Archives of Maryland
(Biographical Series)

Anne Catharine Hoof Green (c. 1720-1775)
MSA SC 3520-14736

Biography:

Anne Catharine Green was a woman who acted outside of the societal constraints of her time.  Instead of facing the trials of life and caving to them, she stood firm and not only provided for her family, but made a significant contribution to the history of the state of Maryland.  She has, “come to represent the capacity of women in the 18th century Annapolis and Maryland to free themselves from the legal and social constraints imposed on women.”1

Anne Catharine Hoof Green is believed to have been born in Holland, in approximately 1720.  Not much has been found documenting her early life, leaving historians largely in the dark about her upbringing and childhood.  Although it is believed that she immigrated to Pennsylvania with her parents at a young age, the earliest recorded event in her life is her marriage to Jonas Green, on April 25, 1738, at Christ’s Church in Philadelphia.2  Shortly after their marriage the couple moved to Annapolis, Maryland, where Jonas set up a printing shop.3  He quickly “became [a] civic leader, church officer, and poet, punchmaker, and punster to the popular Tuesday Club of local gentlemen.”4

The couple had a total of fourteen children born between 1738 and 1760, only six of whom survived to maturity.5  During this time Jonas Green was establishing himself as a respected printer and publisher in the colony.  In 1738 he was appointed as the printer of the province of Maryland.6  This position provided him with steady work and income.  However, even though his printing skills were undisputed and he completed his duties on time, Green was not a strong businessman.  While he was extremely popular in his social group, at the time of his death he was deeply in debt.

While her husband was alive and running the printing business, Mrs. Green worked hard to help support their family by bringing in supplemental income.  There are records of advertisements she placed in her husband’s paper, the Maryland Gazette, for raisins, chocolate and coffee to be sold at the shop.7  In addition to providing supplementary income for the family, Anne had primary responsibility for the home and children.  Any family as large as the Green’s would be subject to multiple illnesses and Mrs. Green nursed the family through them all, including a smallpox epidemic.8

Some historians believe that in addition to selling chocolates and coffee, Anne Catharine was involved in her husband's business before his death, possibly even dating back to when they arrived in Annapolis.9  However, it is difficult to say whether or not she was familiar with the printing business early on, as little is known of her prior to her husband’s death.  As one historian says, she was heard of, “only incidentally,” before the death of her husband.10

Jonas Green died on April 11, 1767 , leaving his wife the burdens of his business and debts, as well as the care of their children.11  In the face of a situation that would appear hopeless to many women of her time, Anne Catharine Green took charge, working not only to care for her family, but to financially provide for them.  As historian Lawrence Wroth said, “At a time when a less aggressive woman would have been content to seek the chimney corner, she undertook the support of her children and the accomplishment of important tasks in the public service.”12

The strength of Anne Catharine’s character was revealed when, almost as soon as her husband was buried, she took over the press, completing the printing jobs that he had been commissioned by the state to do.13  She also maintained the printing of the Maryland Gazette, publishing an appeal for the continued support of the patrons in the very same issue that contained her husband’s death notice.14  For nine months, Mrs. Green worked hard to complete the printing tasks, receiving no sorely needed financial compensation.  In 1768, the Maryland General Assembly finally acknowledged her hard work and agreed to compensate her.15  Additionally, the Governor approved her petition to be appointed to her husband’s former post as printer of the province, under the same terms and conditions.16

Within three years, Green had paid off much of Jonas’ debts, collected money from those who owed him, and was able to purchase the family’s long-time home and business.  A part of Green’s business plan was to firmly request payment from approximately 1200 of her husband’s debtors.  If they did not cooperate, she said that she would, "take legal action against them and publish their names—and the amount of money they owed—in the Gazette.”17  In addition to getting the business on better financial footing, Anne rearranged the physical placement of the shop and supplies to be in closer proximity to the house, so that she could blend her roles as mother and businesswoman with more fluidity.18

