The Godey’s Lady’s Book was a primary resource for women of the nineteenth century to obtain the latest news on fashion, education for women, literature, and housekeeping. Founded in 1830 by Louis A. Godey, the magazine flourished immediately after publication with the help of editor Sarah Hale. The presence of a female editor made women feel empowered, encouraging women to continue buying edition after edition of the Lady’s Book.
The defining elements of the Lady’s Book are the fashion plates featured in every issue. Each plate is drawn by hand, employing around 150 illustrators for one issue. The fashion plates are hand tinted, and embellished with copper and steel in publication. These fashion plates were the main method women used to keep up to date with the latest fashions.
Apart from informing women of the latest fashion trends of the nineteenth century, Godey’s Lady’s Book also aimed to educate their subscribers. The magazine began to feature literary articles from prestigious writers such as Edgar Allen Poe and Ralph Waldo Emerson. Hale also went so far as to feature articles providing the reader with advanced writing technique.
From the elaborate hand drawn covers of the magazines to the intellectual content found inside, it is clear the Godey’s Lady’s Book is more than just a fashion journal. It was a valuable resource nineteenth century women turned to for advice in various areas of their lives. The magazine empowered women to have a stronger role in society, while also making sure their wardrobes reflected the latest trends.
In 1877, Louis Godey made the decision to sell the magazine. Sarah Hale retired as editor in that same year. Twenty-one years later, in 1898, publication of the magazine was discontinued and the sixty-eight year reign of Godey’s Lady’s Book came to an end.
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Unidentified Artist, . From Godey’s Ladies’ Book: Godey’s Unrivalled Colored Fashions. 1855. Ackland Art Museum, Chapel Hill, NC. Web. 2 Nov. 2013.
Unidentified Artist, . From Godey’s Ladies’ Book: Godey’ S Fashions for January 1869. 1869. Ackland Art Museum, Chapel Hill, NC. Web. 25 Nov. 2013.
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