< Ann Smith Franklin – printer, publisher and newspaper editor : 1696 – 1763

Ann Smith Franklin – printer, publisher and newspaper editor : 1696 – 1763

Ann Smith Franklin learned the printing and publishing business from her husband James Franklin, brother of Benjamin Franklin. She inherited the business on his death in 1735. In 1736, in order to support her family, she petitioned the General Assembly of Rhode Island, seeking to print their official publications. She won the contract, and became the official printer of the General Assembly, a position she held until she died – printing law books, election ballots, legal forms, the colony’s currency and the colony’s charter granted by Charles II of England..

To supplement her income, she printed sermons for ministers, advertisements for merchants, as well as popular British novels. Ann’s most notable work was compiling and publishing five editions of the Rhode Island Almanack, for the years 1737-1741. In 1741, she began selling her brother-in-law Benjamin’s alamanac, Poor Richard’s Alamanac, and in 1745, she printed 500 copies of the Acts and Laws of Rhode Island as a folio edition, her largest commission.

In 1758 she and her son James produced the Newport Mercury, the first newspaper in Rhode Island – which is being still published today. Ann was the country’s first woman newspaper editor, first woman to write an almanac, and the first woman inducted into the University of Rhode Island’s Journalism Hall of Fame.

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