Nellie Bly By: Marissa Kustra
Biography • Nellie Bly was born “Elizabeth Jane Cochran.” She was born May 5, 1864 in Cochran Mills, PA • She was a journalist, author, industrialist and charity worker. • Her spouse is Robert Seaman. • Female writers at that time would customarily use pen names. She was nicknamed Nellie Bly; the title of a popular song by Stephen Foster. • Later on in her life at age 57, she died of pneumonia in St. Mark’s hospital in New York City.
Journalism • In 1880, Nellie and her family moved to Pittsburgh. She was asked to write for the paper, Pittsburgh Dispatch. • She focused her early work for the Dispatch on the plight of working women, writing a series of investigative articles on female factory workers. • Dissatisfied with the usual role for female journalists (fashion, gardening, and society) she went to Mexico to serve as a foreign correspondent.
Career Highlights • She spent half a year reporting the lives and customs of Mexican people. • Her facts were later published in a book called “Six Months in Mexico.” • In one of her reports, she protested the dictatorship of Porfirio Diaz. • When the authorities of Mexico found out about her report, she was threatened with arrest and forced to leave the country. • Once she was home safely, she criticized Diaz by calling him a tyrannical czar who controls the press and suppresses the Mexican people.
Remembered For… • Nellie Bly is best known for an undercover expose where she faked insanity to study a mental institution from within. • After 10 days, she was released from the asylum. Her report was later published in a book called “Ten Days in a Mad-House.” It was a huge sensation and brought her lasting fame. • She is also best known for her trip around the world. • She completed the journey in 67 days. Traveling alone, she became an inspiration to women everywhere, and became a role model for independence.
Legacy • The Nellie Bly amusement park, located in New York City, is named after her and has the theme “Around the World in Eighty Days.” • Nellie Bly was one of four journalists honored with a U.S postage stamp in a "Women in Journalism" set in 2002. • From early in the Twentieth Century until 1961, the Pennsylvania Railroad operated a parlor-car only express train between New York and Atlantic City that bore the name, "Nellie Bly." • Nellie Bly's investigation of the Blackwell's Island insane asylum is dramatized in the 4D experience shown in the Annenberg Theater at the new “Newseum” in Washington, DC (opening in 2008).
Photos Bly in her traveling clothes, 1890 Bly in 1890
Sample – Around the World WHAT gave me the idea? It is sometimes difficult to tell exactly what gives birth to an idea. Ideas are the chief stock in trade of newspaper writers and generally they are the scarcest stock in market, but they do come occasionally, This idea came to me one Sunday. I had spent a greater part of the day and half the night vainly trying to fasten on some idea for a newspaper article. It was my custom to think up ideas on Sunday and lay them before my editor for his approval or disapproval on Monday. But ideas did not come that day and three o'clock in the morning found me weary and with an aching head tossing about in my bed. At last tired and provoked at my slowness in finding a subject, something for the week's work, I thought fretfully: "I wish I was at the other end of the earth!" "And why not?" the thought came: "I need a vacation; why not take a trip around the world?" It is easy to see how one thought followed another. The idea of a trip around the world pleased me and I added: "If I could do it as quickly as PhileasFogg did, I should go." Then I wondered if it were possible to do the trip eighty days and afterwards I went easily off to sleep with the determination to know before I saw my bed again if PhileasFogg's record could be broken.
Sources • http://www.nelliebly.org • http://www.wikipedia.org • http://digital.library.upenn.edu/women/bly/world/world.html