Pioneering for Women Journalists:
Sallie Joy White, 1870-1909
Elizabeth V. Burt, Ph.D.
School of Communication
University of Hartford
West Hartford, CT
Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication
Annual Convention, Baltimore 1998
Pioneering for Women Journalists:
Sallie Joy White, 1870-1909
Sallie Joy White, who wrote for Boston newspapers from 1870 until her death in
1909, was a pioneer in several respects. She was the first woman staff reporter
on a Boston newspaper, she was a founding member of the influential New England
Woman's Press Association as well as an officer in several national press
groups, and she acted as mentor and guide to countless women seeking career
opportunities during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. White
was an active member of the woman's movement and used the many ties she
developed over the years to create a supportive network of women that sustained
her both in her professional and her personal life. Despite the influence she
had on journalism, Sallie Joy White has been largely ignored by historians. This
paper attempts to correct that. It exams White's life and work through her
personal correspondence and records, her newspaper work, and material published
in trade journals and other publications during her lifetime. This study
provides a key to understanding the professional experience and development of
women journalists during this period.
Pioneering for Women Journalists:
Sallie Joy White, 1870-1909
Sallie Joy White was the first woman staff reporter on a Boston newspaper, a
founding member of the New England Woman's Press Association, an officer in
several national press groups, a member of the woman's movement, and acted as
mentor to women seeking career opportunities during the late nineteenth and
early twentieth centuries. This study of White's life and work provides a key to
understanding the professional experience and development of women journalists
during this period.
Pioneering for Women Journalists:
Sallie Joy White, 1870-1909
When Ishbel Ross published Ladies of the Press in 1936 it was perhaps fitting
that she began her story with a description of Boston newspaperwoman Sallie Joy
White. Ross's book, the first published history of women journalists, was a
pioneering work, just as Sallie Joy White, who in 1870 became the first woman
staff reporter on a Boston newspaper and in 1885 helped found the New England
Woman's Press Association, was also a pioneer. But Ross, who was writing at a
time when the number of women working at newspapers and magazines had grown to
more than twenty-three percent of the country's reporters and editors, used her
description of White to illustrate not how much White had accomplished but
rather how far women had come since.
Ross saluted White's ambition, evidenced in her desire "to be treated like a
man," and her gumption in convincing a Boston editor to let her cover a suffrage
convention, but then discounted these very accomplishments by comparing her to
"modern" women reporters. White, she said, had been treated as a novelty by her
male colleagues and superiors who had assigned a youth to accompany her to
evening assignments and had lined the office floor "with papers to keep her
white satin ball gown from picking up the dust." A modern woman reporter, wrote
Ross, could never "take the time to wonder why someone does not find her a
chair," or "change the ribbon of her typewriter." The modern woman reporter,
instead, "must be free to leap nimbly through fire lines, dodge missiles at a
strike, board a liner from a swaying ladder, write copy calmly in the heat of a
Senate debate, or count the dead in a catastrophe." Sallie Joy White had never
covered fires, labor disputes, or political news, she pointed out. White had,
instead, written columns on society, fashion, and the home. "In due time," Ross
concluded somewhat inaccurately, "she married and faded into the mists."
Ross's attitude toward Sallie Joy White is an example of what historians call
present-mindedness, that is, the tendency of "projecting the present back into
the past." By judging Sallie Joy White by the journalistic standards of the
1930s and by comparing her record to those of the most successful women who had
followed her, Ross painted a picture of a woman, who though perhaps of interest
during her own time, had nothing to say to future generations. She was an
anachronism, nothing more than a figure from the past who, perhaps rightly in
Ross's view, had "faded into the mists."
Ross's present-mindedness was most likely strongly influenced by her agenda in
publishing Ladies of the Press. At a time when women journalists were still
facing extreme difficulties in establishing their professional legitimacy, it
was important that she prove through this work that women could do just as well
as men in journalism. Thus, as she traced the evolution of female journalists
from colonial printers to "literary ladies" of the 1800s to the stunt reporters
of sensational journalism to the political correspondents, Ross repeatedly
measured them against contemporary standards. Women who were the most memorable
and successful, in her account, were those like herself who were at the right
place at the right time, who were aggressive, persistent, and enterprising, who
could quickly collect the facts and report them accurately and with style, and
who could meet any challenge, mental or physical, to accomplish their task.
