Betty Metz Portrays Nellie Bly at WHS March 18 program
Nellie Bly had to figure out how to appear crazy so she could work undercover at a women's mental asylum in 1887. First person re-enactor Betty Metz told the WHS audience Wednesday that after ten days posing as a patient, Nellie was able to expose the dreadful conditions at the institution by writing about it for the New York World newspaper. Investigations followed which led to needed reforms. As a groundbreaking female journalist Nellie was always ready for a challenge. The "fluff" of women's pages, common in newspapers of that time, was not for her. On assignment in Mexico, Nellie had to escape the country and possible imprisonment after sending stories critical of Mexico back to her newspaper.
Born Elizabeth Jane Cochran in 1864, she assumed the pen name of Nellie Bly after a popular song by Stephen Foster. She is probably best known for her record breaking 72-day trip around the world in 1889, emulating Jules Vern's Around the World in Eighty Days. She returned safely to world-wide acclaim.
Mrs. Metz told of Nellie's marriage at age 30 to Robert Seaman, a wealthy older man, her success as a business woman followed by widowhood, bankruptcy and death from pneumonia at age 57. Her grave in Bronx's Woodlawn Cemetery lay unmarked until 1978 when an admiring student searched it out and persuaded the New York Press Club to install a headstone.