November 26, 2013


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Sarah Josepha Hale

Sarah Josepha Hale (1778 – 1879)


Starting in 1846 and after lobbying 5 American Presidents, President Abraham Lincoln listened to Sarah’s recommendation to nationalize a day of giving thanks in 1863. Sarah’s ideal image of uniting a divided country by a Civil War struck a chord with Lincoln. Shortly after receiving the letter, the President proclaimed a national Thanksgiving Day to be observed on the last Thursday every November. Up until this time, each state did its own thing for Thanksgiving; some celebrating in October, some in December or January, and some states did not observe Thanksgiving at all. Although most states and Americans celebrated Thanksgiving on the 4th or 5th Thursday in November, it wasn’t until 1941, under President Franklin D. Roosevelt, did Congress pass the law and establish the last Thursday as the official national Thanksgiving Day. To read one of Sarah Josepha Hale’s editorials and a holograph of her letter to Abraham Lincoln, visit American Treasures of the Library of Congress.


Sharing characteristic traits of Martha Stewart, Emily Post, and Catherine Beecher, Sarah Josepha Hale is probably best characterized as a “Domestic Feminist” of her day.  Sarah Josepha Buell was born in 1778, in Newport, New Hampshire. Sarah’s father, Captain Buell, was a Revolutionary War veteran and her mother, Martha Whittlessey had a love of books and a deep commitment to basic education of women in order to educate family members. In those days, colleges were not open for women to attend. Sarah’s older brother, Horatio, attended Dartmouth College and tutored Sarah on the subjects he learned giving Sarah an equivalent college education. This unconventional schooling in higher education will ultimately be the foundation for Sarah’s future accomplishments in her life.


At the age of 18, from 1806 to 1813, Sarah taught private school for boys and girls during a time when women teachers were rare. Then….. Sarah met and married a young lawyer named David Hale.  Much like Catherine Beecher (advocate for women’s education and mother of the abolitionist Harriet Beecher Stowe), Sarah continued to stress the importance of women receiving equal education to men. In helping to establish Vassar College, Sarah knew education would allow women more economic opportunities.

Sarah Josepha Hale  Magazine EditorSarah Josepha Hale  writer

Sarah’s husband, David, encouraged Sarah’s thirst for writing. They started a literary club and were happy as clams reading and working together. In 1822, David Hale died suddenly (either of a stroke or pneumonia). They had 5 children and little money burdening Sarah with the title of “primary provider” for her children. Therefore, Sarah needed to work to support her family. The first published novel by a woman in America, Sarah Josepha Hale’s – “The Northwood, A Tale of New England”  was surprisingly successful. Along with writing poems, including the famed “Mary Had A Little Lamb”, Sarah was becoming the independent woman she wrote and taught about. Although Sarah never went so far as embracing the woman’s suffragette movement, she did believe woman had a moral superiority and should lead in areas of education and spirituality. Sarah can also be associated with Emily Post – the queen of etiquette and manners. Sarah wrote many articles on manners and the possibility of all Americans to take a high moral ground on general issues.


In 1836, and after a successful novel, Sarah Jospeha Hale was recruited as an editor for the magazine, Godey’s Lady’s Book. This magazine was very influential during the 19th century and reached a wide audience. With Sarah’s articles included, there were many published articles from other prominent writers on subjects of health, beauty, cooking, gardening and architecture. Sarah believed in women becoming doctors and using medicine knowledge to fight disease. Sarah knew the importance of exercise to keep healthy and wrote about it. She also wrote on eating healthy and gave beauty tips, although she did believe in dressing more simply than her European counterparts. Sarah loved to cook and used her recipes to promote a healthy family lifestyle for her reading audience. Sarah Josepha Hale remained editor of Godey’s Lady’s Book for 40 years, until it was sold in 1877, 2 years before she died. Some of our modern day feminism stems from small pre-curser bits of actions and writings from Sarah. Gloria Steinem (famous feminist and activist of the 1970’s) reminds me of the same longevity that Sarah Josepha Hale demonstrated in her editing career linking this likeness over a hundred year span. Co-founder of Ms. Magazine, Gloria Steinem, still remains as one of the original editors on the advisory board.

Sarah Josepha Hale  Recipe Book Sarah Josepha Hale  Apple Pudding Pie


Along with a homemaker’s guide called “The Good Housekeeper”, Sarah Josepha Hale wrote a cookbook called “Early American Cookery”.

In addition to the standard pumpkin pie, why not go back in time and try one of Sarah’s recipes. The simple flavors of yesteryear can be very comforting.


  • 6 very large green (granny smith) apples; peeled, cored and sliced
  • 1 lemon peel, cut into slices
  • 6 oz. (2/3 cup) or 1 cup for sweeter taste – brown sugar
  • 6 eggs, well beaten
  • 1 pint heavy whipping cream
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  • 2 – 9 inch uncooked pie crusts
  • Candied lemon peels for garnish (optional) or whip cream

Servings: Makes 2 pies – use ceramic or glass pie plates

Directions:  Place the sliced apples into a medium saucepan with 6 tablespoons of water and the lemon peel slices. Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer, and cover the pot. Let the apples cook for 25 – 30 minutes until apples are very soft. Remove the lemon peels from the pot and mash the apples while they are hot until they are smooth and have the consistency of applesauce.

Pour the mashed apples into a mixing bowl and allow the mixture to cool.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Stir in the brown sugar, beaten eggs, heavy whipping cream and lemon juice. Reserve filling.

Line 2 pie dishes with the uncooked pie crusts (use your favorite pie crust recipe). Hang enough of the crust over the edge of the plate to make a scrolled or fluted pie crust edge.

Pour an even amount of the apple mixture in both pie plates to make 2 pies.

Place the 2 pudding pies in the oven and bake 80 – 90 minutes, or until the pudding no longer wiggles in the center and is browning in places around the outer edge of the crust. A word to the wise: Err on the side of cooking it longer, rather than shorter. If the pudding is undercooked, it will turn out quite mushy.

NOTE: If the crust is browning faster than the pudding is baking, cover the outer edge of the crust with a layer of foil, leaving the pudding exposed in the center. There are outer edge crust covers on the market and come in handy at a time like this.

How  to  make  candied  lemon  peel

  • 1 Large organic lemon
  • 2  and 1/2  cups sugar

1.) Use a vegetable or potato peeler to remove the peel from the lemon in vertical strips. Try to remove only the yellow zest, avoiding as much of the white pith as possible. Save the lemon for another use.

2.) In a small saucepan,  combine the peels with 2 cups cold water. Bring to a boil and then drain off the  water. Again add 2 cups cold water, bring to a boil, and drain. Repeat the  process a third time, then remove the peels from the pan and set aside.

3.) Measure 2 cups of the sugar into the pan and add 1 cup water, whisking until the sugar dissolves. Add the peels and bring to a boil over medium heat. Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer, uncovered, until the peels are tender and translucent, about 10 to 15  minutes. Drain the peels and let cool.

4.) Measure the remaining 1/2  cup sugar into a medium bowl and add the peels. Toss to coat. Using a fork or your fingers, remove the peels one at time, gently shaking each to remove excess  sugar. Store in an airtight container. The peels will keep for several weeks.

Serve pudding pies just like you would serve a pumpkin pie; cold or at room temperature. Keep leftovers refrigerated 3 – 4 days.

“THANKS” to Sarah Josepha Hale we have a national holiday called Thanksgiving Day. On the last Thursday of every November all Americans can unite by giving “thanks” for all of our blessings. 

Happy Thanksgiving!





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