Traveling the world in eighty days was a great feat in itself during the 1800’s. Yet, Elizabeth Cochrane topped that time with seventy-two days, eleven minutes and fourteen seconds. To add to the already overwhelming awe, she was also a woman. In the 1800’s, women were not looked upon as useful beings, although Elizabeth Cochrane was no ordinary lady. Cochrane (or Nellie Bly, as was her journalist name, taken from a popular Stephen Foster song) entered this world on May 5, 1864 in Cochcran’s Mills, Pennsylvania and died on January 27, 1922 in New York, New York. She influenced the lives of many and impacted the world’s views on the purpose of women.
Although a popular sensation among society, she faced a tough start. Her father died of a sudden illness when she reached the age of six. He was a prosperous man, yet, neglected to leave a will. Bly’s family (including two younger siblings) saw their home and belongings sold. Her mother soon remarried (but quickly divorced) an abusive (drunk) man who often drove her screaming from the house. Bly, now an adolescent, enrolled into a boarding school. She was a brave woman who paved the way for future female journalists.
Nellie Bly worked for the Pittsburg DIspatch before assuming the role of a journalist and traveler for Joseph Pulitzer in The New York World. She traveled the world (beating Jules Verne’s, Around the World In Eighty Days, heroine. The departing note she left stated, “I am off for New York. Look out for me. BLY.” Bly also attended an insane asylum, assuming the role of a patient, on Blackwell’s Island. She reported all of the incomprehensible things that happened to her in the asylum. “Suddenly I got, one after the other, three buckets of water over my head and into my eyes, ears, my nose and my mouth, I think I expirienced the sensation of a drowning person as they dragged me from the tub….(Bly, 1)” She reported the asylum as having abusive attendants, spoiled food, no heat, and ice-cold baths.
Bly had to face discrimination against females being journalists and travelers. At this time period, women were not...