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.
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.