Friday, February 1, 2013

Feisty Females of the Early 20th Century

It's just a month now until the 12th Molly Murphy novel comes out. It's called The Family Way and it deals with the meaning of family on many levels (as well as being a really suspenseful mystery).

So to build up to March 5, I'm doing a series of blogs on the real Molly Murphys of the ealy 20th Century--women who defied all odds and did amazing things. And today I'm starting with the real life investigators.

So many people have said to me that Molly couldn't possible do the things I have her do. No woman at that time could be a detective. Aha--well I love to prove them wrong. My first true life example is Isabella Goodwin. Mrs Goodwin was a police matron in New York City, married to a policeman who died. The police department started using her for under cover surveillance and she proved to be so good at it that she became a fully fledged police detective, the first of two women detectives on the squad at that time. I've seen her uniform at the police museum in New York. How anybody could run after crooks with that high neck, tiny waist, tight sleeves I've no idea!  But I was so impressed with her that she comes into several of my books.

My other shining example of what a woman could do at that time is NELLIE BLY  Born Elizabeth Jane Cochran to a working class family she came to the attention of a newspaper editor when she wrote a scathing rebuttal to a letter in the Philadelphia newspaper. He hired her first to write a column then he started sending her out to do investigative reporting. When she was sent to Mexico to cover the election there she was a little too probing into corruption and had to be whisked home to save her life.

Back home she moved to the New York World. She became famous for beating Jules Vernes fictional Around the World in 80 days. She did it in 72 and reported it all to her newspaper who saw their circulation soar as a result. Other remarkable feats: she got herself committed to an insane asylum to report on the terrible conditions there, also had herself arrested so that she could report on the conditions in the women's prison. She was so well respected as a reporter that she was the only woman reporting back from the front in WWI.

Helpless females? I don't think so.


  1. As always, you write about the most interesting subjects. When Hillary becomes President she will have broken the ultimate glass ceiling. Then, hopefully women can be anything she wants to be.

  2. Thanks for sharing this information about women who paved the way for us to have our freedoms, keep your stories coming!

  3. Elizabeth Blackwell (1821-1910) first woman doctor in the U.S.

    Jeanette Rankin (1880-1973) first woman member of Congress, in 1916, pacifist, voted against US entry into WWI and only member of Congress to vote against declaring war in WWII.

    Marie Curie (1867-1934) Nobel Prize winner in Physics and Chemistry.

    Personally, Bette, as a Liberal Democrat, I think Hillary would be a disaster as President. Anyone who laughs at war is a fundamentally unsuitable person to hold any public office.