Wednesday, July 27, 2011
I just got off the phone with the nephew of Miami women's page editor Billie Womack. (Her radio and pen name was Billie O'Day.) She is alive and alert in a Miami nursing home. We plan to make a trip down to meet her. Her nephew also mentioned that she had kept her papers which should be a gold mine for historians.
Billie's career is truly amazing. She had an impressive musical career - including conducting a symphony in the evenings after her work at the newspaper.
I learned about Billie because of her winning several Penney-Missouri Awards - the top honors for women's pages.
I am working on an article about Billie's career.
Tuesday, July 26, 2011
We are back from our Poynter trip and our stay on St. Pete Beach. Legendary women's page editor Dorothy Jurney's brother, Dick Misener, was the mayor of St. Pete Beach in the 1970s. We also drove over the bridge named in his honor.
While at Poynter, I read portions of a book about newspaper editor Eugene Patterson. Above is a letter from Patterson to Jurney. It can be found in her papers in the National Women and Media Collection. My article about her was published last summer in Journalism History.
Tuesday, July 19, 2011
On Thursday, we are traveling to St. Petersburg for a three-day workshop at Poynter. It is named for St. Petersburg Times Publisher Nelson Poynter – although I always think that it should also be named for his second wife, Henrietta, who wrote editorials for the newspaper with her husband. Together, they created Congressional Quarterly. She had an impressive background with a 1922 journalism degree from Columbia University and then an editor for Vogue and Vanity Fair before marrying Nelson. She was the first woman to serve on the American Committee of the International Press Institute. A friend described her as "an earthy highbrow ... the most unboring person I ever knew." Nelson said of Henrietta to a friend: "You knowe, that woman scares me." The friend noted that the quote was said with pride. That is a photo of her above.
In the 1950s and 1960s, the St. Petersburg Times had one of the most progressive women’s pages in the country. In the 1950s and into the early 1960s, its editor was Gloria Biggs who was mentored by both Nelson and Henrietta Poynter. She won an early Penney-Missouri Award – the top recognition for women’s pages. She was forced out of the position when Don Baldwin became managing editor of the newspaper and wanted his own young staff. This may have worked out for the best as Gloria went on to Gannett newspapers and eventually became the chain’s first female publisher. (I presented a biographical paper about Gloria Biggs at this year’s Florida Historical Quarterly Meeting in Jacksonville. I am presenting a paper about her role as publisher, along with two other female newspaper executives, at this year’s AEJMC Convention in St. Louis.)
Anne Rowe Goldman took over for Biggs as part of Baldwin’s Kiddy Corps. In the book about the newspaper, A Sacred Trust, it was noted that Rowe became Henrietta’s protégé. (pg 235) Rowe also won Penney-Missouri Awards and was part of the team that redesigned into in a DAY section. My paper on Rowe Goldman was published in this year’s FCH Annals: Journal of the Florida Conference of Historians.) She went on to be an ombudsman at the newspaper – likely one of the first women in that position in the country.
Baldwin went on to head what is now the Poynter Center – initially known as the Modern Media Institute.
Monday, July 18, 2011
In my continued work on the women's pages of the Miami Herald, I am looking into the career of Society Writer Helen Wells. The photo above is from her 1969 retirement party held at Marie Anderson's house. A Google News search revealed that she was also a longtime society editor at the Miami News.
The above 1952 clip noted that she did club work in Washington D.C. prior to coming to Miami. It also noted that she served as a Gray Lady for the Red Cross during World War II. Here is an interesting online exhibit about the Gray Ladies.
Wells died of a fire in her home in Coral Gables in March of 1983. I am in the process of collecting some of her columns.
Friday, July 15, 2011
We just adopted a five-year-old puggle (a mix of a pug and a beattle) named Pugsley. The video above is our son Curtis meeting his new dog.
Several women's pages editors had dogs. Marjorie Paxson who was a women's Paged editor in Houston, Miami and St. Petersburg, always had a dog. When she was interviewed for the Washington Press Club Foundation's Women in Journalism oral history, she had a dog named Typo.
When she became a publisher in Muskogee, Paxson became known in the community for bringing her miniature dachshund, Tiger, to work. She said, “He was a small dog and so I thought he needed a name that would boost his ego.”
