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Montage of images and link description. Around the World in 72 Days Imagemap: linked to kids and home
The Film and More
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The American Experience
Suggestions for the Classroom

Time Period: 1864-1899
Themes: journalism, marketing, women's roles, social reform, the Gilded Age, advocacy

At the age of nineteen, Nellie Bly talked her way into an improbable job on a newspaper, then went on to become known as "the best reporter in America." The daring Bly continually risked her life to grab headlines. To expose abuse of the mentally ill, she had herself committed. When she traveled around the world in just 72 days, beating Jules Verne's fictional escapade, she turned herself into a world celebrity.

Before Viewing Discussion:

  1. What does it mean to be "a voice of the people"? Who is "a voice of the people" today?

  2. What employment opportunities and restrictions did women face at the end of the nineteenth century? Were these opportunities and restrictions supported by laws? If so, how were the laws enforced or ignored?

After Viewing Discussion:

  1. Give students a list of robber barons' business practices that were considered unethical at the turn of the century. Have students write either an exposé as Nellie Bly may have written it or a description of how Bly might have investigated these practices.

  2. What employment obstacles did Nellie Bly confront? How did later political movements and laws change hiring practices? What were or are the strengths and weaknesses of these movements and laws? Have students write a short position paper on Affirmative Action, the Equal Rights Amendment, or the Americans with Disabilities Act.

  3. What is the definition of a role model? Was Nellie Bly a role model? As a class, brainstorm a list of role models in today's society.

  4. Compare Nellie Bly to women journalists today. How are their public images and work similar or different?

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