To read of Nellie Bly, one would come to think the woman a pioneer in journalism; a hero for women's rights; and an American icon. These beliefs would be true if not for the fact that Bly was so much more. She was much more a woman, much more a writer, much more a hero and much more than most could ever be. Bly not only took on a world of injustice and stereotypes, but conquered it and changed the way the field of journalism works today.
Elizabeth Cochran, a.k.a. Nellie Bly was the first known female reporter. Bly's life spanned Reconstruction, the Victorian and Progressive Eras, the Great War, and its aftermath (Kroeger, 1996). And, even though there remains no fully organized collection of her life's personal or professional works, her legend still lives on.
Here, though regrettably abbreviated, is her story . . .Growing up in the 19th Century
Born on May 5, 1864, in Pennsylvania, Elizabeth Jane Cochran was the third of five children. As a child, Elizabeth was given the nickname, "Pink," for her avid affection of that color on clothing. Though born into a wealth, Cochran's family suffered from financial setbacks when her father, a wealthy former associate justice, passed away when she was just six years old. Cochran's mother remarried three years later, but her new husband was rumoured a drunk and the couple divorced when Elizabeth was fourteen.
In her teen years, Elizabeth changed her last name to Cochrane, in an attempt to add sophistication to her surname by adding an "e." In 1879, at the age of fifteen, Elizabeth spent one term at the Indiana State Normal School. It was a lack of money that forced her to withdraw from school and find a job to help with household expenses (Wildemuth, 1999). The fami...
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...do?subjectParam=Locale%2528en%President and Fellows of Harvard University.
Sowell, M. (2004, Summer). Nellie Bly's Forgotten Stunt: As the First Woman to Cover a Championship Prize Fight, She Claimed to Have Gained Rare Access to Jack Dempsey. American Journalism, 21(3), 55-76.
Stepp, C.S. (1995, January/February). Some Journalism Blasts From the Past. American Journalism Review, 1(1), 49.
Toth, E. (1994). The Personification of Pluck. RDS Contemporary Women's Issues 1-4. Retrieved November 1, 2006, from http://rdsweb1.rdsinc.com/texis/rds/suite2/The Women's Review, Inc..
Weisberger, B.A. (1989, March ). In the News: Celebrity Journalists. American Heritage Magazine, 40(2), 1-2. Retrieved October 31, 2006, from
Wildemuth, S. (1999, January.). Nellie Bly and the Power of the Press. Cobblestone, 20(1), 16. Retrieved October 27, 2006., from
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