May 5, 1867

Nellie Bly, American journalist, was born Elizabeth Jane Cochran to Irish immigrants in Pennsylvania. Born in Cochran Mill’s, an area named for her father Michael who began as a mill laborer and ended up owning the mill. Bly once faked insanity to expose inhumane practices in the Women’s Lunatic Asylum on Blackwell’s Island. In doing so she spawned a new form of “investigative” journalism. It was custom at the time for female writers to use pen names and Cochran’s first editor suggested Nelly Bly from the Stephen Foster song. At age 25, she took a trip around the world in 72 days, beating Phileas Fogg, the fictional hero of Jules Verne’s Around the World in Eighty Days. She also was the first female war reporter in WWI.

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