First Woman Reporter
The incomparable Nellie Bly was a stunt reporter for The
New York World magazine from the late 1890's through the
early 1900's. Her provocative reporting style changed the face of women
in journalism forever.
Now audiences everywhere have a chance to meet the famous
daredevil reporter from 1890 who:
- traveled around the world in 72 days;
- journeyed to Mexico and became one of America's first
female foreign correspondents;
- championed the causes of the working girl;
- feigned insanity and penned the work Ten Days in
- personally interviewed Susan B. Anthony.
How is is possible we are meeting the remarkable Nellie Bly
face-to-face? Simply because she has traveled over a hundred years
through time to get our story.
Join in the fun as Anne Pasquale portrays this dynamic
- To have children experience a hands-on encounter with
turn-of-the-century America by recreating the major events in the life
of one of its most heroic journalists.
- To make children aware of the important differences between
everyday life of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries.
- To highlight the role of women in society.
- ANTHONY, SUSAN B.
- The subject of one of Ms. Bly's
character profiles for The World. Ms. Anthony was
at the time a former abolitionist who had become one of the leading
figures in the women's suffrage movement.
- AROUND THE WORLD IN 72 DAYS
- Nellie Bly's book that
records her acclaimed journalistic stunt of traveling around the world
in a mere 72 days. This was achieved during a time when flying machines
were pure fiction. She broke every record!
- BLACKWELL'S ISLAND
- This location, presently referred to
as Roosevelt Island, was the site for several asylums for the insane.
One of these institutions became the subject of Ms. Bly's exposť, Ten
Days in the Madhouse.
- BOX FACTORIES
- Workplaces that employed numerous
immigrant and unskilled women, offered inadequate working conditions,
and used child labor. Ms. Bly investigated these establishments for an
exposť published in the Pittsburgh Dispatch. These
articles earned her the title, "Guardian of the Working Girl."
- COCHRAN, ELIZABETH
- Nellie Bly's birth name prior to her
working for the Pittsburgh Dispatch. It was George
Madden who renamed Elizabeth "Nellie," taking the name from a popular
Stephen Foster tune.
- A shaped, close-fitting undergarment worn by
women of the nineteenth century.
- ELLIS ISLAND
- The site of a former naval arsenal that
became an immigrant reception center. It is located at the southernmost
tip of Manhattan.
- SIX MONTHS IN MEXICO
- The book that recorded Ms. Bly's
journey to the Latin land. This work established her as one of our
first female correspondents.
- STUNT REPORTER
- A group of reporters during the 1800's
who, in order to attract attention for their particular article, would
obtain their story by extreme means. For example, to gather material
for a story about prisons, they would have themselves arrested..
Questions for Discussion and Classroom Activities
- Nellie Bly was a stunt reporter. This meant that, in order
to gain her stories, she would actually take on the life of her
subject. Ask the students to engage in some stunt reporting of their
own. Have them observe each other or a person they very much admire or
wish to know more about. Then have them mimic that person in lifestyle
and/or dress. Then have them write a story from their new perspective.
Here are some possible headlines: "Life at My Best Friend's House," or
"Kindergarten: The Real Story." For more advanced students, some topics
might include: "A Day in the Life of a Surgeon," or "What It's Like to
- Women have come a long way since Nellie's time. They have
the right to vote, they may own property, they can even run for public
office. Name some of the other liberties that women of our century
experience in contrast to those of the past in dress, occupation, etc.
- Have the students look around the room. How many everyday
objects and amenities would have been part of Nellie's world? How many
would have been different?
- Have the students conduct an entire class period as if they
were living in the nineteenth century. What would be done differently?
What would be the same?
Bly, Nellie. Around The World In 72 Days
, New York: Pictoral Weekly,
Bly, Nellie. Six Months In Mexico
, New York: John W. Lovell, 1886.
Bly, Nellie. Ten Days In The Madhouse
, New York: Norman L. Munro,
Cohn, Amy L. From Sea To Shining Sea
, New York: Scholastic Inc.,
Daniels, Roger. Coming To America
, New York: HarperCollins, 1990.
Ehrilich, Elizabeth. Nellie Bly
, New York: Chelsea House Publishers,
Kroeger, Brooke. Nellie Bly
, New York: Times Books, 1994.
Margetson, Stella. Leisure & Pleasure In The 19th Century
York: Coward McCann, Inc., 1969.
Nobie, Iris. Nellie Bly: First Woman Reporter
, Detroit: Messner,
Rappaport, Doreen. American Women: Their Lives In Their Words
York: Harper Trophy, 1992.
What they say about...Nellie Bly
"The students were very much engaged. This performance brought to light
a moment in American history that many of the children were unfamiliar with."
- Katherine Flack, Director of Junior Education Program, Boys
"I highly recommend Anne. She is professional, pleasant to work with, and
a joy to watch. You will not be disappointed." - Mary Telford
Williams, Grace Church School
"We really felt we had travelled back in time! It was amazing how much you
packed into your performance - history, humor, songs, audience participation,
and a whole lot of fun. Your way with the children was delightful." -
Meg Stackpole, Assistant Children's Librarian, The Rye Free Reading Room
"The children truly enjoyed the show and related well to the immigrant stories
she tells. We would love to see more of Anne's work in the future." -
Mindee Barham, I Have a Dream Program
(actress & playwright
is presently a member of The Actors Studio. She trained at LAMDA and
the New York School of the Arts. She has appeared on TV in: As
The World Turns
and Search for Tomorrow
In Great Britain she performed a range of roles from Viola in Twelfth
to Sarah Goddard, a turn of the century Rhode Island
feminist. Some of her New York stage credits include: The New
Dramatist's Three Sisters
, Lincoln Center’s A
View from the Bridge
, Theatre of the Open Eye’s Birdbath
The 78th Street Theatre Lab’s Ruffian on the Stair
and Paradise Lost
at The Actors Studio. In
addition, Ms. Pasquale creates and tours her repertoire of Living
for audiences of all ages in venues along
the East Coast. Recent appearances include: Nellie
at The NHHC Chautauqua, Liberty Belles
Yale University Museum and Deborah Sampson
John Jay Homestead.