She Posed as an Asylum Patient to Expose the System

“What Girls Are Good For”

Nellie Bly was born in 1864 under the name Elizabeth Cochran in Cochran’s Mills, Pennsylvania. Her parents had actually founded the town. Bly grew up in a busy household of 14 siblings. When she was a teenager, she saw an article in The Pittsburgh Dispatch titled “What Girls Are Good For.” Writer Erasmus Wilson ridiculed the concept of gender equality, insisting that women weren’t fit to work and should be limited to domestic tasks.


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For the budding feminist, this was a step too far. She penned a fiery response and sent it to The Pittsburgh Dispatch. The paper’s editor, George Madden, was so impressed by her words that he offered her a job.

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