Her mother was shocked when she learned that Tiger accompanied her daughter to the office. Her mother said, “‘I don’t know about your taking that dog to the office, Marjorie. What will they think?’ And I said, ‘Mom, I am ‘they.’’ That’s when it got through to her that her daughter was really the boss. More about Paxson is available here.
Thursday, July 14, 2011
Today I am going through some papers of Roberta Applegate that are house in the National Women and Media Collection. I have examined Roberta's work as a women's page journalist in Michigan but have not looked as closely at her work at the Miami Herald. She was the club editor for the women's pages during the 1960s. This was at a time when there hundreds of women's clubs in Miami. She worked for legendary women's editor Marie Anderson.
- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad
- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad
Wednesday, July 13, 2011
I just received the good news today that our panel has been accepted by the American Journalism Historians Association. It's called: “Into the Archives: A Look at Some Major American Resources.” I will be speaking about going through the papers of Kathryn "Kay" Clarenbach at the University of Wisconsin last summer.
Clarenbach was a leading feminist but not always the most visible person. Much of her work was done behind the scenes although she did serve as the first president of the National Organization for Women. She was also the chair of the Wisconsin Commission on the Status of Women – one of the most active state commissions in the country and considered a model for other states to follow. She served in these positions while also working as the head of Continuing Education at the University of Wisconsin. She left her papers to the University when she retired – a total of 112 boxes of materials.
I am writing about how the media covered Clarenbach's role as an advocate for women. I am looking at the newspaper coverage in the women's pages, the news sections and editorials.
Unlike the national mainstream media which often ignored or mocked feminism, Wisconsin newspapers took on a nuanced coverage of the issue. And, when it came to the editorial page coverage, Clarenbach usually won.
I am looking forward to speaking about Clarenbach in Kansas City in October.
Tuesday, July 12, 2011
On Sunday, we traveled to St. Petersburg to see one of our former SIUE student-turned-journalist Holly who was in town to go through a Poynter workshop. She works at the Rapid City Journal in South Dakota. Her visit reminded me of Florida women’s page editor Beverley Morales. She, and her first husband Hector, ran the Beulah Independent in North Dakota during the 1950s. Above is an example of one of the issues. Beverley wrote the editorial.
Holly and I talked about some issues in the Native American community which also reminded me of Beverley. She ran the Native American newspaper, A’tome in Lame Deer, Montana in the 1970s and married Jack Badhorse. I have tracked down several issues of the newspaper in the archives at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, where I did my undergrad. There does not seem to be any mentions of the newspaper in the literature on Native American newspapers.
Beverley also wrote her University of Wyoming master’s thesis about four Native American newspapers.
Saturday, July 9, 2011
First Lady Betty Ford has died. She was often interviewed by women’s page editors who covered the wives of politicians.
While much of the American fashion world has focused on New York City and Los Angeles in the 1950s and 1960s, Washington, D.C. was often the place for fashion to be showcased. The wives of political leaders could set – or reject – trends in the clothing they wore to the various formal functions they attended. This was, of course, before there were many female lawmakers who could set the trends themselves.
And these women were often listening to what Washington Star fashion editor Eleni Epstein had to say. For example, Epstein recalled getting a phone call from First Lady Betty Ford after Epstein had written about the New York designer Albert Capraro. Ford soon began wearing the designer’s clothes. Epstein held the power to impact what a first lady would wear.
I am rewriting a paper about Eleni Epstein based on materials from several archives.
Thursday, July 7, 2011
Her FB post made me wonder and sure enough, the Miami Herald’s Margaria Fichtner has retired. She served in many positions at the newspaper, most recently its Arts Editor.
Here is a great post about her. This was my favorite part: “But, we simply could not allow more than four decades of such talent, tradition and history walk out the door without note. Especially since she was once Herald Club Editor. As in: she handled coverage of women’s clubs, a truly astounding concept on several levels.” (For me, this was a moment of admiration for a woman who had witnessed such change since her start in 1968.)
