7 minutes | Feb 2, 2021

The Powerful Woman Behind 'Mary Had a Little Lamb'

“Mary had a little lamb…” Be honest. Did you go, “little lamb” again after you read that? Those five words are so catchy, they were the first words Thomas Edison ever recorded in the phonograph (making them the first words ever recorded on a machine). Not only that, but they were also some of the first words Alexander Graham Bell spoke into the telephone! It’s astonishing to me that a mere century (or so) after her death, Sarah Josepha Hale — the creator of this nursery rhyme — has faded into obscurity. It would be one thing if her accomplishments had also faded, but we’re still hugely impacted by her legacy. And I’m not just talking about ‘Mary Had a Little Lamb.’ In fact, if you’d asked Sarah to list what she was most proud of, “Mary had a little lamb” probably wouldn’t even make the first page! The only reason I know about this woman is that I’m lucky to be (very) loosely related to her. But it got me thinking, how many other stories of remarkable women have been forgotten? In episode 70 of the Vocabbett podcast, I share the (very abbreviated) story of Sarah Josepha Hale in a new “Forgotten Women” mini-series. I’m still boosting your vocabulary throughout; I’m just finding new, fun stories to incorporate while doing it! : ) You can listen to the podcast for free on your favorite player, and I’ve included a sneak peek of the members’-only podcast accompaniment below. Become a Vocabbett member to watch the whole video if you haven’t already!
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