Women s History rebel with a cause

Feb 27, 2013
Our Women’s History Month Special recaptures the long-ago era of pioneering journalist Nellie Bly—albeit digitally. You’ll find excerpts from Bly’s most famous odysseys: “Ten Days in a Mad-House” and “Around the World in 72 Days,” as well as Common Core-ready resources for middle and high school students, including evidence-based questions, a chronology, and a booklist. Bly’s old-world syntax may prove challenging for today’s students. But patience will yield the discovery of a keen observer with a sharp wit. Anyone who lives in fear of the alarm clock will surely appreciate this passage from “Around the World in 72 Days”: “Those who think that night is the best part of the day and that morning was made for sleep, know how uncomfortable they feel when for some reason they have to get up with—well, with the milkman.” Of course, students won’t remember the days when milk was delivered before dawn in thick glass bottles. Maybe you won’t either. But thankfully, gossip has not gone the way of the landline. “I think it is only natural for travelers to take an innocent pleasure in studying the peculiarities of their fellow companions,” Bly wrote in 1889. “We were not [at sea] many days until everybody that was able to be about had added a little to their knowledge of those that were not.” As Bly shows us, some diversions are timeless—and knowledge is always worth acquiring.