By measuring Sallie Joy White against these standards, however, Ross failed to
capture those characteristics that made the Boston newspaperwoman so influential
during her own time. Ross's description, for example, failed to explain why, in
1894, White was described by a contemporary as "first as well as foremost of
'all-round' women journalists in New England... known not only throughout New
England but throughout the United States." It failed to explain why White was
perceived as a leader and was repeatedly elected to office in both women's and
mixed-sex press organizations as well as women's clubs from the 1880s until
shortly before her death in 1909. It failed to explain why, upon her death, her
funeral was attended by more than 100 Boston and New England journalists. And it
failed to give her credit, as did the Boston Globe in her obituary, for the help
and encouragement she gave to younger newspaper women, "for whom she had blazed
the journalistic pathway." As historian James Startt points out,
present-mindedness "blurs the search for truth about the past..., fails to
reflect the true past and becomes an expression of a fixed idea."
Ishbel Ross, perhaps, set a standard for the way in which both journalism
history and woman's history would regard Sallie Joy White, for in the more than
sixty years since Ladies of the Press was published, White has been mentioned
only in passing in a few histories of women journalists. The usual
explanations given for the failure to produce individual women's histories --
the paucity of documentary records and the lack of recognition in their own time
-- do not seem valid in this case. Documents and evidence of recognition abound.
For example, although White's newspaper stories and columns followed the custom
of the times and were rarely bylined, she did write a regular column for several
years under the penname "Penelope Penfeather." Second, she was prominent in
local and national organizations and often appeared on their programs as an
officer or speaker. Third, unlike many women journalists, her papers are
preserved in a collection, which although not inclusive, provides a picture of
her personal and professional life. Finally, many of her articles and columns,
although it is not always altogether clear when and where they were published,
are included in this collection.
The question, therefore, is: why has the story of Sallie Joy White been ignored
and consequently excluded from journalism histories? Perhaps the explanation
lies in Ross's evaluation of White, colored by her desire to promote the coming
new breed of woman journalist: "Sally [sic] was neither the first nor the best
of the early women reporters. She was merely the symbol of a point of view that
has changed surprisingly little in the last half century" This pronouncement
that White represented the past and had not even been very influential in that
past may have sent a message to future historians that White's story was not a
fertile field for inquiry and they would do better to examine instead those
women Ross had identified as pathbreakers.
This historian, instead, believes that the story of Sallie Joy White is rich
with possibility. It provides a poignant picture of the challenges faced by a
woman attempting to first enter and then succeed in journalism during the latter
half of the nineteenth century and the early years of the twentieth. It
illustrates how women who were professionally isolated networked through women's
organizations where they eventually created a culture of professional as well as
emotional support. It shows how one generation was able to encourage and mentor
the next. The story of Sallie Joy White shows how one woman especially took
advantage of the woman's movement to promote women's place in her chosen
profession. Through this story, Sallie Joy White emerges as more than the symbol
described by Ross. She becomes, instead, a key to understanding the evolution of
women journalists of the nineteenth century.
Sarah Elizabeth Joy was born in Brattleboro, Vt. in 1847, the only child of
Rhoda and Samuel Sargent Joy. She attended the Glenwood School for girls and
during her years there discovered the urge to write. While still a teenager, she
began to publish poems, short stories, and articles in Vermont newspapers as
well as some journals such as Wide World under her own name as well as under the
pen name "Flora Forrest." After her graduation and the death of her father
in 1865, Joy moved to Charlestown, Mass. and lived with family friends while she
sought to establish herself in a satisfying job. First she worked as a teacher
and then became an assistant at the Loring Circulating Library, which was
something of a rendezvous for New England authors, intellectuals and
reformers. During these years she continued to dream of supporting herself
with her pen and published numerous pieces in New England publications,
including the Home Journal, the Vermont Record and Farmer, and the True
Flag. It was clear, however, that she was eager to move on and when her
employer extended her hours at the library without raising her pay in winter of
1869, she wrote her mother that she would leave the job as soon as she found
something else, concluding, "I will not be bullied by any man."
But as frustrated as she was with her job at the library, it was here that she
met some of the women who would become her mentors and provide her with a way
out. A Mrs. Bingham, an editor for the juvenile publication Myrtle, for which
she had written a series of short stories, introduced her to suffragist Mary
Ashton Livermore, who was in the process of putting out the first edition of the
Woman's Journal. Livermore apparently recognized the young woman's frustration
as well as her potential and offered her a job as her clerk and assistant at the
new suffrage publication. "[The job] is at the same salary [as Loring's
Circulating Library] but shorter hours and I will have time for outside work," a
jubilant Joy wrote her mother shortly after. "Mrs. Bingham says it was God's way
of showing me where my true life work lay."
