First Women Magazine Editors

Early Women Magazine Editors: Few and Far Between

Ladies’ Magazine (1827-1836) was the first American magazine edited by a woman: Sarah Josepha Hale. In 1837 it merged with Lady’s Book and Magazine to become Godey’s Lady’s Book. Hale moved from Boston to Philadelphia to edit the new magazine. She did not regret the move.

Image: 1849 Cover of Godey’s Lady’s Book
Sarah Josepha Hale, Editor

For the most part, women’s magazines of the nineteenth century focused on concerns seen as appropriate to woman’s sphere. Advertisers found the traditional home-centered woman to be an excellent customer for their clothing, cosmetics and household products; therefore, they preferred to patronize publications that would not lead women to question their place in society.

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First Women Nurses

History of American Women Nurses

Nurses in the Revolutionary War (1775-1783)
The Revolutionary War shifted the role of some women from housewives to caregivers on the battlefront. Soon after the Continental Army was created in 1775 to fight in the Revolutionary War, General George Washington was made aware that the wounded and sick required good female nurses, as the wounded soldiers were suffering greatly.

Image: Following the Army by Pamela Patrick White
Many women camp followers were hired to serve as nurses in the Continental Army

Backstory
Throughout history most healthcare took place in the home by family, friends and neighbors with knowledge of healing practices. In the United States, family-centered sick care remained traditional until the nineteenth century. Sick care delivered by other than family and close acquaintances was generally limited to epidemics and plagues that periodically swept through towns and cities.

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Marie Zakrzewska

Founder of the New England Hospital for Women and Children

In 1862, Dr. Marie Zakrzewska, an American physician of Polish descent, made a name for herself as a pioneer female doctor. She founded the New England Hospital for Women and Children, the first hospital in Boston – and the second in the United States – to be run by women doctors and surgeons.

Early Years
Marie Zakrzewska (pronounced Zak-SHEV-ska) was born September 6, 1829 in Berlin, Germany, the eldest of six children to Ludwig Martin Zakrzewski and Caroline Fredericke Wilhelmina Urban. Her father was from a noble Polish family who had lost their wealth and property to the Russians, so he worked as a civil servant. Her grandmother was a veterinary surgeon, and her mother worked as a midwife. From age 13, Marie accompanied her mother on her rounds.

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Sarah Dorsey

Louisiana Author and Plantation Owner

Sarah Anne Ellis Dorsey was a novelist and historian from Louisiana. She published several novels and a highly regarded biography of Henry Watkins Allen, governor of Louisiana during the Civil War. It is considered an important contribution to the literature of the Lost Cause.

Early Years
Sarah Anne Ellis was born February 16, 1829 to Mary Malvina Routh Ellis and Thomas George Percy Ellis at the family estate in Natchez, Mississippi. Both of her parents were from wealthy families, and they owned plantations in Louisiana and Arkansas. Sarah was her serious-minded father’s joy, but he died in 1839 when she was nine.

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Adelicia Acklen

One of the Wealthiest Women in the South

Adelicia Hayes Franklin Acklen Cheatham (1817–1887) was one of the wealthiest women of the antebellum South. Her first husband died in 1846, leaving her an inheritance valued at approximately $1 million, which included seven Louisiana cotton plantations, a two-thousand-acre farm in Gallatin, Tennessee and hundreds of slaves. While Joseph Acklen was a great help to Adelicia in the operation of her many properties, she was actively involved in the management of her businesses, especially after his death.

Early Years
Adelicia Hayes was born on March 15, 1817 into a prominent family in Nashville, Tennessee. Her father was Oliver Bliss Hayes, a lawyer, judge and cousin of Rutherford B. Hayes, 19th President of the United States. Her mother was Sarah Clemmons Hightower Hayes of Franklin, Tennessee. Adelicia attended the Nashville Female Academy and at 17 was engaged to Alphonso Gibbs, a Harvard graduate who died before the wedding.

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19th Century Midwives

Midwives in 19th Century America

Childbirth in the American Colonies
Childbirth in colonial America was a difficult and sometimes dangerous experience for a woman. Since the typical mother gave birth to between five and eight children, her lifetime chances of dying in childbirth ran as high as 1 in 8. Death in childbirth was sufficiently common that many colonial women regarded pregnancy with dread.

Image: American pioneer birth scene
Gustave Joseph Witkowski, 1887

In addition to her anxieties about pregnancy, an expectant mother was filled with apprehensions about the death of her newborn child. In the healthiest seventeenth century communities, one infant in ten died before the age of five. In less healthy environments, three children in ten died before their fifth birthday.

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Jane Aitken

Businesswoman Who Printed First Bible in America

Jane Aitken (1764–1832) is a significant historical figure in the early nineteenth century. She was one of the first women printers in the early United States and the first woman in the US to print an English translation of the Bible. Aitken was also a publisher, bookbinder, bookseller and businesswoman, a time when the independence of women was actively discouraged. She published at least sixty works from 1802 to 1812.

Image: The Thomson Bible, printed by Jane Aitken

Early Years
Jane Aitken was born July 11, 1764 in Paisley, Scotland, the eldest of four children born to Robert and Janet Skeoch Aitken. Her father Robert Aitken was a stationery and book merchant in Scotland as well as a talented printer and bookbinder. The Aitken family emigrated to the American Colonies in 1771 (Jane would have been 7 years old), and settled in Philadelphia, where Robert set up a business selling stationery and books, as well as printing and binding books.

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First Women Newspaper Editors

History of American Women Editors

What Exactly is an Editor?
An editor’s job is to evaluate and select content for publication, which can include reviewing, rewriting and editing the work of writers; planning the content of books and magazines; and deciding what material will appeal to readers. Throughout American history, talented women have found opportunities – or made their own – in the newspaper business as editors and publishers.

Ann Franklin
America’s first woman newspaper editor, Ann Franklin (1696-1763) was the wife of the printer James Franklin and sister-in-law to Benjamin Franklin. It appears that Ann learned the newspaper business from her husband soon after her marriage in 1723.

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Jane Cunningham Croly

Trailblazer for Women Journalists and Syndicated Columnist

Jane Cunningham Croly (1829–1901) was a journalist, editor, and women’s club pioneer, better known by her pseudonym, Jennie June. She was the first woman to syndicate her column in cities across the country. Croly’s writing often indicated that she believed a woman’s true place was in the home, but also supported women’s access to better education and employment opportunities.

Jane Cunningham was born December 19, 1829 in Market Harborough, Leicestershire, England, the fourth child of Jane Scott and Joseph Howes Cunningham, a Unitarian preacher. Her father’s unpopular beliefs reportedly led the family to move to the United States in 1841, when Jane was twelve. The family settled in Poughkeepsie, New York, and later moved to Southbridge, Massachusetts.

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Susan Shelby Magoffin

Pioneer Woman on the Santa Fe Trail

Susan Shelby Magoffin was the young wife of a trader from the United States who traveled on the Santa Fe Trail in the late 1840s. She recorded her experiences in a diary – Down the Santa Fe Trail and Into Mexico: The Diary of Susan Shelby Magoffin, 1846-1847 (1926) – which has been used extensively as a source for that period in history.

Image: 7-foot tall statue sculpted by Ethan Houser
Keystone Heritage Park
El Paso, Texas

Early Years
Susan Shelby was born into a wealthy family on July 30, 1827 on their plantation near Danville, Kentucky. She was the granddaughter of Isaac Shelby, a hero of the American Revolution and the first governor of Kentucky. She grew up with servants and received a proper education.

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