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:
- What does it mean to be "a voice of the people"? Who is "a voice of
the people" today?
- 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:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Compare Nellie Bly to women journalists today. How are their public
images and work similar or different?