Livermore apparently saw Joy's job at the Woman's Journal as only a temporary
measure, however. She believed the young woman would be of more use to the
woman's movement as a reporter for the general circulation press, which was
generally hostile toward women's rights and either refused to cover the movement
at all or ridiculed it. Livermore and Bingham began to lobby for Joy's entry
into journalism, and shortly after starting her work at the Woman's Journal, Joy
wrote her mother:
Dear mama. I'm going with [Mrs. Mary Livermore] to see Black of the
some other editors. She and Mrs. Bingham have got it into their heads
that I would make a
grand reporter and they are trying what they can do. I know I should
like that. It is
what I have had on my mind for some time. There would be great change
and variety [and]
enough labor to suit me.... Oh dear, I wonder if I shall find my niche
by and by. Mrs.
Livermore says she thinks if I am once put in the way that I shall
make a better reporter
than Miss H. [Nellie Hutchinson of the New York Tribune] because she
thinks I'm more in
earnest... [O]f all of the reporters at the Friday's convention, not
one, even the Boston
Post, which is so bright, could begin [to compete] with Nellie
Hutchinson's. They have a
way of giving dry detail and make them so terribly matter of fact and
people don't care to read them. But her's [sic] are so fresh, breezy
enthusiastic that people can't help reading them. I wish one of the
city papers would
give me a chance at Vermont, I know I'd write a good report for
It is unclear whether her two mentors actually made the necessary introductions
or simply provided the support and encouragement she needed, but within the
month Joy had been hired by the Boston Post (all expenses paid and seven dollars
a column) to cover the Vermont convention. In the following months, she
travelled with the suffragists throughout New England, wrote frequent articles
for the Post and quickly became caught up in some of the controversies within
the movement. She was the only woman reporter at the Brattleboro convention,
and her presence did not remain unnoticed, but rather was treated by other
newspapers as an event in its own right, for in those days the existence of a
woman reporter was still a novelty. One article, for example, described her
physical and girlish charm as well as her comportment as a reporter, declaring
that she had "made a reputation as a newspaper correspondent and reporter of
which any man may well be proud. And this is 'saying a great deal for a woman.'
Miss Joy is as independent as she is self-supporting and she votes for woman
suffrage." Another praised her writing, which it described as "entirely
free from the 'slang-whanging,' slap-dash, dare-devil character of reports made
in the New York Tribune and can be relied upon as truthful." Even the
Woman's Journal sang her praises, describing her as "the bright particular star"
of the convention, and the "young, beautiful, and accomplished reporter of the
Boston Post.... that old Popular New England Democratic Organ."
Joy's stories were popular because they were infused with color and anecdotes,
and often revealed a wry sense of humor. They were far from the dry and
statistical stories she had noted in the Boston papers, as can be seen by the
Brattleboro has had a fire and a flood, and now it has a Woman Suffrage
saw an old farmer yesterday with the inevitable blue woolen frock and
cart whip snugly
stowed away under his arm, reading one of the posters announcing the
he waded through it, then turned on his heel and wondered "What in the
next." That no one could tell him. An earthquake, somebody suggested.
The Millennium, say
the interested women. But whatever is to come, the convention and the
are here now.... 
Joy's coverage of the woman suffrage conventions of that spring secured her a
permanent position on the Boston Post. She was soon publishing articles on
prominent women, women's clubs, suffrage meetings, and political conventions as
well as "letters of correspondence" from vacation spots along the New England
coast, some of which appeared in a regular column, "At Home-Matters." In
addition, she published letters and articles in a half dozen other newspapers,
including the New York World and Our Society, earning more than $160 between
September 1870 and April 1871 from these extra jobs. Her work, which often
bore her byline, Sarah E. Joy, her initials, SEJ, or the pen name, "Joyeuse,"
frequently poked fun at upright and stodgy Boston. In one story published in the
World under her nom de plume "Joyeuse," for example, she reported that not all
Bostonians limited their "social lives" to church, but that some were even known
to attend the theater. In another, she lampooned the so-called Radical Club,
which she described as oscillating, "pendulum-like," between the parlors of two
At the same time she wrote articles for the Post that revealed some of the more
serious aspects of life. In 1871 and 1872, her series on Boston's North End
Mission were praised as brilliant and descriptive. "[Her articles] are so
different from the chronic dryness and pointlessness of essays on the poor,"
wrote one admirerer. "They are so readable and suggestive when contrasted with
the habitual deliverances and have done much to make people understand the
wretchedness of the poor in Boston." Her work was apparently so well
received that the Portsmouth (New Hampshire) Gazette mistakenly reported that
"Miss Sarah L. [sic] Joy of the Boston Post and perhaps the brightest lady
reporter in the country" had been hired by Our Society and was to be paid an
annual salary of $2,600. The report that Joy had accepted the offer was quickly
refuted by the Post, which happily announced that she had preferred to retain
her position at the Post and that her many personal friends would no doubt
"rejoice at this decision."
