Nellie Bly: Exposing A Madhouse

By | January 30, 2019

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(Original Caption) Here is a formal portrait of Nellie Bly (1867-1922), an American journalist and around the world traveler. Source: (© Bettmann/Contributor/Getty Images )

Who Was She?

Born as Elizabeth Cochran in 1864, she came from Pennsylvania. She attended teacher’s college in Indiana, however because of her family’s money problems, she was not able to finish. She helped her mother to run a boardinghouse. As she was no longer in school she began to pay attention to what was happening in the world around her. She wrote a letter to the editor of the ‘Pittsburgh Dispatch’ pointing out the newspaper’s poor representation of women. The editor was impressed with her writing and printed her letter then offered her a job. At this time, she took the pen name of Nellie Bly.

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Going Undercover

Nellie Bly moved to New York City so she could work for a bigger newspaper. She wanted to write about more than just ‘woman’ things. As a woman, she had a tough time getting any of the newspaper editors to take her seriously. Finally, one of the editors from ‘New York World’ challenged her to get herself committed to an insane asylum to report on the horrific conditions. Actually getting herself committed was pretty easy. She rented a room at a female boarding house and studied women who seemed pretty insane to her. It did not take long for her to end up in court and pronounced insane. She was first sent to Bellevue Hospital then sent to Blackwell’s Island.