Elizabeth Jane Cochran exposed the dark side of mental institutions, went undercover in a box factory, crossed the globe in seventy-two days and proved to her nineteenth-century cohorts that a woman journalist was every bit as good as man.
When Cochran wrote her first column for the Pittsburgh Dispatch, it was unheard of for women to write for newspapers under their own names, so her editor made up the name Nellie Bly for her byline Determined not to write about fundraising tea parties and ladies’ fashion, Bly went under cover as a patient at a notorious New York mental asylum, was almost arrested by the Mexican government, beat Jules Verne’s hero’s eighty-day trip around the world, and pretty much helped to create the practice of investigative journalism. It’s baffling that such a cool woman fails to make an appearance in mainstream history books.
American Experience: Around the World in 72 Days : This documentary makes a fun introduction to Bly’s life and exploits.
The Daring Nellie Bly : A lively readaloud, this text-heavy picture book traces some of Bly’s most memorable adventures.
Eighty Days: Nellie Bly and Elizabeth Bisland's History-Making Race Around the World : This seriously compelling book focuses on the competition between Bly and Cosmopolitan reporter Elizabeth Bisland as they set out to break Verne’s around-the-world record.
Bylines: A Photobiography of Nellie Bly : Lots of primary resources, including photographs, maps, and other artifacts, lend a personal touch to this biography.
Rebel in a Dress: Adventurers : Bly is one of twelve adventurous women heroes profiled in this excellent book.
Muckraking: The Journalism that Changed America : Bly’s “Ten Days in a Madhouse” is one of the groundbreaking articles included in this collection of American investigative journalism classics. The historical and critical notes that accompany the article are ideal for older students.
Round the World with Nellie Bly : Put together the puzzle to play this globetrotting game.