Joy maintained her connection with the woman's movement. She occasionally
published poems and articles in the Woman's Journal, continued to cover state
and local conventions and meetings, and in 1871 became the secretary of the
newly organized Middlesex County Suffrage Association. She did not forget
her own struggle in getting established in Boston and devoted many of her
articles to the difficulties facing women striking out on their own that
provided solutions to such practical problems as finding housing and getting
appropriate training for jobs. Women reading her articles knew they were hearing
advice from someone who had been there.
Although she was just at the beginning of her career, Joy was already being
upheld as an example for other women -- not only as a successful and independent
woman, but as one who was opening the way for her sisters in a promising new
field. "Miss Joy has one qualification necessary to work upon a daily paper.
She is quick, she writes rapidly, her thoughts flow freely, and her pen keeps up
the pace," stated one article under the headline "A Woman in a New Field."
"Miss Joy's position is one that many women can fill and one for which they are
particularly adapted." A sketch, probably published in the Woman's Journal,
described Joy as a woman often referred to as "the lady reporter" at the
conventions and public meetings held in Boston. "[Just] as Lydia Maria Child has
been called the grandmother of feminine journalists, so one day Miss Joy may be
styled the pioneer among women Boston reporters," it predicted.
Creating Her Niche
Sarah Elizabeth Joy left her position with the Boston Post in 1874 when she
married musician Henry K. White, Jr. The marriage brought the birth of two
daughters, a few years of connubial happiness during which she helped her
husband establish the short-lived Artists' Guild in Boston, and then years of
frustration, separation, and financial hard times. Henry was apparently near the
end of his singing career when they married and after their first few year
together he was increasingly absent from the family's home in Dedham, Mass. They
separated following the birth of their second daughter in 1879, and he drifted
from place to place, eventually settling in California. He occasionally sent
letters and small amounts of money to his wife, leaving her to take over the
financial responsibility herself and their daughters.
Despite her domestic responsibilities, Sallie Joy White, as she now called
herself, did not remain away from her beloved newspaper work for long. She
was soon publishing regular columns for both the Boston Sunday Times ("Woman's
Kingdom" and "Household Chat from a Happy Housewife") and the Detroit Free Press
("House and Home Papers") as well as "letters of correspondence" and articles on
fashion in the Boston Daily Advertiser. These columns and letters covered a wide
variety of topics, from "The Woman's Suffrage Convention in Boston" and "How
Female Suffrage Works in Wyoming," to "Househunting" and "In the Suburbs."
In addition, she wrote a series of sketches on prominent women such as Phoebe
Cousins, the "first lady lawyer," and actress Maud Granger, for the Boston
Sunday Times under the byline S.J.W. She also published a series of articles,
"Women I Have Known," which profiled prominent women such as suffragist Susan B.
Anthony and reformer Eleanor Kirke, in the Boston Sunday Chronicle.
Building on this base, White concocted a scheme in 1878 to publish letters on
"fashion and general matters of interest" in more than forty newspapers in New
England, New York, the midwest, and the south. To the New England papers she
offered the letters at no or only partial charge. She recognized that this was a
somewhat "peculiar" proposition, she wrote in her proposal, but explained that
she was offering it because she knew these papers could not afford to pay her in
full because of the general "hard times." She hoped, nonetheless, that by
publishing her work they would make it familiar to the New England public and
create a demand that would prove profitable to her at some future and more
prosperous time. "You need not fear that in my fashion articles I shall drop
into senseless puffery," she assured the editors of the two dozen newspapers. "I
shall give reliable information, which I am sure will interest your lady
readers." To the fifteen other newspapers in the south and midwest, instead, she
offered the letters at two dollars each. At a time when few women received set
salaries for their newspaper work, publishing a constant flow of material in a
number of publications was the only way they could earn a living wage. In the
next six months, White's account book shows, she received at least $310 from
thirteen of these newspapers.
