Nellie Bly/Elizabeth Cochran: The First Undercover Investigative Journalist

After reading Pittsburgh Dispatch’s “Quiet Observer” columns about how women should stay domestic, she wrote an angry letter to the newspaper. Impressed by her spirit, they hired her and gave her the pen name “Nellie Bly.”
She wrote about divorce laws, the difficulties of poor working girls, and even went to Mexico to report on how everyday people live. But the newspaper confined her to the women’s page, so she peaced out to New York.

She then wrote for Joseph Pulitizer’s “New York World.” Her first assignment? Find out the conditions of Blackwell Island, a nearby mental hospital.

At age 23, she impersonated a mad person, and found out about beatings, forced meals, and more. Her work got the attention of politicians and the public, and brought in money to make reforms! 

Read more about her here.
Read her articles here.


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