The 20th Century Club met recently at First Baptist Church with Linda Minyard as hostess and Libby Williams as co-hostess.
The following officers were elected for the years 2013-2015 and they will take office at the September meeting: President, Beverly Warren; vice president, Jeanne cheek; recording secretary, Minyard; treasurer, Peggy Koen; corresponding secretary, Linda Eifling; and parliamentarian and legislation, LaQuita Wisner.
The standing committees are: Program and Yearbook, Norma Caldwell and JoAnn Gregory; Membership, executive board; Telephone, Barbara Russell and Cheek.
As there was no other business, Renee Mitchell gave the following report on Elizabeth Jan Cochran, better known by her pen name, Nellie Bly. This was the final two-year study on women who have changed the course of history.
Bly was born May 5 , 1864, in Cochran Mills, Penn. She is notable for two feats — a record-breaking trip around the world inspired by Jules Verne’s Character Phineas Fogg, “Around the World in 80 Days”, and as an exposé in which she faked insanity to study a mental institution from within.
The family moved to Pittsburg in 1880, where she began her career in journalism. Female writers of the day generally took a pen name so her editor decided she would write under the pen name of “Nellie Bly”. This was not satisfactory work for Bly, so at the age of 21, she traveled to Mexico, sending back dispatches on people, how they lived, their customs, food, etc. She returned to Pittsburg.
Later she went to New York, where she talked her way into the offices of Joseph Pulitzer’s paper, The New York World. There she was given an undercover assignment to feign insanity to investigate reports of brutality and neglect at the women’s Lunatic Asylum on Blackwell’s Island. Committed to the asylum, Bly experienced its conditions firsthand. After 10 days, Bly was released from the asylum at the request of the World.
At 23 years of age, she began to pioneer a new kind of undercover investigative reporting that her peers called “stunt reporting”. The peak of Nellie Bly’s career probably came when she attempted to surpass the fiction record of Phineas Fogg, set forth in the novel, “Around the World in 80 Days”, which she accomplished in 72 days, 6 hours and 11 minutes.
She married at the age of 30. She retired from journalism and became president of Iron Clad Manufacturing, which made steel containers such as milk cans and boilers. Bly died of pneumonia at St. Mark’s Hospital in New York City in 1922 at the age of 57. Several plays, books, and television movies and comic books have been based on her life. Jerry Siegel used her as a model for the type of reporter he wanted Lois Lane to be.