Hale To Thee, Blithe Spirit! Sarah Josepha's Soars Over The War

JPK Huson 1863

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hale bird.jpg

As female editor of THE most influential American women's magazine circulating through the years 1861-1865, Godey's Lady's Book, an image from those pages would be appropriate, representing Sarah Josepha Hale. It would be unfair, too, since it was only one facet of her influence on women and the war- over which this widow soared. To all our benefit.

SO odd. Sarah Joseph Hale, frequently consigned in Time to writing " Mary Had A Little Lamb " and, as an also ran- editing Godey's Ladie's Book was in fact one of the Blithest- of agile spirits the era knew. Thankfully. And yes, I know ' Hale ' is spelled poorly- it's on purpose. Shelley would understand.

Hail to thee, blithe Spirit!
Bird thou never wert,
That from Heaven, or near it,
Pourest thy full heart
In profuse strains of unpremeditated art


Really hard to over state her influence on an era- and a war. ( and yes, it's not a skylark in the image- just another songbird! )

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Hate to plunge into tragedy at the outset but a woman's magazine dedicated- we think-to fashion was an outreach. Sarah Hale reached women in a way no one could- disease ravaged our families. These informational ' Health ' sections, this one on Cholera ( common killer ) were in each issue of Godey's Lady's Book.

It's a pity our common denominator, the number reducing her to some level of communal understanding of Hale is creation of a simple child's tale. It should be her refusal to trail off to the poor house like a good, little widow, with 5 children, her use of an editorial wrecking ball, mopping up a sticky mess called " Godey's " and turning it into a social, parental, educational and moral force women referenced, nagging a President into picking a DAY, already, to glue this nation together post-Gettysburg, withstanding ridicule when jettisoning that pesky ' feminine seminary ' word, as Vassar was launched, championing education for women, lobbying hard for females as teachers and yes, despite a baffling legacy in 2017, using Godey's as a support to women during those long, awful, years.

Bios can make you go to sleep before the 3rd sentence so will not inflict hers- it's easily readable elsewhere anyway. It is impossible to have a thread entitled " U. Grant ", Abraham Lincoln ", R.E. Lee "- an overview at best. Intent here is to widen the scope on this hugely influential, unbelievably fascinating American. Threads just covering " How Sarah Convinced Lincoln To Please Stop Waffling ", would be separate, if a little funny, sorry.

As an example of growth, and Sarah's influence, Godey's Lady's book cover from 1849 was an image of ' Life ", you'll see.
cover 1849.jpg

Ouch! And oh dear! Sarah had already published a huge amount of books, was a substantive poet, social reformer on education and an as unheard of as it was- a female editor. Still, changing an ingrained social structure is awfully hard.

By 1861? Godey's Lady's Book featured a cover reflecting Sarah, her missions and women's thoughts.
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Really, really have no idea why she was accused- or is accused, in 2017 of dodging the war. She did not. Perhaps because she refused to side against Southern women- or any women, or with any, single group, she has paid for it 150 years later.
"Everything that contributes to bind us in one vast empire together, to quicken the sympathy that makes us feel from the icy North to the sunny South that we are one family, each a member of a great and free Nation, not merely the unit of a remote locality, is worthy of being cherished.” Sarah

Sarah's accomplishments were kept to herself. Using Godey's as a means to enrich other's lives, when Matthew Vassar the editor printed his achievement with warm praise. NO mention of her efforts and input. None. I'm not sure, in all I've read of her anyone has embraced how modest she must have been, goodness. And it was HUGE! Snips from Godey's Lady's Book. The only reason ' Vassar ' was not first called " Female Seminary " was Sarah Hale's ( strongggg ) objection. " Female ", she said, was silly. A girl's school did not require designation- it was a college for women. No need to stick more terms in the name. Matthew caved. We always knew the Vassar men had brains.
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Also odd, enough to make me a confirmed feminist of the rending one's garments ilk, the image of Sarah as an elderly woman used in so many article, Not that it matters- it's generally notable when females express this kind of unrestful stuff, it cannot come from the young, perfectly nice intellectual we know she was. Pretty funny.
hale.jpg

Terrific image. We love to romanticize anyone with sausage curls and lace- Sarah came from brainy stock, married more brains and was expected to use them. So she did. This is the portrait of an awfully strong, pretty, feminine, brainy mother, writer and business woman. Nice, right? Sarah supposedly did not support women's rights yet pushed very, very hard for education for girls, careers for women, especially in teaching, was hugely dismissive of how separate the ' feminine ' made women's colleges and was successful in truncating Vassar's name.
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SO struck, by these and hundreds ( or thousands ) of images- the overwhelming influence one woman had- if they were influenced by fashion, what else?


