She was beautiful and only twenty-three years old when Elizabeth Cochran Seaman (1864-1922) better known by her pen name of Nellie Bly pretended to be insane in order to be committed to a notorious asylum, and write a piece of investigative journalism which produced sweeping reforms at the institution as well as embarrassing the administration running it.
To put into context the exploits of this young journalist, this was a time when women even didn’t even have the right to vote, and the role expected of most women was to be a wife and mother. Elizabeth was less than twenty years old when she started working with the Pittsburgh Dispatch which is where she received her pen name of Nellie Bly. During her early days there she wrote investigative articles on women factory workers but the editors wanted her to cover fashion and society instead. These duties did not suit her and she signed up as a foreign correspondent and went to Mexico. Only twenty-one years old she spent six months there reporting on the culture of the Mexican people, and in one of her dispatches she reported on the imprisonment of a journalist, prompting Mexican dictator Porfirio Diaz to threaten her with arrest. Wisely she returned to the United States.
Upon returning her editors wanted her to report on the arts and she quit her job at the Pittsburgh Dispatch and left for New York City in 1887. Four months later, and with no money left to sustain her she was able to gain an interview with Joseph Pulitzer who ran the New York World. Penniless and intrepid she agreed to take a risky assignment which was to go undercover in the Women’s Lunatic Asylum on Blackwell Island. Her description of the experience made her famous as an investigative journalist.
Expert in traditional and alternative areas of hypnosis, subconscious behaviorist