Women in Journalism
March 28, 1888 — International Council of Women, Assembled by the National Woman Suffrage Association, Washington DC
The prominent position taken by women at present is due to the pressure of public opinion, which has forced many into the front rank who have for years worked quietly and devotedly in the background. It is not due to any paramount demand; but, like a panorama, where every figure has its place, woman’s turn has come. Underlying the social structure, touching life in all its relations, woman has ever held a place which was peculiarly her own; but broader education, more of physical culture, a general coming out into the sunshine of the world, brings woman into prominence as never before. Women in journalism have made a good record.
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In 1772 Clementine Reid printed and edited the Virginia Gazette, a paper devoted to the Colonial cause, and two years later Mrs. H. Boyle started a Royalist paper bearing the same name. Mrs. Reid’s paper was the first in the United States to publish the Declaration of Independence. In the face of these facts journalism was not considered a profession open to women.
Since 1850 women have been editing departments in weekly papers with success. For the past twenty years they have been placed upon the reportorial and correspondent staff of daily papers, until to-day it is the exception to find any paper — daily, weekly, or monthly — without a woman doing either editorial or reportorial work. There seems to be a pervading feeling that certain things can be done better by a woman than by a man, and the press, highly sensitive to public sentiment, meets this demand for news and feminine views of affairs by securing the work direct from those interested.
When women take up any line of business they are more isolated in their work than men in the same position. To meet the need of this isolation, to render more complete the work of women by putting them in close communication, one with another, the Woman’s National Press Association was formed in New Orleans May 13, 1885. The object of the association, as defined in the platform, is ” to provide a medium of communication between the journalists of the country, securing all the benefits that result from organized effort. Such information as is continually needed by writers will always be rendered available, and new avenues will be opened to individuals for journalistic work. Innumerable benefits arise from mutual help and encouragement. One aim of the association is to forward the interests of the working women of this country in every possible way.”
This association has grown rapidly from the date of organization, and May 13, 1887, its character was changed from National to International, with the following officers: President, Mrs. Eliza J. Nicholson, New Orleans, La.; Vice-Presidents, Mrs. Augusta Chadz, Melbourne, Australia; Mrs. E. J. Bocock, Longreach, Brisbone, Queensland; Miss Mary M. Mullen, London; Secretary, Marion A. McBride, Boston, Mass.; Honorary Members, Mrs. Mary A. Livermore, Clara Barton, Mrs. Frank Leslie. This was the first comprehensive grouping of women national in character, because its members were drawn from many States; its interests thrown like a net-work at once over all women’s work, it became the magic chain to draw forth reports of woman’s achievements. Women, scarce strong enough to stand alone, have been helped into successful work.
The International Association has a membership of nearly 400, scattered over the United States, Mexico, and parts of Europe. To the loving work of Mary Clement Leavitt, of Boston, now on a tour around the world for the Woman’s Christian Temperance Union, is due the complete international character of an organization which is doing good for women, society, the home, school, and State, with hundreds of workers scattered over the world in close telegraphic communication, bound together by common interests. The Woman’s Press Associations, strong, practical, and broad, as they stand to-day, are the helpers of every good cause, the friends of every one in need, the open door through which all womanly work can pass into public sympathy, the avenue through which educational work can be enlarged until the grand plans of the grandest workers are accomplished facts. To managing editors of leading papers of the United States and to the officers of the Associated Press we are deeply indebted for many acts of kindness, for help when ever asked, in connection with woman’s work in journalism.
Source: Report of the International Council of Women, Assembled by the National Woman Suffrage Association, Washington, D.C., U.S. of America, March 25 to April 1, 1888, (Washington, DC: Rufus H. Darby), 1888, pp. 183-184.