Margaret Fuller, Trailblazing Journalist and Reformer

Margaret Fuller (born Sarah Margaret Fuller; later Margaret Fuller Ossoli; 1810 – 1850) was a well-known figure in her lifetime as a women’s rights advocate, abolitionist, editor, and journalist. For a time, she was considered the best-read person in New England and became the first woman to gain access to Harvard’s library.

In 1844, Margaret joined the New York Herald Tribune as America’s first full-time book reviewer. In 1846, she became the Tribune’s first woman editor and first female foreign correspondent. After spending four tumultuous and productive years in Europe, Fuller died tragically in a ship accident upon returning to America, leaving a legacy that was controversial as it was unique.

A staunch advocate of women’s rights (especially in the areas of education and employment), she was also active in the areas of prison reform and was an abolitionist before the Civil War. Many reformers who came after her, including Susan B. Anthony, cited Margaret Fuller as an inspiration. Read More→

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Katharine Graham, Legendary Publisher at The Washington Post

Katharine Graham (June 16, 1917 – July 17, 2001) is best remembered for her role as publisher and CEO of The Washington Post. She oversaw the newspaper’s involvement in the Pentagon Papers controversy and its investigation of the Watergate scandal that led to President Nixon’s resignation in late 1974.

Born in New York City, Katharine Meyer was one of five children raised in a family of great wealth. Her father, Eugene Meyer, was a multimillionaire and businessman who was  Chairman of the U.S. Federal Reserve from 1930 – 1933. Her mother, Agnes Ernst Meyer, was a politically active educator. Read More→

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Ida B. Wells-Barnett, Fearless Journalist and Crusader for Justice

Ida B. Wells (1862 – 1931), also known as Ida B. Wells-Barnett, was a fearless journalist and crusader in the early civil rights movement. She was a feminist, editor, sociologist, and one of the founders of the NAACP.

She was best known for spearheading a national antilynching campaign, through which she worked tirelessly to end the uniquely American practice of the public mob murders of African-Americans. Wells’s reputation has continued to grow after her death.

There have been journalism awards established in her name as well as scholarships endowed in her honor, and there is even a museum celebrating her legacy in her hometown in Mississippi. Read More→

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“Ladies of the Black Press” — Five Inspiring Midcentury Journalists

African-American women journalists whose careers were in full force in the mid-twentieth century came to be known as the “Ladies of the Black Press.” Here are five of these inspiring women, who worked in various capacities of journalism in this era, including reporting, editing, broadcasting, and publishing.

Since its first seed was planted in the 1820s, the American Black Press has promoted social justice and equality. The women journalists of the mid-twentieth century that will be highlighted here stood on the shoulders of two powerful trailblazers — Mary Ann Shadd Cary and Ida B. Wells-Barnett. Read More→

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The Stunt Girls — 3 Fearless American Pioneers of Investigative Journalism

When you think of undercover reporting, what comes to mind? I have to admit that the image that came to my mind was some guy in a trench coat, wearing a fedora. That is, until I learned about the group of late nineteenth and early twentieth century reporters referred to as “stunt girls.”

These intrepid young women, following in the footsteps of Nelly Bly, pioneered the practice of underground investigative reporting in journalism.

Good journalism has always been about presenting the human story behind events large and small. It’s also about holding the powerful accountable for their actions, a cornerstone of democracy (at least in theory). Women have always had the desire, talent, and ability to participate in these endeavors. Read More→

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