Today Is the 151st Birthday of All-Around Feminist Badass Nellie Bly


Today would be the 151st birthday of Elizabeth Cochran—the groundbreaking journalist better known as Nellie Bly. In 1885, Bly wrote a furious letter to a Pittsburgh newspaper denouncing a column titled “What Girls Are Good For” that described the working woman as a “monstrosity” and said that women were best suited for domestic chores.

Impressed by Bly’s letter, Pittsburgh Dispatch editor George Madden hired her as a full-time reporter under the pen name Nellie Bly. She was a trailblazing journalist, an unwavering champion for women and the working poor, and a brilliant muckracker. One of her most famous assignments was for the the New York World where she posed as a mentally ill woman and exposed the horrors of a women’s asylum on Blackwell’s Island.

Bly also achieved worldwide fame with her 1889 trip around the world, which was inspired by Jules Verne’s novel “Around the World in Eighty Days.” She completed her journey in seventy-two days. Below is the front page of the New York World from January 26, 1890 and the lead article was about her record-setting trip:

AP

To celebrate Bly’s birthday today, Karen O of the Yeah Yeah Yeah’s has written a song in her honor, which is featured in a lovely Google Doodle created by artist Katy Wu. 

Google

“We gotta speak up for the ones who’ve been told to shut up,” the lyrics go. “Oh Nellie, take us all around the world and break those rules cause you’re our girl.”

To check out the song and animation, skip to Google’s homepage here.

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THE BIG PICTURE

You expect the big picture, and it's our job at Mother Jones to give it to you. And right now, so many of the troubles we face are the making not of a virus, but of the quest for profit, political or economic (and not just from the man in the White House who could have offered leadership and comfort but instead gave us bleach).

In "News Is Just Like Waste Management," we unpack what the coronavirus crisis has meant for journalism, including Mother Jones’, and how we can rise to the challenge. If you're able to, this is a critical moment to support our nonprofit journalism with a donation: We've scoured our budget and made the cuts we can without impairing our mission, and we hope to raise $400,000 from our community of online readers to help keep our big reporting projects going because this extraordinary pandemic-plus-election year is no time to pull back.

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