Mary Katherine Goddard was born in New London, Connecticut in 1783. She and her widowed mother moved to Providence Rhode Island where her brother William operated printing business. They helped him in his business but after her brother moved to Philadelphia, they wrote and edited the Providence Gazette and later West’s Almanack.
In 1768, they joined William in Philadelphia and Mary Katherine, her mother and William printed the Pennsylvania Chronicle until August 1773 when William moved to Baltimore. Mary Katherine sold the Philadelphia business and true to form, followed him to Baltimore. She became the sole proprietor of the Maryland Journal and Baltimore Advertiser.
During the American Revolution, the Maryland Journal was one of the most circulated in the colonies. To keep the paper financially afloat, Mary Kate offered bookbinding services and sold stationery and dry goods. Later, she accepted payment in kind when subscribers could no longer afford to buy the paper.
She was one of the first to write about the Battle of Lexington and Concord realizing that it was important to get the news out quickly. Relying on eyewitness accounts, letters and the news from other towns, she printed and sold the paper on the same day she received the information.
On July 4, 1776, fifty-six men met in Philadelphia to sign the Declaration of Independence. By August of that year all the patriot leaders had signed the document but no printer had the courage to print it. It was an act of treason and King George would hang anyone guilty of treason.
In December of 1776, the British marched into Philadelphia forcing the patriot leaders to flee south to Baltimore, Maryland. They carried with them a handful of written copies of the Declaration of Independence and they needed a printer.
Mary Katherine agreed to print it and proudly printed her name at the bottom of the document. She also paid the post riders to deliver it to the rest of the colonies.
Her accomplishments didn’t stop there. In August 1775, Mary Katherine became the first woman in America to hold the office of Postmistress of Baltimore and on January 18, 1777, Congress authorized her to print the first official issue of the Declaration of Independence. She died August 12, 1816.
Diamant, Lincoln, editor. Revolutionary Women in the War for American Independence, A One Volume Revised Edition of Elizabeth Ellet’s 1848 Landmark Series. Westport Connecticut: Praeger Publishers, 1998.
Greenberg, Judith E. and McKeever, Helen Cary. Journal of a Revolutionary War Woman. New York: Franklin Watts, 1996.
Micklos, John. The Brave Women and Children of the American Revolution. Berkeley Heights, NJ: Enslow Publishers, Inc, 2009
Freeman, Land M., North, Louise V and Wedge, Janet M. In the Words of Women: the Revolutionary War and the Birth of the Nation, 1765-1799. Landam, Md: Lexington Books, 2011.
Redmond, Shirley Raye. Patriots in Petticoats, Heroines of the American Revolution, New York: Random House, 2004
MATERIALS FOR THE PEN:
Scissors or utility knife
Fine sand paper
- Cut the tip of the feather with scissors or a utility knife (if using the knife, ask an adult to help you). Make sure the cut is clean. If it isn’t, work the tip back and forth on the sand paper.
- Remove the feathers. Now make the ink.
MATERIALS FOR THE INK:
Black, brown or blue gouache paint
Small glass jar
- Squeeze a small amount of paint in the bottom of the jar.
- Add a small amount of water and mix using the popsicle stick. Make sure the ink is the consistency of pancake batter.
- Dip the quill pen into the ink and begin writing! Use the quill and ink to write in your diary.