bunker Hill Monument, the funding of which had stalled. Though many members of the stymied Monument Association assured Mrs. Hale that she couldn’t succeed, she raised tens of thousands of dollars from individual donors and from a week-long women’s craft fair that she organized at Quincy Market. The latter event alone – the first of its kind – raised more than $30,000 from the sale of domestic goods like homemade preserves, knitted scarves, hand-sewn aprons and caps, and specially donated items. She built the template for that kind of event.

Mrs. Hale also raised money for the maintenance of George Washington’s home, Mt. Vernon, which had fallen into disrepair. She championed the establishment of Vassar, the country’s first female liberal arts college. She promoted the advancement of education and employment for women, tirelessly. Most famous of all, she was able to persuade President Abraham Lincoln to establish Thanksgiving as a national holiday, a pet project of hers that she had put forward to a line of presidents before him. Most disappointing of all, Sarah Hale never got on board the women’s suffrage movement. She believed that giving women the vote would lead them into politics, which was too disreputable and crafty a calling for the high moral stature of the true female mind.

There is much to be said about Sarah Josepha Hale. We must not forget that she was also an author. She wrote many of the articles in Godey’s, she penned novels, children’s books, household guides and poems. It was her pen that wrote “Mary Had a Little Lamb.” She was a phenomenal woman for her time.

October 12, 1851

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Sunday Oct 12th  Had a Catholic meeting at 8 Oclock  Jane went

Have not been to meeting to day on account of the

humour was affraid that I could not sit still.  Susan

went & all the rest of the family  Read in Goodeys

Ladys Book .  Quite stormy & could not go to

Augustus’ as I intended  Have had a very quiet 

day

For the third Sunday in a row, Evelina missed church.  Her nettlerash, or “humour,” still bothered her to such an extent that she had trouble sitting still. She stayed home and by her own admission, “had a very quiet day” while the rest of her family went to meeting. Even the servant, Jane McHanna, left the house to go to a service in the new Catholic Church on Pond Street.

Her father-in-law, Old Oliver Ames, who kept a daily record of the weather, reported that “this was a cloudy warm day and there was 2 or 3 small showers in all about one 4th or 3/8 of an inch southerly.” Evelina evidently studied the raindrops from her perch in the house and decided to postpone her intended visit to the village to see her nephew and his family. Instead she read from Godey’s Lady’s Book, the popular monthly periodical to which she subscribed.

Published in Philadelphia by Louis Godey and edited by Sarah Josepha Hale (a high-profile writer who, among many other accomplishments, wrote Mary Had a Little Lamb), Godey’s Lady’s Book was, as its title suggests, targeted at women. It featured domestic fiction and household hints, sentimental poetry and architectural plans.  It showcased contemporary writing by authors such as Nathaniel Hawthorne and Washington Irving, yet also published three editions in which women, and only women, wrote the articles.  A testy Hawthorne actually complained to his publisher about the influx of female authors, calling them “a damned mob of scribbling women.”

By 1855, the magazine even carried a feature entitled Employment for Women. Each monthly volume of Godey’s contained various illustrations and at least one fashion plate, imperative for home-seamstresses everywhere who wanted to stay abreast of the styles in dress. It was a magazine perfectly aimed at Evelina, and she followed it loyally.