Anne Catharine Green not only printed the Maryland Gazette and documents for the government, but she is also credited with publishing an almanac, and political pamphlets.  Additionally, historians believe “the first book produced in Maryland with an engraved title page” was printed under her supervision.19  This speaks to both the technological advances in printing as a trade and art, as well as to Mrs. Green’s skill and importance as a Maryland printer.  Her success surpassed that of her husband, and although frequently working in conjunction with one or more of her sons, she was considered to be the “master printer” of the family.20

The Maryland Gazette was not just a way for Mrs. Green to support her family; the paper also held great significance to the community, and has become an important historical record.  The Gazette served as both a reflection of and influence over local thought on anything from what stores to patronize, to understanding the events that lead to the Revolution, and has been described as "one of the most important institutions" on the Chesapeake Tidewater.21 Historians consider it, “one of the fullest and most reliable sources of history left the State.”22  Like most newspapers of the time, the pages of the Gazette were filled with events of significance, both locally and abroad.  Sometimes the front page would contain a proclamation of the Royal Governor, “explaining various acts that had passed by Parliament.”23  Other stories from the continent of Europe, as well as from around the colonies also appeared.  However, the type of printing that took up the most amount of space were the various advertisements.  Once, George Washington himself published an ad in the Gazette, seeking individuals to live on and work some of his land for a nominal tenant fee.24

Because the paper was so important, as the only newspaper in Maryland until 1773, the Green’s possessed some measure of influence in their community.  Mrs. Green rarely contributed comments on the events related in the paper, and made it a practice to maintain neutrality, allowing individuals from both sides of debates to print pieces in the paper.  However, in the tumultuous times, her position as editor and printer gave her the unofficial role of “gatekeeper for political debate.”25 One of the most important editorial decisions she made was to print the "Antilon" and "First Citizen" letters.  These letters, eight in all, published from January to July 1773 made up a debate between Charles Carroll of Carrollton (First Citizen) and Daniel Dulany, Jr. (Antilon).26 Both of the gentlemen were Marylan politicians, interested in what powers should or should not be allotted to a representative government.  The debate had a significant impact on Maryland politics, as well as shaping the constitutional debates that emerged in the forming of the United States as an independent nation.  In printing and encouraging the exchange of these letters, Anne Catharine Green was instrumental in forming the nature of political debate in the colonies.

Mrs. Green knew that she, and her paper, held profound influence and importance within the colony, and in 1769, she commissioned a portrait by the famous painter Charles Willson Peale.27  She was depicted in fine clothing, holding “a document inscribe with the wording ‘ANNAPOLIS Printer to…’”28 This portrayed the contrast between her position as a gentlewoman and a professional.

On March 23, 1775, Anne Catharine Green passed away, leaving the family printing business to be carried on by her sons, Frederick and Samuel.29  The notice of her death that ran in the March 30th issue of the Gazette, presumably written by her son, Frederick, describes her as, “of a mild and benevolent disposition.”30  She had served as the printer of the province for eight years. She was considered, "an example to her sex," in both her public and family life.31

Historian, Martha King, has noted that Mrs. Green’s life should be examined in light of her personal, as well as her professional, life.32  As a woman in the colonial period, her career was only one facet of her life; she was a successful printer and publisher in a time when it was rare for women to work in that field, but she was also a widow and mother to fourteen children, eight of whom she buried before they reached maturity.  She faced immense grief and hardships with strength, emerging as a crucial member of Maryland history.  Her success “went completely against the grain of society’s expectations as to the role of women in the late 18th century.”33  In the words of Annapolis historian, Gregory Stiverson, “It’s difficult to imagine a more accomplished and successful business woman in colonial Maryland.”34

The significance of Anne Catharine Green’s work was recognized in 1984, when she was inducted into the Maryland Delaware D.C. Press Association’s Newspaper Hall of Fame.35 Additionally, she has been included in several historical studies on printing in the colonial period.  She was inducted into the Maryland Women’s Hall of Fame in March 2010.

