Sarah Josepha Hale

Sarah Josepha Hale

Original Name Sarah Buell
Newport, Sullivan County, New Hampshire, USA
Death 30 Apr 1879 (aged 90)
Philadelphia, Philadelphia County, Pennsylvania, USA
Burial Philadelphia, Philadelphia County, Pennsylvania, USA
Plot Section X, Lot 61
Memorial ID 434 · View Source
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Journalist, Author. She is remembered as the ”Godmother of Thanksgiving Day," the lady who ardently pushed President Abraham Lincoln to have this celebration be recognized as a national holiday. In the early 1800’s Thanksgiving Day was being celebrated on different days throughout the nation, and she believed that unity was needed for all Americans to celebrate on the same day. During the Civil War in 1863, President Abraham Lincoln proclaimed the first national day of "Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father whodwellethin the Heavens," to be celebrated on the last Thursday in November. Each year, she continued to promote this celebration as a national holiday on this day. It was not until 78 years later that Congress passed a bill establishing that Thanksgiving Day would occur annually on the fourth Thursday of November, and on November 26, 1941 President Franklin Delano Roosevelt signed the bill into law. Her education consisted of being tutored at home by her brothers and studying their Dartmouth College textbooks. As a young woman, she became her hometown school teacher. The autobiographical foreword of her 1837 book “The Ladies‟ Wreath” documents her early life. She married a lawyer David Hale and had five children. After her husband’s sudden death from a stroke in 1822, she entered the millinery trade for a short time as she was a single mother trying to earn a salary. Her oldest child was age seven and the baby was born two weeks after her husband’s death. Starting her writing career, she anonymously penned the 1823 book “The Genius of Oblivion and Other Original Poems”, and in 1827 the novel “Northwood: A Tale of New England” which was published in Boston. In 1830, she wrote “Poems for Our Children” which included the poem “Mary’s Lamb,” which later became widely known as the nursery rhyme “Mary Had a Little Lamb.” She became a magazine editor for “Godey’s Lady’s Book” of Boston, which was the first magazine edited by a woman for women. When “Godey’s Lady’s Book” relocated to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, she did too staying with the magazine from 1837 to 1877. With a circulation of 150,000, the magazine's articles were mainly written by her focusing on feminine etiquette of the day. Over the decades, she continued to release works from a variety of genres: in 1848 “Three Hours” and “The Vigil of Love: and Other Poems”, and in 1850 “Women’s Record” and “Sketches of All Distinguished Women” which had multiple editions along with being credited as the first work to honor female writers. Although she did not support suffrage, she highly promoted girls being educated and entering professions such as teaching and even medicine. She helped establish the Emma Willard School in Troy, New York and finance Vassar College and campaigned for women to join the institution’s faculty. She published several cookbooks and children books. She retired at the age of 89 from the editorial and writing work that came to define and enrich her life.

Bio by: Linda Davis

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  • Maintained by: Find A Grave
  • Added: 31 Dec 2000
  • Find A Grave Memorial 434
  • Find A Grave, database and images ( : accessed ), memorial page for Sarah Josepha Hale (24 Oct 1788–30 Apr 1879), Find A Grave Memorial no. 434, citing Laurel Hill Cemetery, Philadelphia, Philadelphia County, Pennsylvania, USA ; Maintained by Find A Grave .