Four women journalists to be on stamps

August 23, 2002|By FORT WORTH STAR-TELEGRAM

FORT WORTH, Texas - Four pioneering female journalists will be honored with commemorative U.S. postage stamps at a ceremony during the Society of Professional Journalists national meeting in Fort Worth next month.

Journalists Nellie Bly, Marguerite Higgins, Ethel L. Payne and Ida M. Tarbell will be honored Sept. 14.

Veteran White House reporter Helen Thomas will be the keynote speaker, said Kathryn Davis, a spokeswoman for the Fort Worth area postal district. Thomas, 82, is a Washington, columnist for Hearst Newspapers and has been a member of the Washington press corps since 1943.

The 37-cent Women in Journalism stamps will be available at Fort Worth post offices the day of the ceremony. They will be available at post offices across the country the next day.

The Postal Service has ordered a printing of 61 million stamps.

Francia G. Smith, a Postal Service vice president, said Bly, Higgins, Payne and Tarbell were trailblazers whose awards and fame opened doors for future female journalists.

Bly (1864-1922) was on her first assignment with the New York World in 1887 when she feigned insanity and gained admittance to the Women's Lunatic Asylum on Blackwells Island. Her account of her experience exposed the poor treatment of patients in the asylum.

Bly gained widespread fame in 1889 by balloon racing around the world to beat the record set by Jules Verne's fictional character, Phileas Fogg.

Higgins (1920-1966) covered World War II and the Korean and Vietnam wars and, in the process, advanced the cause of equal access for female war correspondents. In 1951, she was the first woman to win a Pulitzer Prize for international reporting.

Payne (1911-1991), known as the first lady of the black press, combined advocacy with journalism as she reported on the civil-rights movement during the 1950s and 1960s. In 1972, she became the first female African-American commentator employed by a national network.

Tarbell (1857-1944) is best known for her History of the Standard Oil Company. In 1999, New York University's journalism department ranked it fifth on its list of the top 100 works of 20th-century American journalism. She was selected to the National Women's Hall of Fame in 2000.

The stamps can be viewed online at www.usps.com. Click on "News and Events" and then "Philatelic News."

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