Endnotes:

1. Letter of support from Mark Leone. Return to text
2. "Philadelphia Christ Church Register of Marriage," Pennsylvania Archives, Harrisburg: Second Series, VIII (1880), 105. Return to text
3. Jean Russo, "2010 Maryland Women's Hall of Fame Nomination." Return to text
4. David C. Skaggs, "Editorial Policies of the Maryland Gazette, 1765-1783," Maryland Historical Magazine 59 (1964), 341-342. Return to text
5. Russo. Return to text
6. Archives of Maryland Online, Proceedings and Acts of the General Assembly, 1737-1740, Volume 40, Page 178, <http://aomol.net/megafile/msa/speccol/sc2900/sc2908/000001/000040/html/am40--178.html> Return to text
7. Marianne Ellis Alexander, "Anne Catherine Green, 1720-1775: Public Printer," in Notable Maryland Women (Cambridge, Md: Tidewater Publishers, 1977), 170. Return to text
8. Lawrence C. Wroth,  A History of Printing in Colonial Maryland: 1686-1776 (Baltimore: Typothetae of Baltimore, 1922), 90, <http://aomol.net/000001/000435/html/index.html> Return to text
9. Margot Mohsberg, “Ink Trails Through Home,” The Capital, May 15, 2001, <http://www.hometownannapolis.com/hist_jonasgreenhouse.html> accessed 9 August 2010. Return to text
10. Wroth, 90. Return to text
11. Leona M. Hudak, "Anne Catharine (Hoof) Green (1767-1775)," in Early American Women Printers and Publishers, 1639-1820 (Metuchen, N.J.: The Scarecrow Press, Inc., 1978), 266. Return to text
12. Wroth, 90. Return to text
13. Mohsberg. Return to text
14. The Maryland Gazette, 16 April 1767, <http://www.msa.md.gov/megafile/msa/speccol/sc4800/sc4872/001281/html/m1281-0281.html> Return to text
15. Archives of Maryland Online, Proceedings and Acts of the General Assembly, 1766-1768, Volume 61, pg. 455-458, <http://aomol.net/megafile/msa/speccol/sc2900/sc2908/000001/000040/html/am40--178.html> Return to text
16. Hudak, 267. Return to text
17. Allison Bourg, “Gazette Publisher Inducted into Women’s Hall of Fame; Green Was 1st Woman in Nation’s History to Run Newspaper,” The Capital, March 18, 2010. Return to text
18. Ibid. Return to text
19. Alexander, 169. Return to text
20. Carrie Kiewitt, "2010 Maryland Women's Hall of Fame Nomination." Return to text
21. Skaggs, 341. Return to text
22. Elihu Riley, ‘The Ancient City’: A History of Annapolis, in Maryland: 1649-1887, (Annapolis, MD: Record Printing Office, 1887), 98 (accessed via Google Books). Return to text
23. Hudak, 274. Return to text
24. Maryland Gazette, 9 September 1773, <http://www.msa.md.gov/megafile/msa/speccol/sc4800/sc4872/001282/html/m1282-0448.html> Return to text
25. Gregory A. Stiverson, letter in support of "2010 Maryland Women's Hall of Fame Nomination." Return to text
26. Peter Onuf, Maryland and the Empire, 1773: The Antilon-First Citizen Letters, (Baltimore, MD: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1974), 15. Return to text
27. Russo. Return to text
28. Ibid. Return to text
29. Hudak, 276. Return to text
30. Maryland Gazette, 30 March 1775, <http://www.msa.md.gov/megafile/msa/speccol/sc4800/sc4872/001282/html/m1282-0822.html> Return to text
31. Ibid. Return to text
32. Martha Joanne King, "Anne Catharine Green," in Making an Impression: Women printers in the Southern colonies in the Revolutionary Era, (The College of William and Mary, 1992), 117. Return to text
33. Russo. Return to text
34. Stiverson. Return to text
35. Kiewitt. Return to text

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