Nellie Bly

Elizabeth Jane Cochrane was the given name of the woman remembered as "Nellie Bly". When she began work at 18 years of age as a reporter at the Pittsburgh Dispatch, her editor chose the name "Nellie Bly" (from the Stephen Foster song of the same name) to protect her dignity.

By 1901, 37 year-old Nellie Bly had experienced enough adventure for several lifetimes. After becoming known world-wide for her exploits as the first on-the-scene investigative reporter through her employment with the New York World, she suddenly married Robert Livingston Seaman, a wealthy industrialist 40 years older than she. Within 5 years, she was effectively running one of her husband's companies, the Iron Clad Manufacturing Company. It was in this role that she is associated with the Pan-American Exposition.

At right is an aluminum souvenir card given out at the Iron Clad exhibit in the Manufactures and Liberal Arts Building. By all accounts, Nellie Bly was eminently successful as the hands-on manager of the company, introducing employee recreational facilities, improving manufacturing processes, developing new products and increasing sales of the company products.

At her husband's death in 1910, she took over management of all her husband's ventures. Sadly, she entrusted the financial management of the companies to a man who not only embezzled, but who permitted widespread embezzlement by his clerical accounting staff. Within a few years, the company was bankrupt and creditors took all parties to court.

Nellie Bly resumed her journalism career after that and died in 1922.

Nellie Bly is a member of the National Women's Hall of Fame.

For more information, see "Nellie Bly: Daredevil, Reporter, Feminist" by Brooke Kroeger or

Back to Pan-American Women

Back to Documents & Stories

Back to Doing the Pan Home