Anyone out there ever read the ValueTales books growing up like I did? They were some of my favorite books---stories about real women and men who'd changed our world and the traits that helped them to do that. Heeeyyy....maybe a seed was planted then for GIRLS CAN! CRATE? But I digress...I loved reading those stories. And Nellie Bly's was my favorite.
That white book with a cartoon picture of Nellie behind a typewriter inspired me. It was a snapshot of Nellie's life and focused in on her expose of her first undercover story, shedding light on the conditions of a mental health hospital. I was entranced. This was a woman who embedded herself in a sanitarium at a time when mental health hospitals were notoriously mismanaged, where patients suffered, and where conditions were terrible. In went Nellie...for 10 days. And what came out of that investigative piece helped to change the way mental health facilities functioned. So, when it came time to decide who to feature in April, I thought back to that ValueTale book and put Nellie's name forward.
Nellie Bly was so ahead of her time. Left penniless after her father's death, Nellie and her family went from living a fairly privileged life to poverty. She had to leave school and help provide for her family. But, she knew she was destined for more. Her chance to prove that came when she responded to a sexist letter written to a columnist with the Pittsburgh Gazette. The letter was entitled "What Are Girls Good For?" Plenty, said Nellie. Her response was so well-crafted, so well-written, and with such zeal and enthusiasm that the editors tracked her down and offered her a position at the paper as a reporter. Thus began the storied career of plucky reporter, Nellie Bly.
Initially, Nellie was assigned "women's interest" stories---pieces about how to keep home, throw parties, and more. This did not satisfy Nellie Bly. She wanted more. She wrote about the conditions of the girls who worked in factories. She wrote about the people papers ignored. But still, she was assigned stories that didn't challenge her or offer more. So, she left Pittsburg and went south to Mexico to work as an international reporter. Returning home to the U.S., Nellie went to work at Joseph Pulitzer's paper, The New York World, and it was there that she went undercover for 10 days at a mental health institution. How do you even begin to follow that up?!
Well, if you're Nellie Bly you decide to "take on" a fictional character's fictional world record and sail around the world in 72 days of course! Wow....just wow! Think about that. It's 1888 and Nellie embarks on a 24,899 mile journey, mostly by herself, with only the the dress she was wearing, a, overcoat, several changes of underwear, and a small travel bag carrying her essentials. That's amazing. That's pluck.
And that's one of the big reasons we wanted to introduce little ones to Nellie Bly. She showed so much pluck--spirited and determined courage--that we want girls, and boys, to see what they can do when they have the determination and desire to do more, be more, and change the world.
Nellie Bly was amazing. She did so much to shed light on the plight of those whose voices were ignored, shut down, or didn't exist. Her pluckiness changed the face of journalism as it was known and as a result, changed lives.
Introduce your little one to The Plucky Journalist today! In our April crate they'll create their own newspaper, learn about the science of steamboats, and more about Nellie Bly. Get yours while supplies last and before sales close on April 15 at girlscancrate.com.