By the early 1880s, metropolitan newspapers that had long been geared toward
male readers were beginning to recognize the value of women readers who,
advertisers had discovered, made the majority of household purchases. Although
Boston papers were slow to label specific women's pages or sections as such,
they had certainly begun to court this untapped market and were beginning to
publish a clearly recognizable page devoted to women readers. Here they gathered
stories on fashion, food, home furnishing, and advice of all kinds as well as
stories about women's events, women's clubs, and the occasional profile of a
prominent woman. White was not about to let this opportunity pass her by and
took an important step that provided her a new opportunity and secured her
position in newspaper work. She attended and completed a program in home
economics so that she would be able to add to her repertoire all those recipes
and household hints for which women readers were apparently clamoring.
By early 1885, White had parlayed her expertise into a fulltime position at the
Boston Herald, where she was to remain for the next twenty-one years. Here she
poured out rivers of copy on women's fashions, cooking, sewing, and decorating
advice, as well as articles on the woman's movement, issues affecting women, and
women who had become leaders through their social and professional
contributions. She also regularly wrote general interest articles based on
speeches, lectures, concerts, plays and current literature and about the
celebrities who produced them.
Creating a Network of Women
In 1885, Sallie Joy White was, to all practical purposes, a single working
mother supporting herself and her two young daughters by her work in an industry
that could hardly be called friendly to women. She had been called a pioneer in
1873 and now, twelve years later, was still an anomaly in a male-dominated
profession. True, she was no longer the only woman working on the staff of a
Boston newspaper, but the number of her female counterparts could be counted on
As is almost always the case, being in the minority was not as much about
numbers as it was about power, or rather the lack of power. In the 1880s,
professional women were not only a minority because of their numbers, but
because of the general customs, mores and traditions that permeated American
life during the 1800s. Following the years of the early republic, woman's sphere
had shrunk to the home, where her primary duty became to provide comfort,
counsel and moral guidance to husband and children. The world of work, politics,
and independence belonged to the male sphere and women who sought to enter it
were perceived not only as "unwomanly" but as a threat to male dominance and
security. Thus it was only with great difficulty that in the last quarter of the
century women began to break down the barriers blocking their way to education,
work, and financial independence. And their actions were rarely welcomed or
encouraged by the male half of society.
In Ladies of the Press Ishbel Ross noted humorously how White had been set
apart from her more rambunctious male colleagues by her white satin dress and
some of the societal expectations held by those very colleagues -- responses
that could be described as gentlemanly at best and patronizing at worst. But
it would be more accurate to say that White and other women working for
newspapers at this time were typically greeted by ridicule and even hostility.
"Young ladies who dared to lift their heads in the sea of journalism immediately
became the targets for envenomed shafts of small men," wrote one woman
journalist about the general climate of the period. "Their abilities were
questioned, their intentions suspected, their reputations bandied from sneering
lip to careless tongue, and on every hand they were met with discouragements,
until the waves of disappointment and all the billows of despair rolled over
Not only were women isolated in the newsrooms where they worked, they were also
isolated in their chosen profession. Press clubs, which had started organizing
during the 1860s, were all-male organizations that mixed business and pleasure
and routinely excluded females from membership. Although these clubs were
largely social, they also provided occasions where professional issues were
discussed and important contacts made. To exclude women from these professional
fraternities prevented them from experiencing a sense of community and
legitimacy. Their exclusion further accentuated their identity as what feminist
scholars have come to call "the other."
In November 1885, White and five other Boston newswomen took a step to change
this. At the instigation of Marion A. McBride, a special editorial writer for
the Boston Post, the six women met in White's office at the Herald to establish
the New England Woman's Press Association. Earlier that year McBride had
participated in the organization of the Woman's National Press Association,
which was founded to act as an umbrella organization for state and regional
associations it hoped would follow. The New England Woman's Press Association
was the second of these to be established, for the Illinois Woman's Press
Association had been founded in Chicago that June. The primary purpose of NEWPA
was a practical one -- "to promote acquaintance and good-fellowship among
newspaper women [and] to elevate the work and the workers." A secondary purpose
was to "forward, by concerted action through the press, such good objects on
social, philanthropic, and reformatory lines as may from time to time present
themselves." This second purpose was an indication of how rooted this
professional woman's organization was in the broader woman's club movement of
Of the six founding members of NEWPA, White, at thirty-eight, was the oldest as
well as the most experienced newswoman, with fifteen years of regular newswork
behind her. This seniority was recognized by the group in their unanimous vote
that she be president of the fledgling organization. Estelle M. Hatch, who was
thirteen years White's junior and had written for the Boston Globe under the pen
name "Jean Kincaid" since the early '80s, was elected secretary. The other
members were: Cora Stuart Wheeler, five years White's junior and with just three
years experience in newspaper work; Helen M. Winslow, who had been a contributor
to the Boston Advertiser and Transcript for two years, and Grace Weld Soper, who
was in her early twenties and had only recently started work at the Boston
Journal as its first and only woman on staff.
