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Nellie Bly: Topics in Chronicling America

A guide for researching the topic of "Nellie Bly," the most famous newspaper woman of her time, in the Chronicling America digital collection of historic newspapers.


Pittsburg Dispatch (Pittsburg, PA), January 26, 1890, Page 1, Image 1. Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers.

The most famous newspaper woman of her time, Nellie Bly amazed readers across America with her pluck and fearlessness. Writing for The Pittsburg Dispatch, New York World, and New York Journal, Bly pioneered the field of investigative journalism, posing as all kinds of characters and going to great lengths to seize the inside scoop. As well as writing the headlines, Nellie Bly was frequently the subject of them as a trailblazing business leader and humanitarian. Read more about it!

The information in this guide focuses on primary source materials found in the digitized historic newspapers from the digital collection Chronicling America.

The timeline below highlights important dates related to this topic and a section of this guide provides some suggested search strategies for further research in the collection.


September 24, 1887 Nellie Bly feigns insanity, spending more than a week undercover in an asylum. Her report makes headlines, exposing the abysmal conditions in Blackwell’s Island Asylum.
November 14, 1889 Reporting for The World, Nellie Bly embarks on a race to circumnavigate the globe, an idea inspired by the popular fictional book, Around the World in Eighty Days.
January 25, 1890 Nellie Bly arrives in New Jersey to an elaborate welcome and large crowd, completing her trip around the world in a record-breaking 72 days.
April 5, 1895 Bly secretly marries millionaire Robert Seaman after a scandalously short courtship.
March 11, 1904 Bly’s husband dies and she becomes principal owner of the Iron Clad Manufacturing Company.
1914-1918 Returning to journalism, Bly reports from Austria as a World War I correspondent.
December 19, 1919 Known as a good fairy to homeless children, Nellie Bly helps to solve the mystery of the “Love of Mike” baby.
January 27, 1922 Bly dies of pneumonia in a New York hospital.