Her Name Was Mary Katharine: The Only Woman Whose Name Is on the Declaration of Independence by Ella Schwartz, illustrated by Dow Phumiruk

Published by Christy Ottaviano

Summary:  Mary Katharine Goddard grew up in the Connecticut colony with her parents and younger brother William.  Unlike most girls of the time, she learned to read and write alongside her brother.  When her father died, she and her mother moved to Providence, Rhode Island, while her brother served an apprenticeship as a printer.  He started several newspapers but had the unfortunate habit of abandoning them to move onto other endeavors.  Mary Katharine learned the business and took over the papers, first in Providence, then in Philadelphia, and finally in Baltimore.  When William started a new project, creating a postal service for the colonies, Mary Katharine took on additional responsibilities as postmaster of Baltimore.  She was known as a loyal patriot, so when the Continental Congress decided to print a copy of the Declaration of Independence with the names of the signers, they gave her the job.  Usually, Mary Katharine used the name M. K. Goddard for her printing work, but for the Declaration she used her full name, the only name of a woman to appear on the document.  Includes an author’s note, list of important terms with definitions, and a list of sources.  40 pages; grades 2-5.

Pros:  This is a great resource to add to American Revolutionary War units, featuring a little-known but fascinating woman who seems to have been way ahead of her time.  The author’s note gives lots of additional information, including the fact that Mary Katharine had an enslaved woman who helped her run her business (and to whom she granted freedom and left all her possessions when she died).  

Cons:  I saw this recommended for kids as young as 5, but the text-heavy story, small font, and need for some historical context make it a better choice for older kids.

March 16, 2022 at 04:09PM Janet Dawson