Women have been publishing newspapers in the U.S. for over 150 years. Four of these amazing women are profiled in this blog, all of whom have been inducted into the National Women’s Hall of Fame. Match the woman with her accomplishment:
____ 1. The first female African-American newspaper editor in North America.
____ 2. Established the first weekly law journal in the Midwest and grew it to be the most widely read.
____ 3. The first female CEO of a Fortune 500 company, she controlled the fifth largest publishing empire in the nation.
____ 4. She edited the first newspaper for women, The Lily.
A. Amelia Bloomer
B. Mary Ann Shadd Cary
C. Myra Bradwell
D. Katharine Graham
The editor of the first newspaper for women, Amelia Bloomer, published The Lily from 1849 until 1853. The newspaper’s origins were as a temperance journal for women who could write about social reform, as women lecturing in public on these issues was deemed inappropriate behavior in this era. Bloomer, who became associated with dress reform (her name is associated with bloomers – pants worn under a knee-length dress), wrote about this issue in her newspaper as well. Elizabeth Cady Stanton was a regular columnist under the pseudonym “sunflower” and covered topics ranging from temperance, child-bearing, and education to women’s rights. Bloomer became a strong advocate for women’s rights and took up the pen on this topic herself. She sold the newspaper when she and her husband moved out of the Seneca Falls, New York area.
The first African-American female newspaper editor in North America, Mary Ann Shadd Cary was born into a free African-American family in 1823 in Delaware. Cary received her education in Quaker schools in Pennsylvania and then relocated to Canada after the passage of the Fugitive Slave Act of 1850. In Canada, Cary started a newspaper called The Provincial Freemen which was published weekly to an audience consisting primarily of escaped slaves. As she had in the U.S., Cary also established a school in Canada. During the Civil War, she recruited African Americans to fight against the Confederacy. After the War, she returned to the U.S. and became the second African-American woman to earn a law degree (1883, Howard University).
In 1868, Myra Bradwell established the Chicago Legal News, the first weekly law journal to be published in the Midwest. In order to be the business manager and editor of this paper, she needed a special exemption from the state law that prevented married women from entering into contractual arrangements. She grew the paper into the most widely read in the Midwest and expanded the business to print other periodicals as well as stationery and legal forms. Deeply committed to remedying women’s second class status, she addressed issues ranging from discrimination in employment to lack of property rights. Bradwell was instrumental in the passage of the Illinois Married Women’s Property Act of 1861 and the Earnings Act of 1869. Bradwell wanted to be a lawyer and was found qualified, although the state supreme court refused to issue her a license. Bradwell sued and lost. However, by 1872, the law in the State of Illinois was changed, under Bradwell’s influence, and women were allowed to be licensed as lawyers. In 1890, the Illinois Supreme Court, acting on its own motion and on her original application, approved her application. She was allowed to practice before the U.S. Supreme Court in 1892.
The first female CEO in the Fortune 500, Katharine Graham was the publisher of the venerable newspaper, The Washington Post. The daughter of the publisher of that newspaper, there was no thought that anyone other than her husband would become the publisher after her father’s retirement. But when her husband committed suicide, Katharine Graham assumed the reins. She grew the newspaper to be one of the top newspapers in the country and the fifth largest publishing empire in the nation. It was her decision to publish the Pentagon Papers and to break the Watergate story. Her autobiography, Personal History, won the Pulitzer Prize. Among her many honors, Graham received the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1997.
Learn about more she-roes and celebrate amazing women. These women who ran newspapers are among the more than 850 women profiled in the book Her Story: A Timeline of the Women Who Changed America. I am proud to tell their stories and help write them back into history.
(Answers 1-B, 2-C, 3-D, 4-A)