Nellie Bly, aka Elizabeth Seaman, launched investigative journalism by faking mental illness in order to study patient treatment in a mental institution. She began her career in journalism by writing a fiery letter to the editor in response to a misogynistic column titled 'What Girls are Good For' then was hired to write a series pf articles on the plight of working women, Being pressured to write instead about fashion and gardening, she then decided to travel to Mexico in order to work as a foreign correspondent. She returned to the United States after being threatened with imprisonment due to writing about the lack of freedoms whereby she took on the task of investigating an asylum. She believed that the horrendous treatment of the patients led to insanity rather than healing people. The food was inedible, patients were tied together and forced to sit most of the day while being abused by orderlies. Conditions were terrible with rats running rampant and buckets of cold bathing water poured over the patients' heads.. Her reports were published in a book titled 'Ten Days in a Madhouse' and the grand jury launched then an investigation which recommended numerous changes, including increased funding. She also set a record when she travelled the world in 72 days, in order to prove Jules Verne's 'Around the World in Eighty Days'. She was also an industrialist and inventor, returning to journalism during the first World War where she wrote about the Eastern front as well as writing about the suffragette movement. when she correctly predicted that women would win the vote in 1920.
AIRdirondack Art Project