Bad news: the childhood home of Sarah Josepha Hale was burnt down by a pair of idiots over the weekend. Because some people apparently have a thing against lil’ lambies and Thanksgiving.
Sarah Josepha Hale is best known as the author of “Mary Had a Little Lamb” — one of the few well-known nursery rhymes that have a traceable author — but she was also one of those 19th-century Superwomen who still consistently put me In Awe.
- She was the editor of Godey’s Lady’s Book — THE women’s magazine of 19th-century America — for forty years. (Imagine taking Vogue, Good Housekeeping and Popular Mechanics and rolling them into one publication. And then making it the only periodical available to most women of the rural U.S.)
- She spent DECADES involved in a letter-writing/lobbying campaign to get Thanksgiving declared a national holiday.
- AND . . . she had five children. Five!
There’s also a little something about the creation of the Bunker Hill Monument being attributed to her, but whatever. Superwoman.
I confess, when I first learned about her life in my children’s lit. history course in library school, Hale immediately became one of my personal historical role-models. She gave us a song that all children can satirize on the playground with glee (“. . . and then she had a little more”) AND made it acceptable to have an entire holiday which revolves around gorging and sleeping.
For further reading: Check out Laurie Halse Anderson’s Thank You, Sarah: the Woman Who Saved Thanksgiving from your local library and give it a whirl. The nutty illustration of the sad football player is worth the price of admission alone.