White was no stranger to women's clubs. Indeed, she was already a founding
member of the Middlesex County Woman Suffrage Association, the Daughters of
Vermont, and the Fortnightly Study Club of Dedham as well as a member of the New
England Woman's Club, which all had no doubt prepared her for taking on the
leadership role in the press organization. But NEWPA was the first woman's
professional organization to which she belonged and it was here that she devoted
her greatest energies. She remained president until 1890, held various positions
on the executive committee for the next eighteen years, and then held the
presidency again from 1908-1909.
Under White's leadership, NEWPA, which grew to a membership of 134 by the end
of the century, held both social and professional meetings. At its social
meetings, prominent members of the community were invited both as guests and as
speakers and entertainers, giving women journalists a chance to rub elbows with
some of the influential people of the day. Some of these speakers were
nationally known journalists, such as Jane Cunningham Croly, "Jennie June" who
in 1887 was honored for her thirty years in journalism and spoke on that
occasion of her first unsuccessful attempts to secure a permanent position on a
New York paper. Others were advocates of women's advancement such as Lucy Stone,
founder of the American Woman Suffrage Association, and Mrs. A.M. Palmer,
founder of the Woman's Professional League of New York. 
NEWPA also invited men to its social meetings. Since women journalists did not
typically cover political or financial news and were often excluded from the
locales in which political and financial figures made their less official
appearances, these men were invited to attend what came to be known as
"gentlemen's nights." On one such occasion, the guest speaker was Massachusetts
Gov. Greenhalge, who delighted his audience with his praise of the work done by
press women as well as women's clubs everywhere. On another the guest of honor
was Boston Mayor Quincy  Other male guests were prominent men in the New
England financial community, and in this capacity stood to aid NEWPA in its
benevolent activities. B. F. Keith, for example, who owned the Bijou Theater in
Boston, the Union Theater in New York, and the Opera house in Providence, was a
frequent guest at NEWPA meetings. He made it a habit of donating a generous
Christmas gift to the association's benefit fund, offered free theater entrance
to members of NEWPA, and occasionally hosted their events in his boston Theater.
When in 1895 he entertained thirty-two journalists on a dinner cruise to
celebrate his fiftieth birthday, White and her two teenage daughters were among
the guests named on the program.
NEWPA never ignored its responsibilities as a press organization and during its
professional meetings, topics in journalism were addressed as well as purely
organizational issues. In 1887, for example, the group endorsed a petition in
favor of an international copyright law that was passed later that year.
Members often read papers and participated in debates on woman's role in
journalism, and White was a frequent speaker at these events. In 1896, for
example, she delivered a paper on "The All-round Newspaperwoman," a phrase that
had earlier been applied to her. But actions went beyond petitions and
papers. In a move designed expressly to assist women attempting to enter the
newspaper field, NEWPA in 1888 established a press bureau with the goal of
serving as an intermediary between women journalists seeking work and area
newspapers seeking women journalists. And in 1898 it established a
journalists' fund to assist "distressed newspaper people in need of assistance,"
many of whom turned out to be women who could no longer earn their living by
After 1890, the New England association expanded its horizons by affiliating
with several national press groups and participating in their conventions. In
1891, for example, NEWPA joined the International League of Press Clubs, a
mixed-sex organization, as well as the newly formed International Federation of
Women's Press Clubs. In 1892 it voted to send delegates to the convention of
the National Editorial Association (NEA), a mixed-sex organization, in San
Francisco. White became prominent in each of these groups. She was elected
president of the Federation in 1891, vice president of the League in 1892, and
served as delegate to the National Editorial Association several times.
