“They were in hopes of getting me tipsy.”

“They were in hopes of getting me tipsy.”

— Lavinia Goodell, Christmas 1869

Throughout her life, Lavinia Goodell enjoyed learning new things. In early 1868 she reported to her parents that she was studying German. Her instructor was a native German speaker, and she paid $20 for 25 one-hour weekly lessons.

In the fall of 1869, Lavinia decided that the best way to improve her German language skills would be to live with a German family, so she put an advertisement in the Staats-Zeitung German newspaper saying, “An American lady would like to find board in an educated and refined German family, for the purpose of learning the language. Minister’s family preferred.”  Lavinia received two responses and chose to rent a room at 228 East 23rd Street in New York. The move greatly shortened Lavinia’s commuting time to her job at Harper’s Bazar in lower Manhattan.

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Working at Harper’s Bazar

Working at Harper’s Bazar

What was it like for a woman to work at America’s first fashion magazine in the late 1860s? Follow this this blog, and you will find out. In family letters, Lavinia Goodell, Wisconsin’s future first female lawyer, provided detailed accounts of her day-to-day responsibilities as assistant editor at Harper’s Bazar and of her relationships with the famous Harper brothers.

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Present at the Creation: Harper’s Bazar

Present at the Creation: Harper’s Bazar

It’s true! Wisconsin’s first woman lawyer helped launch America’s first fashion magazine. In 1867, Harper & Brothers, a highly respected publisher, sought to expand its audience with the revolutionary Harper’s Bazar,* a weekly journal that reported on style, explained how to pin a bun, commented on work, family, and social mores, and published poetry and fiction from prestigious writers like Charles Dickens, George Eliot, and Thomas Hardy.  Lavinia Goodell was present at the creation.

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