William Goddard borrowed money from his mother in order to set up a printing business, which produced the Providence Gazette and Country Journal. However, William spent most of his time travelling so it was his mother who operated and ran the print shop. Mary was 24 years old when she too began to take an interest in the family company and she began working with her mother as a typesetter, printer and journalist (“National Women’s History Museum”).
In 1765 William decided to move to Philadelphia and opened another print shop there. Mary and their mother followed him and helped him to publish the Philadelphia Chronical and Universal Advertiser. When Mary was 32 their mother passed away, and even though the publication was in her brother’s name, Mary was the one who ran the shop alone while he was travelling. Under her care it became one of the biggest print shops in the area (“National Women’s History Museum”).
After only having the Philadelphia shop for nine years, William decide he wanted to move again, and in 1773 he went to Baltimore and established Baltimore’s first newspaper the Maryland Journal. A year later Mary closed their Philadelphia shop and followed her brother to Baltimore (“Mary Katherine Goddard”, 2001). As with all the times before, Mary controlled and cared for their business for her brother, this time he was distracted and working towards his political aspirations (“National Women’s History Museum”). Even though Mary was doing all the work, her brother was getting the official credit. During this time is was incredibly difficult for women to establish themselves as serious writers or printers of any kind. But she continued to work because it was the job she loved, even if she was not credited for it.
But, in 1775 that all began to change. First, on the May 10th issue of the Maryland Journal, the colophon read that it was published by M.K Goddard (“Mary Katherine Goddard”, 2001). She likely published under the pseudonym because it would not have been very acceptable at the time for a woman to be publishing, and by writing under a name that could pass for a man’s it kept people interested. That same year that Mary began to publish under her own name, she also was given the honour of being the first female postmaster in America (“Mary Katherine Goddard”, 2001). As Chris Young describes she became the “center of the information exchange,” (Qtd. In: “National Women’s History Museum”). With this position she was not only printing her own newspapers and the other works, but also had influence in the mail service, which is why she functioned as a communication hub. Her abilities as a postmaster and a printer meant that she could publish information quickly and was often informed of things before her competitors. This ability to send and receive information quickly gave her an edge during the American Revolution. Where many printers missed days and had delayed information, Mary was able to print continuously, never missing an issue between 1775 and 1784 (“National Women’s History Museum”).
Image Source: National Women’s History Museum. (n.d.). Retrieved April 01, 2016, from https://www.nwhm.org/education-resources/biography/biographies/mary-katherine-goddard/
Mary Katherine Goddard, Maryland Women’s Hall of Fame. (2001). Retrieved April 01, 2016, from http://msa.maryland.gov/msa/educ/exhibits/womenshall/html/goddard.html
National Women’s History Museum. (n.d.). Retrieved April 01, 2016, from https://www.nwhm.org/education-resources/biography/biographies/mary-katherine-goddard/