I was sad to see her gone from the Herald. For me, Margaria was a connection to the women of the Herald who paved the way for later women journalists. She helped me understand Marie Anderson, a favorite research subject, in a new way as I only knew Marie through her papers. She knew of the other women I have studied: Dorothy Jurney, Marjorie Paxson, Jeanne Voltz and my current subject, Helen Muir.
I remember when Margaria emailed me that Miami Herald furnishings writer Jo Werne had died. I had read so many of Werne’s articles and felt so connected to the Herald women, that I cried upon hearing the news. I remember thinking that I was comforted that I heard it from Margarita and not just reading the newspaper obituary.
I was just thinking about Margaria as I read one of Jo’s letters last week. (She had written to the director of the Penney-Missouri Awards after one of her articles won a reporting prize in 1973.) It was smart and funny and included a personal comment. She wrote that she was about to get married to Charles and pondered about the wedding location as her family was in Ohio and his family was in Texas. I was wondering if the nuptials ever took place.
Happy retirement, Margaria. Thank you for your helpful emails and please stay on FB, in case Miami Herald history help is needed.
I just signed up for my first online class for a graduate certificate in food studies at Boston University. I am going to explore more about an important element of the women's pages: food sections.
I have been collecting the names of important food editors. Most recently, I came across a cookbook edited by Dorothy Kincaid at the Milwaukee Sentinel from 1962 to 1966. She was a graduate of the Minnesota School of Journalism.
She served as the Sentinel's women's page editor from 1966 to 1974. Like so many women's page editors, she lost her position as editor when the section turned into the Trend section. She became a reporter for that section.
Wednesday, July 6, 2011
All of the coverage of the Casey Anthony trial (a local story for us here in Orlando) has me thinking about one of the few roles for women in journalism outside of the women's pages: as "sob sisters." These women covered trials in a sensational way. One woman who was first a sob sister and then a longtime women's page editor for the Associated Press.
Here is from an earlier post on Dorothy:
Dorothy Roe was born in 1905 in Alba, Missouri. She graduated from the Missouri School of Journalism in 1924 and soon began her career as a reporter in El Dorado, Arkansas. It was a weekly newspaper that soon became a daily paper. Roe described it as an ideal first job in the booming city. She wrote for both morning and evening editions, covering police, courts and oil field exposes. She also sold advertising and wrote a shopping column.
She then joined the Los Angeles Examiner. During her brief time there, she wrote, sold and illustrated a shopping column. Missing her journalism experiences, she moved on to Chicago to write Sunday features for the Hearst morning newspaper. She soon worked for the Universal Service in New York. For the first six years, she wrote for the national desk. Most frequently, she covered murder trials and kidnappings.
In 1941, she joined the Associated Press in New York. She wrote that she found women’s page journalism, “surprisingly exciting, after her long experience in the more lurid phases of straight news reporting.” She also noted, “hemlines often make headlines” and she was able to do pioneering work on women’s news. She was the main women’s editor for the Associated Press for 19 years. In 1959, she earned the Missouri Honor Medal. She later taught at the Missouri School of Journalism.
Her papers are in the National Women and Media Collection. I have done some initial collecting of her papers.
- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad
Tuesday, July 5, 2011
Yesterday was the birthday of two advice columnists whose work usually ran in the women's pages. According to the National Women's History Museum, born on July 4,1918: Twins Esther Pauline Friedman Lederer and Pauline Esther Friedman Phillips - columnists writing as Ann Landers and Abigail Van Buren or Dear Abby. When it came to the "F" of fmaily in the women's pages, it was these writers who led the way.
Many newspapers also including a local advice columnist. My favorite was Eleanor Hart at the Miami Herald. I presented a paper about her work last fall. Here is more about her.
Advice columns had a powerful role in communities and nationally but few have been studied on an academic level.
Friday, July 1, 2011
In honor of my son's current favorite animal, I am posting a photo of Miami Herald women's page editor Marie Anderson and Detroit Free-Press women's page editor Dorothy Jurney riding an elephant.
In was taken on November 17, 1969 in Cambodia. The two women often traveled together both across the country and internationally.
The image can be found in the papers of Marie Anderson in the National Women and Media Collection which has been (sadly) moved to the Missouri Historical Society.