- NAME: Nellie Bly
- OCCUPATION: Journalist
- BIRTH DATE: May 05, 1864
- DEATH DATE: January 27, 1922
- EDUCATION: Indiana Normal School
- PLACE OF BIRTH: Cochran's Mills, Pennsylvania
- PLACE OF DEATH: New York, New York
- Originally: Elizabeth Jane Cochran
- Full Name: Elizabeth Jane Cochrane Seaman
- AKA: Elizabeth Cochrane Seaman
- AKA: Elizabeth Cochran
- AKA: Nellie Bly
- Nickname: "Pink"
- Nickname: "Pinky"
- AKA: Elizabeth Jane Cochrane
- AKA: Elizabeth Cochrane
Best Known For
Nellie Bly was an American journalist known for her investigative and undercover reporting. She earned acclaim in 1887 for her exposé on the conditions of patients at Bellevue Hospital in New York City, and achieved further fame after the New York World sent her on a trip around the world in 1889.
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In 1887, Bly relocated to New York City, where she began working for the newspaper New York World, the publication that would later become famously known for spearheading "yellow journalism."
One of Bly's earliest assignments at the paper was to author a piece detailing the experiences endured by patients of Bellevue Hospital, a mental institution on Blackwell's Island (now Roosevelt Island) in New York City. In an effort to most accurately expose the conditions at the asylum, she pretended to be a mental patient in order to be committed to the facility, where she lived for 10 days.
Bly's exposé, published in the World soon after her return to reality, was a massive success. The piece shed light on a number of disconcerting conditions at Bellevue at the time, including neglect and physical abuse, and ultimately spurred a large-scale investigation of the institution as well as much-needed improvements in health care. Later in 1887, Bly's Bellevue series was later reprinted as a composition, Ten Days in a Mad-House; the novel was published in New York City by Ian L. Munro.
Led by New York Assistant District Attorney Vernon M. Davis, with Bly assisting, the Bellevue investigation resulted in a number of changes in New York City's Department of Public Charities and Corrections (later split into separate agencies, the Department of Correction and the Department of Public Charities, which oversees the city's hospitals); these changes (per the recommendations of jury members in 1888) included a larger appropriation of funds for the care of mentally ill patients, additional physician appointments for stronger supervision of nurses and other health-care workers, and regulations to prevent overcrowding and fire hazards at the city's medical facilities.
Bly followed her Bellevue exposé with similar investigative work, including editorials detailing the improper treatment of individuals in New York jails and factories, corruption in the state legislature and other first-hand accounts of malfeasance. She also interviewed and wrote pieces on several prominent figures of the time, including the likes of Emma Goldman and Susan B. Anthony.
Bly went on to gain more fame in 1889, when she traveled around the world in an attempt to break the faux record of Phileas Fogg, the fictional title character of Jules Verne's 1873 novel Around the World in Eighty Days, who, as the title denotes and the story goes, sails around the globe in 80 days. Given the green-light to try the feat by the New York World, Bly embarked on her journey from New York in November 1889, traveling first by ship but later also via horse, rickshaw, sampan, burro and other vehicles. She completed the trip in 72 days, 6 hours, 11 minutes and 14 seconds—setting a real world record, despite her fictional inspiration for the undertaking. (Bly's record was beaten a few months later, in 1890, by George Francis Train, who finished the trip in 67 days.)
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