LOSCHO Womens Legacy ProjectThe Women's Legacy Project of Snohomish County, Washington seeks to honor our foremothers by recording and sharing their personal histories, their ability to adapt to the forces of change and their constant vigilance as stewards of the diverse cultures of our society.
WLP Story # 61 ~

Missouri Hanna: “Mother of Journalism in Washington State”

By Charles P. LeWarne

     Pioneer newspaper publisher Missouri T. B. Hanna (Mrs. M. T. B. Hanna) was born in Galveston, Texas, on February 17, 1857, but grew up in Arkansas. She married J. C. Hanna and they moved with three children to Spokane Falls, Washington Territory, in 1882, but her husband died in an Idaho boating accident five years later. In 1904 she settled in Edmonds and shortly purchased the weekly Edmonds Review which she published for five years, acknowledged as the first woman newspaper publisher in Washington. The paper chronicled early phases of Edmonds’s growth.

     In a folksy initial column, Mrs. Hanna suggested no introduction was necessary: “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 argued that the growing town needed a solid newspaper. “A newspaper,” she told readers, “is part of a city, [so readers should] help it along, read it, criticize and help pay for it, but don’t kill it.” A rival paper, apparently headed by mill owners and businessmen, mocked Hanna’s efforts.

     Hanna vowed that the Review would be politically “independent; its policy will be to best serve the interests of our promising town, Edmonds, and its neighborhood.” The earliest issues tended to center on state, national, and even international affairs, but gradually the paper took on more concerns about Edmonds including a column of local social and business activities. It also indulged in Edmonds boosterism. During her five years at the helm, the Review chronicled the tiny village as it acquired the structural and social needs of a rapidly growing community. New industries arrived joining the ever present shingle mills. The town’s infrastructure was developed and improved, cultural and recreational facilities were built, and transportation linked Edmonds to nearby areas. The Review itself took on a more modern appearance with new type fonts and larger headlines above articles. Yet, when the new Edmonds Chamber of Commerce listed its fifty members, all were males. Newspaper publisher Hanna was not among them. She was, however, the only female among the several founders of the Snohomish County Press Association which was created in March 1906. Meanwhile, she also developed a five-acre Edmonds neighborhood still known as Hanna Park.
     In 1907 the weekly Tribune started as a local rival of the Review. The Tribune passed through several hands until Hanna, partially for personal reasons, sold her paper to the Tribune company early in February 1910. The merged paper became the Tribune-Review, the community’s landmark newspaper for the next seven decades. Meanwhile Hanna becoming involved in the movement for woman suffrage, a cause increasingly reported upon in the Review.
     Based partially in Seattle, Hanna published two successive journals in behalf of that cause. Spurred on by the activity of May Arkwright Hutton, Emma Smith DeVoe, and others, in 1910 the state legislature proposed a suffrage amendment to the state constitution to be voted upon in a general election that November. The previous year DeVoe’s Washington Equal Suffrage Association had determined to issue a monthly magazine as its official organ. Published by Hanna, 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. It worked toward attaining the vote which was obtained in Washington in the November election. Its successor, The New Citizen, recognized the role of the newly enfranchised women and admonished them to use the ballot that they had worked to achieve. The paper took up various causes for civic betterment and immediately played a significant role in defeating Seattle mayor Hiram Gill in a recall election.
       But that paper lasted little more than a year. Costs were clearly a factor in its demise for Hanna claimed to have borne the entire cost of publishing, but she also found herself increasingly needed to care for an invalid daughter. Missouri Hanna continued to live in Edmonds and in Seattle and to engage in occasional journalistic endeavors until 1920. She died suddenly at “Fern Rest,” her Hanna Park home, on June 14, 1926, at the age of 69. Besides her husband, a son and the daughter had preceded her in death; another daughter Mrs. Florence Hamilton, survived in Edmonds. 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.
T. A. Larson, The Woman Suffrage Movement in Washington, Pacific Northwest Quarterly, April 1976, 49-62 [Larson makes no reference to Missouri Hanna or to her newspapers.];
Lloyd Spencer, Editor-in-chief, and Lancaster Pollard, A History of the State of Washington (New York: The American Historical Society, Inc., 1937) IV:776-77;
Ray V. Cloud, Edmonds, The Gem of Puget Sound: A History of the City of Edmonds (Edmonds, WA: Edmonds Tribune-Review Press, 1953), pp. 11, 12, 13, 25, 31, 34, 59;
William Whitfield, supervising editor, History of Snohomish County, Washington, 2 vols. (Chicago and Seattle: Pioneer Historical Publishing Company), I:791-92;
Margaret Riddle, “Snohomish County and the Woman Suffrage Campaign (1909-1910)”, History Link essay 8690;
Votes for Women, October 1909-January 1911;
New  Citizen, February 1911-January 1912;
Lorraine McConaghy, Votes for Women: A 1910 article by Mrs. T. B. Hanna, called Mother of Journalism in Washington State, HistoryLink.org Essay 8107;
Edmonds Review, January 1905-February 1910;
Pioneer Edmonds Newspaper Woman Answers Death's Call, Edmonds Tribune-Review, June 18, 1926, p. 1;
Funeral Services For Mrs. Hanna Held Saturday, Ibid., June 25, 1926, p. 1;
Mother of Journalism Dies at Edmonds Home, The Seattle Daily Times, June 19, 1926, p. 5;
Certificate of Death - Missouri T. B. Hanna, Washington State Board of Health, Bureau of Vital Statistics;
Lorraine McConaghy, email to Chuck LeWarne, March 5, 2007, containing research responses from Seattle Public Library. Thanks to Kathe Hall, Tracy Tallman, Margaret Riddle, and Lorraine McConaghy.

2009  Charles P. LeWarne, All Rights Reserved