Hale, Sarah Josepha [Buell] (1788-1879)

Editor and champion of women’s education

Born in Newport, New Hampshire, educated at home, and married in 1813, Hale was widowed nine years later with five children to raise. In 1828 she moved to Boston to edit the Ladies’ Magazine, the first substantial magazine in the United States for women. It was merged ten years later with Louis Godey’s Lady’s Book, and she relocated to Philadelphia in 1841, since Godey’s offices were there. With a circulation that reached 150,000 in the 1860s, the journal she edited set the standards of progressive feminism. A supporter of the Female Medical School of Pennsylvania (1850), she was also a supporter and served as secretary of the Ladies’ Medical Missionary Society (1851), which merged with the Woman’s Union Missionary Society in 1860. During the 1860s Hale headed the Philadelphia branch of the latter. A constant advocate of women’s education, she urged that women be trained as medical doctors to deal with feminine needs at home and in the work of overseas missions.

Robert T. Coote, “Hale, Sarah Josepha (Buell),” in Biographical Dictionary of Christian Missions, ed. Gerald H. Anderson (New York: Macmillan Reference USA, 1998), 274-5.

This article is reprinted from Biographical Dictionary of Christian Missions, Macmillan Reference USA, copyright © 1998 Gerald H. Anderson, by permission of Macmillan Reference USA, New York, NY. All rights reserved.


For a descriptive bibliography of complete works, consult “Sarah J. Hale.” Bibliography of American Literature. Comp. Jacob Blanck. Vol. 3. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1959, 319-40.

Each of the twelve monthly issues of Godey’s Lady’s Book for 1864 is available at the Internet Archive.

Digital Texts

Hale, Sarah Josepha Buell. The Genius of Oblivion; and Other Original Poems. By a Lady of New-Hampshire. Concord, NH: Jacob B. Moore, 1823.

__________. Sketches of American Character. Fourth edition. Boston: Freeman Hunt, 1831.

__________. Flora’s Interpreter, Or The American Book of Flowers and Sentiments. Boston: Marsh, Capen & Lyon, 1832.

_____. Traits of American Life. Philadelphia, PA: E. L. Carey & A. Hart, 1835.

_____ (ed.). The Ladies’ Wreath: A Selection from the Female Poetic Writers of England and America. Boston; New York: Marsh, Capen & Lyon; D. Appleton & Co., 1837.

_____. The Good Housekeeper, Or the Way to Live Well, and to be Well While We Live. Containing Directions for Choosing and Preparing Food, in Regard to Health, Economy and Taste. Boston: Weeks, Jordan and Co., 1839.

_____. The Wise Boys: or, The Entertaining Histories of Fred. Forethought, Matt. Merrythought, Luke Lovebook, and Ben. Bee. New York: Edward Dunigan, [c. 1842].

_____. “Boarding Out.”: A Tale of Domestic Life. New York: Harper & Brothers, 1846.

_____. Three Hours: Or, The Vigil of Love: and Other Poems. Philadelphia, PA: Carey & Hart, 1848.

_____ (ed.). Aunt Mary’s New Stories for Young People. Boston and Cambridge: James Munroe & Co., 1849.

_____(ed.). The Poet’s Offering for 1850. Philadelphia, PA: Grigg, Elliot, and Co., 1850.

_____. Liberia, Or Mr. Peyton’s Experiments. New York: Harper & Brothers, 1853.

_____. Woman’s Record; or, Sketches of All Distinguished Women, from “the beginning” till A.D. 1850. Arranged in Four Eras. With Selections from Female Writers of Every Age. New York: Harper and Bros., 1853.

_____. The Bible-Reading Book: Containing Such Portions of the History, Biography, Poetry, Prophecy, Precepts, and Parables of the Old and New Testaments, as Form a Connected Narrative, in the Exact Words of Scripture, and in the Order of the Sacred Books, of God’s Dealings with Man, and Man’s Duties to God. Prepared for the Young in Schools and Families. Philadelphia, PA: Lippincott, Grambo & Co., 1854.

_____. Modern Household Cookery: A New Work for Private Families; Containing a Great Variety of Valuable Receipts; With Directions for the Preparation of Food for Invalids and for Children, etc., etc. By a Lady. London: T. Nelson and Sons, 1854.

