Great Women of the Press

Great Women of the Press

Great Women of the Press

Great Women of the Press


Each of the 18 women whose stories unfold in this unique work made heroic, profession-changing contributions to journalism.

Covering nearly 300years, Schilpp and Murphy have elevated these women either from the obscurity of historical footnotes (Elizabeth Timothy, 1700- 1757) or from the frozen stuff of legend (Nellie Bly, Anne Newport Royall, Margaret Fuller); they have made their subjects working journalists whose careers and accomplishments were indeed heroic and inspiring, but human.

Aside from Timothy, Royall, Fuller, and Elizabeth Cochrane Seaman (Nellie Bly), the authors have included Mary Katherine Goddard, colonial publisher; Sarah Josepha Hale, first women's magazine editor; Cornelia Walter, editor of the Boston Transcript; and Jane Grey Swisshelm, abolitionist, feminist, and journalist. Others include Jane Cunningham Croly ("Jennie June"); Eliza Nicholson (Pearl Rivers), publisher of the Picayune; Ida Minerva Tarbell, muckraker; Elizabeth Meriwether Gilmer (Dorothy Dix); Ida B. Wells-Barnett, crusader; Winifred Black Bonfils (Annie Laurie), reformer; Rheta Child Dorr, freedom fighter; Dorothy Thompson, political columnist; Margaret Bourke-White, early photojournalist; and Marguerite Higgins, war correspondent.


The role of women in American journalism is established. Professionally the best women are every bit as good at their work as the best men. Neither brilliance and success nor mediocrity and failure are accidents of gender. Yet injustice persists because in any traditional society the cake of custom impedes the efforts of those rare individuals whose talents cause them to trespass into creative areas closed to them by stereotyped popular disapproval.

From the slow start generated by the Industrial Revolution, however, a little freedom bred a little more freedom until in our time this accretion has developed into a revolutionary force of the strength to sweep aside canons older than the written word. For one who equates the future with promise the prevailing winds of advocacy point to a new Age of Reason in which women of all societies will share equally with men. Meanwhile, one can but endure and long for the day when only the psychologically ill care a tootle whether supervisors and supervised and the observers and the observed are male or female.

Of all the machines that contributed to the progress toward emancipation of humanity, none is more important than the printing press, with its associated technology. Not only did the printed page break the monopoly of the mind exercised by church and state, but the related struggle to control the materials people were permitted to read created a circumstance that opened to women the world of journalism. Fredrick S. Seibert, in his 1952 account of continuing abortive attempts by the British Crown to control the con-

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