ABSTRACT

Historical society archives and libraries in the early United States often appear as strictly masculine spaces in which few, if any, women had access and influence. Although scholarship tends to depict these archives and the historical narratives that they promoted in this light, women found a range of ways to engage with these institutions between the American Revolution and the Civil War. Sarah Josepha Hale (1788–1879), prior to her emergence as the most influential magazine editor in the antebellum United States, demonstrates this in her mostly neglected early poem, “Genius of Oblivion” (1823). Through the analysis of her unexamined personal correspondence with New Hampshire librarian Jacob Bailey Moore and a closer reading of her poetry, this article illuminates Hale’s use of her social network to access library materials and engage through poetry with the scholarship of contemporary male authors.

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