Ann Franklin

Colonial Newspaper Printer and Publisher

Little is known about the early life of Ann Smith, other than she was raised in Boston, and had a solid education. At the age of twenty-seven, she married James Franklin, printer and publisher of The New England Courant. James’ hostility toward church and government authorities resulted in a jail term for printing “scandalous libel.”

After his release from prison, James was ordered to cease printing the Courant, and publication of the newspaper was turned over to James’ apprentice and younger brother, Benjamin Franklin.

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Deborah Read Franklin

Wife of Founding Father Benjamin Franklin

Deborah Read Franklin played an important role in the founding of the United States simply by taking on the management of her family businesses. By so doing, she allowed her husband, founding father Benjamin Franklin, the opportunity to actively pursue his role in state and national politics in the decades before and after the American Revolution.

Deborah Read was born about 1707 to John Read, a British carpenter, and his wife Sarah White Read. Whether Deborah was born while her parents still lived in England, or after they moved to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, is uncertain. The second of seven children, Read received little formal education. Almost nothing else is known about her childhood.

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Jane Mecom

Benjamin Franklin’s Favorite Sister

Benjamin Franklin, the tenth of Josiah Franklin’s sons, was six years old when Jane, the seventh daughter, was born on March 27, 1712. Known to historians as Benjamin Franklin’s favorite sister, Jane was eleven when her restless brother ran away from Boston to begin his career in Philadelphia. After that, the two were together only seven times in their long lives, sometimes briefly, never more than a few months at a time.

On July 27, 1727, Jane was married at fifteen to Edward Mecom, a neighbor eight years her senior. It appears that her parents didn’t ¬like the match, possibly because of her youth, because she was married not by one of the ministers of her family church, but by William Cooper of the Brattle Street Church, which her uncle had attended.

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Milcah Martha Moore

Quaker Writer and Poet

A commonplace book is a manuscript kept by an individual containing literary passages, quotations, recipes, poems, or passages from other sources that the individual thought worthy of recording.

Milcah Martha Moore (1740-1829) lived and flourished in the Philadelphia area during its peak, when it was the center of commerce, politics, social life, and culture in the young republic. A well-educated woman, Moore knew and corresponded with many of the leading intellectuals of her day. From her network of acquaintances, she created a commonplace book.

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Mary Katherine Goddard

First Female Newspaper Publisher (1775)

Mary Katherine Goddard (1738-1816) is famous for printing the first copy of the Declaration of Independence that included the names of all the signers. Like her younger brother William, Mary Katherine was educated by her mother, Sarah Updike Goddard, who taught them Latin, French and the literary classics. Mary Katherine’s father, Dr. Giles Goddard, was postmaster of New London, Connecticut, and the family was living there when Dr. Goddard died in 1757, leaving a sizable estate.

William Goddard completed an apprenticeship in the printing trade, and when he came of age, the family moved to Providence, Rhode Island, where Sarah Goddard lent her son the money to begin a printing business – the first in that colony. Both mother and daughter also began their careers as printers there in 1762, when Mary Katherine was 24.

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Anna Zenger

Colonial Newspaper Publisher

The Trial of John Peter Zenger
Anna Catherine Maulin was born in Germany, and immigrated as a child in 1710 with her family to escape religious persecution. Upon their arrival, the Maulin family settled in what is now New York City.  

John Peter Zenger came to America from Germany with his parents in 1710 at the age of 13. His father died on the trip, leaving his mother to raise the children alone.

Zenger’s mother agreed that John Peter would work as an indentured servant for William Bradford, who was a pioneer printer in the middle colonies. Zenger spent the next eight years with Bradford learning about printing.

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Cornelia Bradford

Female Colonial Printer

Cornelia Smith Bradford took over the Philadelphia print center of Andrew Bradford at his death in 1742. She took on a partner, and continued the business through the partnership of “Isaiah Warner & Cornelia Bradford” until October, 1744. Then Cornelia resumed the operation until at least 1751.

Andrew Bradford was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, the son of William Bradford and Elizabeth Soules. His father probably came to America from Leicestershire, England, with William Penn and his company in 1682. William Bradford then moved his family to New York in 1693, and was there appointed Royal Printer. He established the New York Gazette in 1725, which was believed to be the first newspaper printed in the colonies.

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Bathsheba Bowers

Women in Religion: Female Quaker Preacher

Quaker writer and speaker Bathsheba Bowers wrote a spiritual autobiography, An Alarm Sounded to Prepare the Inhabitants of the World to Meet the Lord in the Way of His Judgments (1709), one of the first published religious testimonials by an Anglo-American woman. In a biographical sketch of Bowers written in 1879, William J. Potts referred to other works written by her, but none of these has come to light in scholarly research, and her reputation accordingly rests solely on her spiritual autobiography.

Raised in Charlestown, Massachusetts, Bowers was one of twelve children born to Benanuel Bowers and Elizabeth Dunster Bowers, English Quakers who had settled in America. When the Puritan persecution of Quakers became intolerable in the late seventeenth century, her parents sent Bowers and three of her sisters to live in Philadelphia, a city known for its liberality and its large Quaker population.

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Elizabeth Timothy

First Woman Editor-Publisher in America

Elizabeth Timothy ( or Timothee) is recognized as America’s first female newspaper editor and publisher, and one of the world’s first female journalists. She performed these roles with distinction, especially considering her other responsibilities as mother, homemaker and widow.

Louis Timothy and his family were among a group of French Huguenot immigrants from Rotterdam who arrived in Philadelphia aboard the ship Britannia of London in 1731. Named on the ship’s roster were Louis and four Timothy children: Peter, Louis, Charles, and Mary, ranging in age from 1 to 6. Although Elizabeth Timothy’s name was not on the roster, she undoubtedly accompanied the family.

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Hannah Penn

wife of William Penn

Wife of Pennsylvania Founder William Penn

On First Day (Sunday to non-Quakers), December 10, 1699, after eight difficult weeks at sea, Hannah Penn arrived in Philadelphia on board the Canterbury with her husband. While William Penn’s trusted secretary, James Logan, instructed dockworkers and servants to gather up crates of their belongings, Penn escorted Hannah, as she carefully made her way down the gangplank into his bustling “green country town.”

Hannah was pregnant and due to give birth to their first child in about a month. Twenty-six years old when she arrived in Philadelphia, Hannah was twenty-four years younger than her famous husband. Penn’s first wife, Gulielma Maria Springett, had died on February 24, 1694, leaving two surviving children.

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