NEWPA also participated in more general women's endeavors, and in 1893 joined
the Massachusetts Federation of Women's Clubs. In the same year, it participated
in the congress of literary women at the Chicago World's Fair, where White was
one of seven New England women to read a paper on the role of women in the
Almost ironically, as NEWPA was growing and branching out, White sought to
maintain the close connections she had established among the Boston newspaper
women. In 1891, after completing her five-year NEWPA presidency, she established
the Boston Woman's Press Club, whose membership was limited to women active in
that city's newspaper work. Although the move could be seen as one attesting to
the continually growing interest among women journalists to find a venue for
their professional networking, the move attracted some derision in the
Journalist, which represented it, instead, as a sign of conflict within the
Claiming Her Place
The 1890s must have been years of heady satisfaction for White. Now in her
forties, she had achieved recognition among her colleagues, both male and
female, which was evidenced in her frequent election to office in national press
organizations and invitations to speak before the public. She began to
travel to attend the conventions of the many organizations of which she became
an officer and representative. In 1891, for example, she travelled by train
through Canada to the Pacific Northwest and California. Her journey, which was
concluded by her attendance at the annual convention of the National Editorial
Association in San Francisco, was punctuated by a string of letters to her
younger daughter and a series of signed articles that ran in the Herald between
September 1891 and April of the following year. During this trip, she
frequently gave lectures on women's role in journalism and in August 1891 was
the principal speaker for a meeting of the Pacific Coast Woman's Press
Association. In a review of the event published in the San Francisco Call, White
was described as "that pioneer of newspaper women," and her listeners were
described as "listening with breathless attention to her clear ringing
In 1893 White once again travelled westward, this time to attend the convention
of the International League of Press Clubs in St. Paul, Minnesota, as one of the
League's five vice presidents. She was the only female officer of the
organization and was surrounded by prominent male journalists such as John A.
Cockerill, former editor-in-charge of the New York World, and Charles H. Taylor,
publisher of the Boston Globe. At a dinner sponsored for the League by the St.
Paul Press Club, she was one of five speakers. "I was the one woman to make a
speech at the banquet," she bragged in a letter to her younger daughter Grace.
"And was said to have made the best speech of the evening. When I tell you that
Murat Halstead [liberal editor of the Cincinnati Commercial Gazette], Col. De
Long, and two members of Congress made the other speeches, you may imagine that
I felt proud." Her topic was "The Woman in Journalism." As for the trip, which
concluded with a stay in Chicago where White participated in the Women's
Congress at the World's Fair, she said it was "one long delight," with good
companionship, fruitful discussions, and frequent entertainments and sightseeing
White also travelled for her women's clubs and the suffrage movement. In 1900,
for example, she attended the biennial convention of the General Federation of
Women's Clubs in Milwaukee. Here, in a session on the press, she spoke on the
"growing comradeship between the club woman and the newspaper woman." Times had
changed since she first started as a reporter, she said, and club news was now
welcomed by newspapers. As for opportunities for women in journalism, she
reported somewhat optimistically, their position on the pay roll was "just the
same as that of the newspaper man." And to girls starting out in journalism who
were being pressured into stunt reporting, she urged them to do only what felt
right. "There is no power that can compel you to accept an assignment that you
feel to be wrong for you. No matter if it result in the loss of your
It was during this period also that White began to publish books on homemaking
and careers for girls. The first of these, Housekeepers and Homemakers,
published in 1888, gathered up much of the material she had offered over the
years in her newspaper columns for the Boston Advertiser and the Boston Post. A
second book in this genre, Cookery in the Public Schools, published a decade
later, offered practical advice for including the home economics program, which
until that time had only been offered in finishing schools or adult education
programs such as the one she had attended, in public schools. In 1897, her
attention turned to careers for women in her next work, "Newspaper Women," a
chapter in Frances Willard's Occupations for Women. The book, for which White
along with Helen M. Winslow was listed as an assistant, covered the gamut of
careers open to women at the end of the century, from stenography to medicine.
In addition, it offered them practical advice, such as how to get the best
training and education for their chosen career and how to pay for it. In 1899
White published her own book on this topic, Business Openings for Girls, which,
of course, included a chapter on "Newspaper Workers."
These two chapters, "Newspaper Women" and "Newspaper Workers" are especially
interesting because they reveal so much about White's view of her life work. She
is practical and down to earth and immediately sets out to smash any false
illusions. She takes pains to make a distinction between literary workers
("those who write for magazines and story papers" and "those who in the shelter
of their own home write letters for daily or weekly newspapers") and newspaper
women ("those who go into the newspaper office, have regular desks there, 'take
assignments,' and go out to attend to them, going to their work as the young men
go to theirs and working side by side with them.") Next she pointedly explains
the difference between the journalist (the "dilettante" who thinks "more of his
title than his achievement") and the newspaper worker (an "honest worker" with
"no make-believe about him or her.") White praises the girls who would go after
a job at a newspaper with persistence and imagination, just as she had. The
girl, instead, who stood hopeful and ladylike outside the newspaper office "with
folded hands, waiting for someone to die or resign, and so leave an opening for
her" would always be passed by those who had instead won the position, she
warns. And while newspaper work is rewarding in that "it catches and holds the
enthusiasm of the workers as nothing else does.... [and] opens possibilities of
attainment that are undreamed of when the first steps are taken," White warns
that it is hard and demanding work and not an easy way to earn a livelihood.
