In honor of Women's History Month, I will be doing special posts in honor of women throughout history. One of which will be: every Wednesday in the month of March I will profile an extraordinary woman who you may not have heard of. Today's profile is on:
Name: Nellie Bly (Real name: Elizabeth Jane Cochran)
DOB/DOD: May 5, 1864 - January 27, 1922
What she was known for: Faking insanity to discover the cruel treatments of mental hospitals and a record breaking trip around the world.
As a journalist for the Pittsburgh Dispatch, Bly got the job for writing a rebuttal to a sexist column. However, as a woman, the editors tried to force her writing to the 'woman's pages'. I.E. Fashion, society, etc, but Bly wanted to focus her work on the struggling working woman: servants and factory workers.
In 1887, Bly had moved to New York and obtained a job at the New York World where she received a spectacular assignment: Fake insanity and become admitted to a mad house. During a ten day stay at the Women's Lunatic Asylum on Blackwell's Island, Bly composed enough information to write an expose entitled Ten Days in a Mad-House, where she outlined the cruel and inhumane treatment of patients. This forced an almost one million dollar increase in funds for the care of the insane.
After marrying in 1895, she became President of the Iron Clad Manufacturing Co. In 1904 she invented the the steel barrel that was the model for the 55-gallon oil drum. However, forced into bankruptcy, Bly returned to journalism, covering the Women's Suffrage Convention and WWI.
Yesterday, I posted a review of Ten Days in a Mad-House, which you can read here.
You can read Bly's work, including Ten Days in a Mad-House here for free.
NYCHS: Nellie Bly -- In Blackwell's Island Asylum
The American Exprience | Around the World in 72 Days