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|edHelper's suggested reading level:||grades 6 to 8|
|Flesch-Kincaid grade level:||6.54|
Nellie Bly: A Pioneer for Women's Rights
By Cindy Grigg
1 Caption: Nellie in her traveling suit (age 25).
2 Elizabeth Jane Cochrane was born on May 5, 1864, in Pennsylvania. Her father died when she was only six. Her mother remarried three years later. Nellie's stepfather mistreated her mother, and so she sued for divorce. In that time period, it was very hard for a woman to get a divorce. Elizabeth testified in court against her abusive stepfather. The divorce was granted. In 1880, Elizabeth's mother moved her children and herself to Pittsburgh.
3 A column in the Pittsburgh Dispatch saying that women belonged in the home taking care of children caused Elizabeth Cochrane to write a letter to the editor defending the rights of women. The editor liked her writing and spirit so much that he offered the young woman a job. There were few female newspaper writers at the time. Those few women writers always used pen names because it was thought "improper" to use their own names. Elizabeth became "Nellie Bly." She chose the name from a song by Stephen Foster.
4 From the beginning of her career, Nellie focused on women's rights. Nellie wrote a series of articles about female factory workers. She wrote about slums, sweatshops, and corruption in government. When she was twenty-one, she spent six months in Mexico. She reported on the lives and customs of the Mexican people. She later published these as a book titled Six Months in Mexico. While there, she protested the government. When threatened with arrest, she returned to the United States.
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