_____. Mrs. Hale’s Receipts for the Million: Containing Four Thousand Five Hundred and Forty-Five Receipts, Facts, Directions, Etc. in the Useful, Ornamental, and Domestic Arts, and in the Conduct of Life. Being a Complete Family Directory. Philadelphia, PA: T. B. Petersen, 1857.

_____ (ed.). A Complete Dictionary of Poetical Quotations: Comprising the Most Excellent and Appropriate Passages in the Old British Poets; with Choice and Copious Selections from the Best Modern British and American Poets. Philadelphia, PA: J. B. Lippincott & Co., 1859.

_____. Manners; Or, Happy Homes and Good Society All the Year Round. Boston: J. E. Tilton and Company, 1868.

_____ (ed.). The Letters of Lady Mary Wortley Montagu. Boston: Roberts Brothers, 1869.

_____. Lessons from Women’s Lives. London: William P. Nimmo, 1877.

_____. Mercedes, a Story of Mexico. Louisville, KY: Baptist Book Concern, 1895.


Boyd, Anne E. Wielding the Pen: Writings on Authorship by American Women of the Nineteenth Century. Baltimore, MD: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2009.

Entrikin, Isabelle Webb. Sarah Josepha Hale and “Godey’s Lady’s Book.” Philadelphia: printed by Lancaster Press, 1946.

Estes, Glenn E. American Writers for Children before 1900. Detroit, MI: Gale Research Co., 1985.

Finley, Ruth. The Lady of Godey’s, Sarah Josepha Hale. Philadelphia and London: J.B. Lippincott Company, 1931. Also New York: Arno Press, 1974.

Fryatt, Norma R. Sarah Josepha Hale: The Life and Times of a Nineteenth-Century Woman. New York: Hawthorn Books, 1975.

Harper, Judith E. Women During the Civil War: An Encyclopedia. New York: Routledge, 2004.

Hill, Ralph Nading. “Mr. Godey’s Lady.” American Heritage 9 no. 6 (October 1958).

Howard, Angela. For the Improvement of My Sex: Sarah Josepha Hale’s Editorship of Godey’s Lady’s Book, 1837-1877. Ann Arbor, MI: University Microfilms International, 1981.

James, Edward T., et al (eds.). Notable American Women: 1607-1950; a Biographical Dictionary. Cambridge, MA: Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 1971.

Mott, Frank Luther. A History of American Magazines. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1968.

Myerson, Joel. The American Renaissance in New England. Detroit, MI: Gale Research Co., 1978.

Okker, Patricia. Our Sister Editors: Sarah J. Hale and the Tradition of Nineteenth-century American Women Editors. Athens, GA: University of Georgia Press, 1995.

Poe, Edgar Allen. “Review of Alice Ray; a romance in rhyme, by Mrs. Sarah Josepha Hale ….” Broadway Journal 2 no. 17 (Nov. 1, 1845): 256-7.

Riley, Sam G. American Magazine Journalists, 1741-1850. Detroit, MI: Gale Research Co., 1988.

Rogers, Sherbrooke. Sarah Josepha Hale, A New England Pioneer. Grantham, NH: Tompson & Rutter, 1985.

Scott, Ernest L. “Sarah Josepha Hale’s New Hampshire years, 1788-1828.” Historical New Hampshire 49 no. 2 (Summer 1994): 58-96.

Sewell, Edward H. , Jr. Sarah Josepha Hale: (24 October 1788-30 April 1879). Detroit, MI: Gale Research Co., 1988.

Taketani, Etsuko. “Postcolonial Liberia: Sarah Josepha Hale’s Africa.” American Literary History 14 no. 3 (2002): 479-504.

Tonkovich, Nicole. Domesticity with a Difference: The Nonfiction of Catharine Beecher, Sarah J. Hale, Fanny Fern, and Margaret Fuller. Jackson: University Press of Mississippi, 1997.

Woodward, Helen. The Lady Persuaders. New York: I. Oboloensky, 1960.

Hope Greenberg, “Godey’s Lady’s Book: Sarah Josepha Hale,” University of Vermont, 2001. Includes links to sample excerpts of Godey’s Lady’s Book and related materials.

Lisa Niles, “Domestic Goddesses: Sarah Josepha Hale,” University of Central Oklahoma, 2003.


Public domain. Accessed via Wikimedia Commons. Source: Richard’s Free Library, Newport, New Hampshire, USA. Painted by James Reid Lambdin (1807-1889).