Thursday, October 29, 2009

Exciting(?) News From the Past

So, faithful readers ("reader"? anyone?) are dying to know: who IS the historically significant, hitherto unknown woman I mentioned in my last post? Actually, really faithful readers will find the revelation to be old news, since I've mentioned her before in this space.

Her name was Eliza Anderson -- or, to be more complete, Eliza Crawford Anderson Godefroy, and she lived from 1780 to 1839. That she's unknown is probably self-evident, unless you're one of the handful of people who know about her. So, why is she historically significant? I think she may well have been the first woman to edit a magazine in the United States.

Perhaps this fact strikes you as something less than earth-shaking, and it surely won't require the rewriting of high school textbooks. But if you read through secondary source after secondary source, and they all identify someone ELSE as the first female magazine editor -- someone, that is, who came later -- you can find this tidbit of knowledge pretty exciting. At least, I can!

It's not just that Eliza was the first, of course. She edited her magazine in a pretty interesting way, and she had a pretty amazing -- if ultimately sad -- life. I'm currently working on a scholarly article about her, but it's a safe bet that very few people will ever read it. So I thought I might add, marginally, to the number of people who know about Eliza Anderson by occasionally posting some snippets about her here. If you're intrigued, please come back for more!

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