"Covers Dixie Like the Dew"

A History of Newspaper Journalism in Georgia

Georgia Newspaper Pioneer Sarah Porter Hillhouse

There are no recorded female editors or publishers in the first forty years of newspaper journalism in Georgia. Women were largely discouraged and often outlawed from operating businesses in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. However, an exception was sometimes made for women who were widowed without a male heir to run their deceased husband’s affairs. It was under this set of circumstances that, at the turn of the nineteenth century, Sarah Porter Hillhouse broke Georgia’s print journalism gender barrier. In 1801, Sarah’s husband David purchased Washington's first newspaper, the Washington Gazette, retitling it the Monitor. After David’s death in 1803, Sarah continued publishing the paper, becoming the first woman to serve as a publisher and editor of a newspaper in the state’s history. Her four-page, four-column weekly was characteristic of the time, with reprinted national and international news, state laws, and local ads. During her tenure, she built a professional reputation that earned her government contracts from the capital in Louisville to print legislative documents. By 1813, after nearly a decade of publishing the Monitor, Hillhouse had passed publishing responsibilities of the paper to her son, David. Sarah Porter Hillhouse was one of only a handful of women in the early history of the United States to maintain publication of a newspaper for such an extended period and was a groundbreaking Georgia businesswoman.