Godey’s Lady’s Book: Fashion Bible

Medicine Creek Claim includes several mentions of Godey’s Lady’s Book, but I also referenced this 19th-century “fashion bible” for my earlier books.

Godey’s is a treasure trove for historical fiction authors. From 1830 to 1898, Godey’s was the premier women’s magazine of its time. Louis Godey, a publisher in Philadelphia, PA, established the magazine.

I purchased a digital issue of Godey’s in order to “paint a picture” of the dresses that Charlotte and Lizzy wore. Shopkeeper Isabell Vaughn also subscribed to Godey’s. She pulled out the latest issue to help Charlotte select a dress and then sold Charlotte the fabric to sew that dress.

While Godey’s is remembered today for its “fashion plates” – the magazine also published works by some of the most celebrated authors of its time. Readers enjoyed poetry, fiction, and essays by Nathaniel Hawthorne, Edgar Allan Poe, Harriet Beecher Stowe and more.

The magazine gained prominence when Louis Godey purchased the Boston publication Ladies’ Magazine in 1837. Sarah Josepha Hale, the editor of Ladies’ Magazine, joined Godey’s staff. Hale bought a commitment to publishing materials that would appeal to its female readership. With Hale as editor and a predominantly female workforce, Godey’s Lady’s Book became the premier women’s magazine of the 1800s.