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Rare Book and Special Collections Division



The Domestic Sphere
arrow graphicPeriodicals
Children's Literature
Advice Books
Finding Rare Children's Books
Religion and Spirituality
Reform Efforts
Women in Popular Culture
Collections Formed by Women
Literary Works



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Frontispiece engraving. Thackara & Vallance. From The Lady's Magazine; and Repository of Entertaining Knowledge (Philadelphia, 1792; AP2.A2 L2). Rare Book and Special Collections Division.

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Magazines and newspapers designed for a female audience in the nineteenth century give today's reader insight into the concerns and expectations of women at that time. For the most part, the primary audience for these publications was middle-class white women. The Rare Book and Special Collections Division holds a sampling of these publications with titles ranging from the Domestic Monthly to the Revolution .

Traditional women's magazines in the collection include the first of this genre published in the United States, the Lady's Magazine, and Repository of Entertaining Knowledge (Philadelphia, 1792-93; AP2.A2 L2) .

A sampling of early nineteenth-century titles includes the Ladies' Weekly Museum , or, Polite Repository of Amusement and Instruction (New York: J. Oram, 1814-18; AP2.L22), the Ladies Garland (Harper's Ferry, Va., 1824-26; AP2.L13) [catalog record], the Ladies Companion (New York: W. W. Snowden, 1834-44; AP2.L11) , and the Bower of Taste (Boston, 1828-30; AP2.B842) , which was edited by Katharine Augusta Ware (1797-1843). Sarah Josepha Hale (1788-1879), who did not support the women's rights movement but was a strong advocate for the education of women and for women joining the teaching profession, edited the American Ladies' Magazine (Boston: Putnam & Hunt, 1828-36; AP2.A343) and, later, Godey's Lady's Book (Philadelphia, 1830-98; AP2.G56) .

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Miscellaneous advertisements. From Godey's Lady's Book and Magazine (February 1893; AP2.G56). Rare Book and Special Collections Division.

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For the most part, these publications reinforced the domestic sphere as the world for women. They offered advice, covered fashion news, instructed in child care, and promoted etiquette. They included book reviews, human interest news, and short stories and serial fiction, generally of an uplifting, edifying nature.

The advertisements in such periodicals can be as enlightening as the text. The products that were available and how they were pitched to readers offer strong indications about self-image, ongoing concerns, and the everyday lives of the readership. An advertisement in Godey's Lady's Book for March 1893 advises: “You should smoke not poisonous tobacco but Marshall's prepared cubeb cigarettes. The most pleasant and sure remedy ever offered [for] catarrh, hay fever, cold in the head, asthma, etc.” In the same issue an advertisement for “Doctor” Warner's corsets asserts that “the Coraline we use is superior to whalebone and absolutely unbreakable.”

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