Elizabeth A. Sackler Center for Feminist Art: The Dinner Party: Heritage Floor: Mary Goddard

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Petition of Mary Katherine Goddard, January 29, 1790. National Archives and Records Administration, Washington, D.C.

Mary Goddard
b. 1738, Groton, Connecticut; d. 1816, Baltimore

Working in partnership with her mother and brother, Mary Goddard printed and published newspapers in Providence, Philadelphia, and Baltimore. She got her start in her brother's printing business in Providence; when he moved on to Philadelphia, Mary and her mother operated the press themselves, publishing the Providence Gazette from 1766 until 1768, when they joined William at his new business in Philadelphia. There, they published the Pennsylvania Chronicle until 1773, when the extremely restless William again relocated, this time to Baltimore. Mary soon followed (her mother had died) and took over editorship and publication of Williams' new paper, the Maryland Journal. By mid-1775, she had assumed full credit on the masthead and kept the paper going throughout the years leading up to and after the Revolution. In 1777, she was chosen by the Continental Congress to print the first copy of the Declaration of Independence with the signers' names. Meanwhile, in 1775, she had been appointed postmaster of Baltimore, probably the first woman in America to hold this position. In addition, the indefatigible Goddard started a bookbinding and bookstore. But as Mary's fortunes rose, Williams' declined; in 1784, he seized control of the newspaper and publicly maligned her. Then, in 1789, she was replaced as postmaster against much public outcry. She continued to run her bookstore until around 1810.

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