Colonial newspaper founded by a woman… A rare find…

October 31, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

A recent collection which came into our inventory included a rare title which didn’t strike me until I looked more closely.

Salem Gazette” is a somewhat common from the 18th century so I wasn’t surprised to see the title when quickly examining the collection. But then I noticed the date from the Revolutionary War, which I thought odd. Upon investigation I found there were actually four different newspapers titled “Salem Gazette“, one from 1774-1775, one from 1781-85, and one from 1790 thru the 19th century. These latter two are were quite familiar to me, but our issue was yet a fourth title, one which I had never encountered in 35 years, and this one lasted but 36 issues during the year 1781. But of greater significance was that the masthead noted it was published by a woman, Mary Crouch. See the hyperlink for much more on her fascinating life, but suffice it to say she was no stranger to publishing a newspaper as she had much experience in South Carolina.

The hyperlinked article mentions she took over the publication of her husband’s (Charles) “South Carolina Gazette” after he died in 1772. She then began her own newspaper, the “Charlestown Gazette“, in August of 1778.  When the British occupied her town in 1780, being a staunch patriot, she moved north to Salem, Massachusetts, where she began publishing this “Salem Gazette” in 1781. The number we have is dated  February 6, 1781 and is issue number 6 of the 36 published (see the hyperlink). Relatively few institutions hold any issues of this title, and only four issues of this date are held by institutions.

There were a number of women who published newspapers in the 18th century & virtually all that I could discover did so by continuing a printing business upon the demise of their respective husbands. One exception was Mary Goddard who published the “Maryland Journal” during her brother’s absence from 1774-1783. But Anne Catherine Green took over her late husband’s “Maryland Gazette” upon his death in 1767; Hannah Watson took over her husband’s (Ebenezer) “Connecticut Courant” upon his death in 1777; Margaret Draper took over the “Massachusetts Gazette” upon the death of her husband Richard in 1774; Clementine Rind took over “The Virginia Gazette” in 1773 when her husband William died; and Ann Franklin published the “Newport Mercury” upon the death of her son James in 1762. I am sure there are others as well.

From what I could determine Mary Crouch may well be the first American woman to create a newspaper, and she did so twice. Her first being the “Charlestown Gazette” and her second the “Salem Gazette“. Any research to the contrary would be gratefully received and shared with our fellow collectors.