While we learn a lot about our Founding Fathers in history classes, in recent years there’s been a stronger effort to put a bigger spotlight on the role of women in the story of America. With March being Women’s History Month, we’re seeing a greater effort than ever to teach young Americans about the unsung heroines who shaped our country’s legacy. But what about the adults? It’s never too late to learn, and there are some fun local resources near your apartment that you can visit to learn more American women who shaped our history.
Here’s a local woman you may not have learned about in history class, who’s story has left a lasting legacy on our community.
Nellie Bly – Nellie Bly is an important figure in journalism and human rights, who not only has a connection to NYC and women’s history, but also has a connection to our very building!
After facing rejection after rejection from news editors who would not consider hiring a woman back in the 1880s, Nellie Bly eventually talked her way into the offices of Joseph Pulitzer’s newspaper the New York World and took an undercover assignment for which she agreed to feign insanity to investigate reports of neglect at the Women’s Lunatic Asylum on Blackwell’s Island – now our home on Roosevelt Island.
Her report, later published into book form as Ten Days in a Mad-House, caused a sensation, prompted the asylum to implement reforms, and brought her lasting fame. She had a significant impact on American culture and shed light on the experiences of marginalized women beyond the bounds of the asylum as she ushered in the era of stunt girl journalism.
Nelly Bly is remembered today as one of the first successful female journalists, and for her work of humane treatments of the mentally ill. Women’s History is all around us here in America, but in this case, it’s right in our own hallways!