In the interests of brevity, would like to not overwhelm the thread. She was an overwhelming woman with an overwhelming influence on the era- if we but knew. IMO- is wildly overlooked because a. She did indeed refuse to belong to women's rights groups. b. She refused to allow her name to be drawn into any, high contention group. In 2017, this become synonymous with anti- women's rights and sometimes anti-abolition. Neither is true. Sarah Hale was a reformer. She was also famous, influential and had no interest in the far reaching consequences of strident revolution- Sarah Hale and the Dress Reform Movement?
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Look, as inane as it may be- a mother and wife could buy Godey's and make her own shoe- a shoe! Among the supposed frill, lace, bows and frivolous nonsense, Sarah Hale reached out to women in away no one else had done.

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As hysterical as these were- and over the top in design, Godey's included house designs- for women to choose, not men, as abodes. Cool stuff in the war years. Unsure if any of these are designated Historic Homes- or ever built. LOVE to see one!

You could mourn with other women, brew curative teas, make some very dreadful dolls your child would love anyway, learn how not to rise above an entire war, perform chemistry experiments ( no, really ) and escape for a few minutes into someone named Abijiya Beanpole's exotic adventures. That was just Godey's.
chem 5.JPG

Godey's!! Sarah just loved education!

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Well, and unslightly crafts- but you were productive, you know?

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In another thread, matched photos with Godey's Lady's Book- stunning stuff. Sarah Josepha Hale's influence was not merely taffeta-deep. It's incalculable, I'm sorry. With enough threads, may make Percy Shelley's lines make sense.
 

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JPK Huson 1863

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#2
Sarah Hale is so associated with ' Mary Had A Little Lamb ' her most famous literary achievement and just the fashion fluff evoked by the name " Godey's ", she's yet another whose History has been rewritten. It's a hazard, you know? There's an almost endless list of women through Civil War History we've managed to misread. Dr. Mary Walker, Mary Lincoln, Mary Custis Lee, Elizabeth Van Lew, Charlotte Forten, goodness, even Clara Barton.

I don't know. Their genuine lives and contributions, impacting this war are so much more interesting than all the myth floating around out there ( in taffeta over crinoline ). Love to hear anyone else's favorite myth, busted. You can't walk 3 feet into this era without tripping over several.
 

JPK Huson 1863

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#5
Thank you for sharing these image, Annie! The detail on those bonnets will be helpful for all, like me, who are designing their own period head gear.

You do that, too? I'm not kidding, it cannot be easy researching it or making those things!! Pages and pages and pages of bonnets, hats and nameless bits of lace they put on heads- fashions changed so quickly- BUT you'll see the same style worn through period photos for a decade, you know? Plus, what in blazes did they use, please? We have 100 varieties of glue! Guessing they sewed all the additions?

Sorry for all the questions. Been tooling around the old fashion magazines for a lot of years- these questions back up!
 
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#6
You do that, too? I'm not kidding, it cannot be easy researching it or making those things!! Pages and pages and pages of bonnets, hats and nameless bits of lace they put on heads- fashions changed so quickly- BUT you'll see the same style worn through period photos for a decade, you know? Plus, what in blazes did they use, please? We have 100 varieties of glue! Guessing they sewed all the additions?

Sorry for all the questions. Been tooling around the old fashion magazines for a lot of years- these questions back up!
No, they had no hot glue guns! They had to sew on the ribbons and lace. I'm guessing, but their flowers were probably real, and secured under ribbons which were sewn in such a way as to allow a flower tucked in them. I made my first bonnet recently without a pattern... not perfect by any means. See photo. More and more, the groups (mostly historical societies) who ask me to speak about the CW era, want me wearing the period attire. I have such events the next two Sunday afternoons hosted by historical societies in Guntersville and Chelsea, Alabama.
 

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