Hale Memorial Park

Learn the story of popular nursery song, Mary Had a Little Lamb

Sarah Josepha Hale Memorial Park, located in Newport, New Hampshire, honors one of its famous citizens. This park commemorates the life and work of Sarah Josepha Hale.

Sarah Josepha Buell was born on October 24, 1788 in Newport, New Hampshire. Her parents were Captain Gordon and Martha Buell. Education was important to Martha Buell, and she took it upon herself to educate her children.

Hall continued her mother’s work with education, even after she was married. She married David Hale (a lawyer), on October 23, 1813. He encouraged his wife in her educational pursuits, reading, and writing. The couple had five children, but tragically David Hale died from pneumonia on September 25, 1822. His friends helped the young widow open a millinery shop to help provide for her children. She did not enjoy working in the shop, but she continued in her writing. Northwood, her first novel, was published in 1827.

Reverend John Blake heard about the success of Sarah’s novel, and invited her to edit the Ladies Magazine in Boston. She accepted, moving to Boston with her youngest son. In addition to editing the magazine, she was involved in a number of civics projects. She believed men like her father (who fought in the American Revolutionary War) should be honored and remembered. She encouraged the readers of Ladies Magazine to contribute to the Bunker Hill Monument. The monument was completed in 1843.

During her life in Boston, she published collection of poems published. The collection included Mary’s Lamb (today known as Mary Had a Little Lamb). It was set to music in 1831, by Lowell Mason. She continued her advocacy for women, forming the Seamen’s Aid Society, to help improve the lives of sailors' wives and daughters.

Another magazine editor, Louis Godey saw the success of the Ladies Magazine. Reverend Blake reluctantly agreed to sell his magazine to Godey, who combined the two magazines. Hale became the editor for the Godey’s Lady Book.

In addition to her editing and local organization, Hale pursued the official recognition of Thanksgiving as a national holiday. In a letter she wrote:

"The Fourth of July is the exponent of independence and civil freedom. Thanksgiving Day is the national pledge of Christian faith in God, acknowledging him as the dispenser of blessings. These two festivals should be joyfully and universally observed throughout our whole country, and thus incorporated in our habits of thought as inseparable from American life.”

Hale appealed to President Abraham Lincoln, to make the last Thursday in November, a national day of Thanksgiving. President Lincoln issued a proclamation on October 3, 1863, granting her wish. Hale did not live to see Congress approve Thanksgiving as a national holiday in November 1941, when it signed in to law by Franklin Delano Roosevelt.

Hale's her influence decreased later in life, and Louis Godey decided to end the publication of Lady’s Book. She wrote her last editorial on December 31, 1877. She died on April 30, 1879, about two years after the Lady’s Book folded.


Sarah Josepha Hale Memorial Park

Hale Memorial Park - Outside of the Newport, NH Library | Creator: S.G. Magdaziara View File Details Page

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S.G. Magdziarz, “Hale Memorial Park,” Digital NH, accessed June 21, 2018, http://digitalnh.org/items/show/8.

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