Women’s History Month – Hannah Adams

Hannah Adams (1755-1831) was the first recognized female United States historians.  Mostly ignored by the males of her time, and largely forgotten by history itself.
Like many women, she began life with many  multiple chronic illnesses.  As she recovered from them, she studied and learned all that she could.  She also learned from the boarders in her family home, and later used her knowledge to tutor the males in the village in foreign languages such as Latin and Greek.
Due to her childhood studies, she wrote a complex book comparing and contrasting the religious denominations that existed at the time.  Her reviews of religions would be valued as a snapshot of each religion at the time of its writing. In later years, these snapshots would prove more valuable, as recognition of theology changes were apparent.
Her writings were written about the same time as a male writer who wrote a similar treaty.  They began a feud, as she felt both works could not exist at the time without competing for readers.  At that time, this would have been more true, as books were printed, and expensive.
Hannah Adams is often reported to be the first American author, and female author, to make a living for a number of years from her writing.
Her writings, and teachings, led to greater understanding of the differences between women’s and men’s roles in society.  She was a distant cousin of John Adams, though she did not share Abigail or Louisa’s full women’s rights agenda, publicly anyway, she worked behind the scenes as an unmarried woman, and female writer to pave the way for future women writers.
Her works, and court cases against male authors who wanted to write on the same topic, led to the beginnings of copyright law in the US. However, today, most writers recognize that multiple authors can write on the same topic, and it won’t distract readers.
Much like writers today, she continually updated works with new information.  Also, predating the computer age, she recognized that school children needed works in smaller bite sized pieces, and split them up into easy to comprehend works that would prepare children to better understand the full text at a later age.

Works Cited: All Accessed on 02/23/17

http://womenshistory.about.com/od/earlyamerwomen/fl/Hannah-Adams.htm
http://www.bostonathenaeum.org/library/book-recommendations/athenaeum-authors/hannah-adams

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