Her Name Was Mary Katharine: The Only Woman Whose Name Is on the Declaration of Independence by Ella Schwartz and Dow Phumiruk

Hello, Ella Schwartz! Hello, Dow Phumiruk! Welcome to Watch. Connect. Read.! Thank you for stopping by to share the cover for Her Name Was Mary Katharine: The Only Woman Whose Name Is on the Declaration of Independence.

Ella, thank you for introducing me to Mary Katharine Goddard! When did you first learn about her, and when did you know you wanted to tell her story?

Ella Schwartz: I learned about Mary Katharine Goddard a few years ago, completely by accident, while reading an article about the American Revolution. She was mentioned as almost an afterthought! I couldn’t believe that a woman whose name appears on one of our nation’s most treasured documents was merely an afterthought! From that moment I knew I had to tell her story. The problem was, there wasn’t a ton of information readily available on Mary Katharine. Sure, there’s a Wikipedia entry on the Internet, but a lot of the information posted there was just wrong! I knew I had a lot of research ahead of me, but I also knew this was an important story to finally tell!

Dow, please tell us about the materials you used to create the art.

Dow Phumiruk: I work predominantly with Photoshop and a Wacom pen and tablet. Along with the digital tools, I utilize pencil as well as other traditional media to collage into my art. In this project, I included newspaper samples as textural elements, too.

For readers interested in my process and workflow as an illustrator, keep reading below!

My general drawing process starts on Photoshop, where I plan my composition for a spread. I print these drafts out (very faintly) on paper. On these prints, I sketch outlines with a hard lead pencil (I really enjoy the convenience of 0.5mm mechanical pencils, so I don't have to keep sharpening!) and add shading with a 6B pencil. Then back they go into Photoshop for revision. I may repeat these steps until I am satisfied with the overall layout. Finally, I add color and texture on Photoshop. The textures I use are samples of watercolor, acrylic, and pencil on an Overlay layer at about 30% opacity. I essentially collage them into my spreads this way to add interest to the art.

Illustration Credit: Dow Phumiruk

Ella, please finish the following sentence starters: 

Her Name Was Katharine: The Only Woman Whose Name Is on the Declaration of Independence is the story of a fierce lady who put everything on the line for the love of her country.

Dow Phumiruk’s illustrations are bold and breathtaking. I literally gasped the first time I saw them.

Illustration Credit: Dow Phumiruk

Dow, please finish the following sentence starters: 

Ella Schwartz’s manuscript for Her Name Was Mary Katharine: The Only Woman Whose Name Is on the Declaration of Independence intrigued and captivated me by sharing a piece of United States history not represented in our school textbooks. I am grateful for talented authors like Ella. Her meticulous research shines a light on Mary Katharine's life and accomplishments. I am also grateful for our editor Christy Ottaviano (Christy Ottaviano Books), who champions so many stories of influential and brave women like Mary Katharine. What an honor to be part of this team!

Did you know Ella shared images of the actual copies of the Maryland Journal with me? At the Library of Congress, she held pages printed long ago by Mary Katharine herself! You can see some of this on the jacket image, where I've collaged the images in the background.

From Ella: The Library of Congress is a magical place! I’m convinced the librarians there are mystical unicorns. They were so gracious helping me with my research on a late Thursday night in the bowels of the library’s periodical building. How lucky was I to hold Mary Katharine’s actual printings in my hands!

Thank you, Ella and Dow!

Ella Schwartz is the award-winning author of Can You Crack the Code?: A Fascinating History of Ciphers and Cryptography, which won the AAAS/Subaru Prize for Excellence in Science Books. In addition to writing books, Ella is a cybersecurity warrior interfacing with the US federal government on strategic technology initiatives. She lives in New York with her husband and three sons. 

Dow Phumiruk is the award-winning illustrator of Counting on Katherine: How Katherine Johnson Saved Apollo 13, which won the Bank Street College of Education Cook Prize and was named an NSTA Outstanding Science Trade Book as well as an NCTM Mathical Honor Book, among many other honors; An Equal Shot: How the Law Title IX Changed America; and Maya Lin: Artist-Architect of Light and Lines, which was an Amazon Best Book of the Year and an NCSS Notable Social Studies Trade Book for Young People. A general pediatrician with a passion for art, Dow lives in Colorado with her family.

Christy Ottaviano Books' Description:

A rousing picture book biography of the only woman whose name is printed on the Declaration of Independence.

Born in 1738, Mary Katharine Goddard came of age in colonial Connecticut as the burgeoning nation prepared for the American Revolution. As a businesswoman and a newspaper publisher, Goddard paved the way for influential Revolutionary media. Her remarkable accomplishments as a woman defied societal norms and set the stage for a free and open press. When the Continental Congress decreed that the Declaration of Independence be widely distributed, one person rose to the occasion and printed the document—boldly inserting her name at the bottom with a printing credit: Mary Katharine Goddard.

Here is an important biography of a groundbreaking woman who had the courage to write herself into the history she helped create.


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