National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution; gift of Robert L. McNeil, Jr.
Sarah Josepha Buell Hale was a thirty-four-year-old New Hampshire housewife when her husband died suddenly, leaving her with five small children to support. Putting her literary propensity to use, she published poetry and a novel. In 1828 she was offered the editorship of the Boston-based Ladies' Magazine (the first American periodical planned exclusively for women) and in 1837 was installed as literary editor of Louis Godey's Lady's Book. Hale promised her readers "literary excellence and artistic beauty, still keeping the moral tone onward and upward." A strong advocate for increased educational opportunities for women (within the accepted female sphere), Hale proclaimed that woman in the nineteenth century stood "side by side with man, a help-meet for him in all his pursuits and improvements."