When Missouri T.B. Hanna purchased the Edmonds Review newspaper in 1905, men who owned the local mills weren’t impressed. They even mocked her for stepping out of a traditional women’s role to take on such a job.
While I certainly believe that much has changed in 112 years, the truth is that journalism is still a male-dominated industry. Women make up more than half the population, yet they report 37 percent of the stories in print news and 42 percent of the stories on the Internet. That’s according to a report, “The Status of Women in the U.S. Media 2015”.
Hanna addressed her critics in an introductory column she wrote for the Review in 1906: “We think we have sufficient nerve to run a local paper, and so we’ll try saying ‘How do you do’ all by ourselves,” she wrote. “A newspaper is part of a city, and so readers should help it along. Read it, criticize it, help pay for it, but don’t kill it.”
Hanna was more than a journalist. She was also a champion for women’s right to vote, and she was a real estate developer. She purchased a tract of land on which she would build her home, just north of today’s Caspers Street. She offered several lots for sale, advertising that they offered “high upland, tide lands, good views, fine soil, clam beds and a bathing beach.” The neighborhood, known as Hanna Park, still exists today.
She ran the Review until 1910, when she sold it to the rival Edmonds Tribune. She then focused on efforts to promote women’s suffrage, publishing a monthly magazine Votes for Women. Writing for The Snohomish County Women’s Legacy Project, historian Charles P. LeWarne said that Hanna’s Votes for Women “described the strides toward suffrage being taken in Washington and elsewhere. Articles recounted both international and national events and personalities, as well as happenings in the state including its smallest towns.
The Washington State Historical Society noted that “Washington women’s success in 1910 helped inspire the campaign that culminated in passage of the 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution in 1920, when women won the right to vote nationally.”
Hanna died June 14, 1926 at age 69, at “Fern Rest,” her Hanna Park home. “Upon her death, Missouri Hanna was heralded in both Edmonds and Seattle newspapers as the ‘Mother of Journalism’ in Washington State, honoring her early and lengthy role in a profession traditionally dominated by males,” LeWarne noted.
I wanted to highlight Missouri T.B. Hanna here for a couple of reasons: First, I had heard her name in passing but really didn’t pay that much attention to her achievements until the My Edmonds News team began discussing what scarecrow to build for this year’s Edmonds Historical Museum Scarecrow Festival. I began researching Hanna’s life and work, and was blown away by her accomplishments. I suggested that she become our “historical” scarecrow.
Arts writer Emily Hill took the lead in researching the dress of the era, bought a pattern and went to work on the scarecrow design. Ad sales person Kathy Hashbarger and restaurant writer Kathy Passage assisted in putting together the pieces. Larry Vogel pitched in to escort our finished scarecrow to the top of the Edmonds Museum steps, where she is displayed for all to see. (Or, depending on the weather, she may be just inside the museum door.)
And now on to the second reason for highlighting Missouri Hanna. Throughout my journalism career, with a few notable exceptions, the owners of news organizations where I have worked have been male. Ditto for most of the top managers. And for that matter, the majority of my co-workers. When I started My Edmonds News eight years ago, I remembered thinking there was no way I would have EVER thought it possible for me to own and operate a news organization.
Yet, here I am.
When Missouri Hanna purchased the Edmonds Review, not only were women not in the news business, they couldn’t even vote.
I am grateful to her for her courage and her legacy.
Until next time,
Teresa Wippel, publisher
P.S. Remember to cast your vote for your favorite Edmonds scarecrows here.
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