Nellie Bly's Impact as a Muckraker and Feminist Within the Progressive Era

Nellie Bly's Impact as a Muckraker and Feminist Within the Progressive Era

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A: Research Question
What impact did Nellie Bly have as a muckraker and feminist in the progressive era? In order to determine the impact Nellie Bly had as a muckraker, the publicity she received from the press is going to be examined. In addition, her accomplishments in reforming mental asylums as a journalist and her strides towards feminism are going to be examined. First hand accounts of the conditions in mental asylums at the time, from Nellie Bly and other reformers, are going to be examined. State laws and funding regarding mental asylums and the treatment of the mentally ill are going to be examined in order to assess the effectiveness of her muckraking. The breadth of her fame is going to be examined, through biographies and first hand accounts of her story, in order to assess her impact around the world and on the way the people of the time viewed women professionals.

B: Summary of Evidence
Originally born Elizabeth Jane Cochrane, Bly has made many significant strides in the world of women journalism. She was born in 1864, and was a female muckraker during the Progressive era. (Christensen 1) After landing a job with the newspaper The Pittsburgh Dispatch in 1885 she decided to pack up and move to New York. She received a job at the New York World newspaper. Her first assignment from the newspaper was to feign mental illness in order to be committed to the Women’s Lunatic Asylum on Blackwell’s Island. (Garraty 78) The Blackwell’s Lunatic Asylum was known for mistreating its patients. In 1840, the insane in the United States numbered 17,456 out of the total population of 17,069,453 people. The country’s fourteen hospitals for the mentally ill had a capacity of less than twenty-five hundred beds. (Herrmann 9) In search o...


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Garraty, John A., and Mark C. Carnes. American National Biography. New York: Oxford UP,
1999. Print.
Herrmann, Frederick M. Dorothea L. Dix and the Politics of Institutional Reform. Trenton, NJ:
New Jersey Historical Commission, 1981. Print.
Kroeger, Brooke. Nellie Bly: Daredevil, Reporter, Feminist. New York: Times, 1994. Print.
Lutes, Jean Marie. "Into the Madhouse with Nellie Bly: Girl Stunt Reporting in Late Nineteenth-
Century America." American Quarterly 54.2 (2002): 217-53. Print.
Schriber, Mary Suzanne. Telling Travels: Selected Writings by Nineteenth-century American
Women Abroad. DeKalb: Northern Illinois UP, 1995. Print.
Schultz, Jeffrey D., and Van Assendelft Laura A. Encyclopedia of Women in American Politics.
Phoenix, AZ: Oryx, 1999. Print.
"TREATMENT OF THE INSANE." New York Times (1857-1922): 3. Nov 14 1879. ProQuest.
Web. 31 Mar. 2014 .

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