The history of women in American media is a fascinating one. Thanks to the work of those who preceded them, these women helped to raise the ceiling:
a number of names are going to come up. The following three are easily amongst the most significant:
Nellie Bly (1864-1922): Elizabeth Jane Cochrane chose to write under the pen name of Nellie Bly. One of the earliest, most prominent examples of American media, Bly’s career included a number of remarkable achievements: 1) she wrote an expose of a mental health institution by faking insanity, 2) set the record for fastest trip around the world for that time (72 days), and 3) wrote intensely on subjects such as women’s rights. Her mental institution expose is considered to be one of the first true examples of modern investigative journalism.
Winifred Bonfils (1863-1936): Bonfils worked primarily as a columnist and reporter. During the high point of her career, she was considered to be one of the most important “sob sister” reporters of her day. This was a term that was given to female reporters who focused their energies on writing human interest stories. She wrote several of these during her career, including for 1906 San Francisco Earthquake, the Harry Thaw murder trial, and the Galveston Hurricane of 1900. She was a significant figure in the newspaper empire William Randolph Hearst had begun building at the dawn of the 20th century.
Frona Eunice Wait (1859-1946, pictured above): Another notable example, Wait wrote a number of non-fiction books on such subjects as wine-tasting and history. However, she also worked extensively as a newspaper reporter, particularly in San Francisco. She also wrote a number of anti-suffrage articles. It was in 1923 that Wait became a staff member of the Overland Monthly. She rose quickly to the position of associate editor, but she continued to contribute articles to the publication. She is also notable for the novel Yermah the Dorado, which some consider to be one of the earliest known examples of science fiction.
To read about 18th century women of American click here.