Nellie Bly Essay

888 words - 4 pages

“I had looked forward so eagerly to leaving the horrible place, yet when my release came and I knew that God's sunlight was to be free for me again, there was a certain pain in leaving." – Nellie BlyNellie Bly was born on May 5, 1864 in Cochran's Mills, Pennsylvania in the home of Mary Jane and Judge Michael Cochran. She was an author, American journalist, charity worker, and industrialist. Nellie focused her journalistic attention on women's rights issues. She was the inventor of investigative reporting and an expert at under-cover work. She posed as a poor sweatshop worker to expose the cruelty and dire conditions under which women worked. As well, she is famous for pretending to be insane in order to study a women’s mental institution from the inside. She is also well-known for her record-breaking trip around the world.
Nellie Bly was born with the name Elizabeth Jane Cochran. She was given the nickname “Pink” because of the bright pink gown her mother had her wear. Her father, Judge Michael Cochran, died when she was six years old. The Judge, although an important and honorable member of the community, died without a will, leaving his wife without claim to the property and forcing the auction of his estate. The family moved to a modest home and Pink took on the responsibility of helping raise her siblings. Her mother remarried three years later in hope of securing the well-being of her children, but, unfortunately, Pink's step-father was abusive. As a result, her mother sued for divorce when Elizabeth was fourteen years old.
In 1880, when Elizabeth Jane Cochran was about 18, her family moved to Pittsburgh. There she wrote an anonymous letter to the editor of the Pittsburgh Dispatch in response to a sexist editorial by the "Quiet Observer," Erasmus Wilson. George Madden, managing editor of the Dispatch was so impressed by the letter, signed "Lonely Orphan Girl," that he placed an ad in the Sunday paper asking that she introduce herself. The following day, Pink climbed the four stories of stairs to the offices of the Pittsburgh Dispatch and started her first job as a journalist. Pink's first article was a rebuttal to Wilson's sexist piece on the "women's sphere." When Madden decided to make Pink a permanent member of his staff, he needed to come up with a pen name for her, because it was improper for a woman to write for a newspaper and make her identity known to the public. After several suggestions from the newsroom workers, Madden chose Nellie Bly, the title character in the song "Nelly Bly" written 35 years earlier by Stephen Collins Foster.
Nellie Bly then moved on to New York’s New York World where her first assignment was to report on...

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