Elizabeth Jane Cochrane adopted the pseudonym Nellie Bly which she took from a
Stephen Foster song. She was born on May 5, 1867 in Cochran Mills, Pennsylvania to become
the most adventurous journalists in nineteenth-century America. When she was 18, she got a
job on the Pittsburgh Dispatch when she wrote a furious letter complaining about an editorial
that claimed that womer were good for little but housework and taking care of children.
She covered social questions such as divorce, slum life, and conditions in Mexico for the
In 1887 she moved to Joseph Pulitzer's New York World, for which she exposed the
conditions in which the insane lived by pretending to be mad and getting herself committed
to the asylum on Blackwell's Island. She also investigated sweat-shops, tenements and the
world of petty crime and wrote articles about her undercover experiences.
The New York World held a competition which involved guessing the time it would take
Nellie to circle the globe. Over 1,000,000 people entered the contest. Her trip
round-the-world was the high point of her life. She traveled by boat, train and horse making
the globe circling trip in 72 days, 6 hours, 11 minutes and 14 seconds. She departed New York
City on November 14, 1889 and returned back to New York City on January 25, 1890. Joseph
Pulitzer sent a special train to meet her in San Francisco where she was greeted by
fireworks, gun salutes and brass bands. Back in New York City she was treated to a parade
In 1895 Nellie Bly married a retired millionaire, Robert Seaman, 50 years older than
herself. She lost most of his money after he died in 1904. While she was on holiday in
Europe at the outbreak of WW-I, she traveled to the eastern front where she reported the war
for the New York Evening Journal. She died of pneumonia in New York on January 27, 1922.
11/14/1889 Departed New York City
01/25/1890 Arrived New York City