History 351: A Primary Source Packet

The following is the top page to a packet of materials from Godey's Lady's Book that I put together for the class. Its purpose was to provide a look at mid-nineteenth century culture.

A Sampler

Begun by Louis A. Godey in 1830, Godey's Lady's Book was published until 1898. In 1837 Godey invited Mrs. Sarah J. Hale, publisher and editor of the Boston-based Ladies magazine to become editor of the Lady's Book. By the eve of the Civil War the magazine had earned a circulation of an estimated 150,000 subscribers. Godey sold the magazine and Hale retired as editor in 1877. It passed through several hands and faded into obscurity.

This sampler contains selections drawn from the Lady's Book during the years 1855 1858. Each monthly issue of the Lady's Book contained:
- a color fashion plate (1 page)
- one or more engravings (2-4 pages)
- fashion items, accessories, and needlework items (8-10 pages)
- one piece of sheet music (2 pages)
- one or more pieces of non-fiction (5-10 pages)
- several pieces of short fiction, some serialized (approx. 40 pages)
- poetry (3-4 pages)
- clothing patterns and instructions for home decor items (8-12 pages)
- a recipe section (2-4 pages)
- the Editors' Table (Mrs. Hale's editorials) (3-6 pages)
- Literary Notices (synopses of recommended reading) (2-4 pages)
- Godey's Arm-Chair (comments from the publisher) (4-6 pages)
- Centre-Table Gossip (household hints, poetry, notes, etc.) (2-4 pages)
- description of fashions (1-3 pages)

In addition, individual issues might contain drawing instruction, a series titled "Chemistry for the Young," architectural drawings, and a health department.

The magazine showcased American writing talent, particularly female authors. Hale was a strong proponent of women's education, though not a suffragist.

More information about Godey's Lady's Book as well as a growing collection of selections from it can be found on the Web at:

This file is part of Hope Greenberg's graduate portfolio for the course History 351. Created 24 March 1997.