The Humming Bird; or Herald of Taste (1798): Periodical Culture and Female Editorship in the Early American Republic
- American Periodicals: A Journal of History & Criticism
- The Ohio State University Press
- Volume 26, Number 1, 2016
- pp. 44-69
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Published in 1798, the Humming Bird; or Herald of Taste is the first American magazine known to be edited by a woman. This essay discusses the important role the Humming Bird plays in the history of women editors, as well as editorial practices in early Republican print culture and the professionalization of the early American magazine. Although there were several women’s magazines published during the early American Republic, these were edited by men and often included paternalistic advice to women about female conduct, marriage and family, religion, social reform, proper clothing styles, and appropriate leisure activities. The anonymous “lady editor” of the Humming Bird articulates an awareness of female agency in a way that male magazine editors of the period simply could not; thus, the lady editor’s position as ostensibly the first female editor of a magazine published during an era in which women’s voices were increasingly acknowledged as a vital part of the period’s dominant discourse inherently insists on women’s right to control their own voices in public.