"The number of women who are earning less than a thousand dollars a year in
newspaper work is very much greater than those who are earning that amount," she
says, deflating illusions that riches are to be gained in this line of work.
After thus weeding out the women from the girls, so to speak, White proceeds to
list the requirements for newsworkers that are still valid today: quickness,
alertness, and aliveness; the ability to write well, clearly, and concisely; the
versatility and ability to write on any topic; a broad background of knowledge,
and impartiality. "Above all things, do not try to enhance your own value by
writing about yourself and your own affairs and accomplishments," she warns. "It
is simply the most palpable and laughable kind of self-laudation, and no girl of
refinement or good breeding will show such a lack of taste as to permit herself
to make this pitiful bid for notoriety."
White practiced what she preached. In all her years as a newspaper woman, she
never intruded her own personality into her writing, a technique some other
women of the period like the flamboyant Nellie Bly had instead used greatly to
their advantage. The great bulk of her newspaper work, which was published
in the Herald between 1885 and 1905, in fact, carries no byline and today can
only be positively identified by the fact that it is collected in White's own
scrapbooks. But in examining these articles, certain story types or themes as
well as a specific writing style become apparent so that in perusing the Herald
of these years, it becomes possible to spot White's stories with some assurance.
One group of stories, often appearing under the heading, "Among Working Women"
or "The Working Girls," dealt with working women, the issues they faced, and how
they resolved them. At a time when society still believed women should remain
in the home and be supported and protected by their male relatives, White took
pains to establish that many women instead had been forced by circumstances to
support themselves and that for many, the necessity of a job was not just a
stopgap measure but a permanent situation. In "The Working Girls: Necessity of a
Business Preparation for Them," she reiterated this theme, then interviewed a
prominent Boston businessman, Eben Jordan, and a woman's rights advocate, Mary
A. Livermore, for details on how girls could be prepared for a life's work.
According to Livermore, the first step was to provide training and employment
opportunities, and then to provide girls with training in the areas where they
were most able. The next step, according to Jordan, was to allow girls to move
up in their jobs, advancing from beginners to fully trained workers with no
limits on their possibilities anymore than there were limits for the boy working
his way up.
White was optimistic that woman's professional horizons were broadening. In
"Woman's Widening Ways in the World," published in 1901, she revealed herself as
half nineteenth century woman who believed in duty and half twentieth century
woman who believed she could do anything she set her heart on. The subtitle of
the article's headline read "Avenues Constantly Being Opened to Her as a
Bread-Winner -- Her Duty to Find What She Can Do Well." Over the years she
wrote about the women working in a variety of fields, including the shoe girls
of Lynn, shopgirls, newspaper women, women in medicine, and women pastors.
She often addressed practical concerns facing working women, such as the
difficulty they had in finding proper and affordable housing, and described some
of the solutions offered by social agencies such as the YWCA, or experience,
which suggested co-operative housing. But she also pointed out problems that
were not so easily addressed, such as the patronizing attitude of male
colleagues toward women professionals and the double burdens of professional as
well as domestic demands placed upon working women.
White often profiled prominent women and female celebrities, and her letters to
her daughter Grace during the 1890s and early 1900s often mention interviews she
had just completed or concerts, plays, or lectures she had just attended. No
matter who the woman, diva or reformer, White typically played up her
independence and expertise in her chosen field. At the same time, she attempted
to reassure her readers that there was nothing unwomanly in such attributes.
Thus, in 1885, she wrote this description of French novelist Mme. Greville who
had come to America for a series of lectures, one of which was given before the
New England Women's Club. Greville, she wrote, was "a woman who is not only
able to command herself, but to rule others.... There is nothing half-hearted in
her ways of expressing herself, and though she has the masculine element in some
degree, there is NOTHING UNWOMANLY in her manner or conversation." In a similar
vein, she described Emily Blackwell, the first woman to receive a medical degree
in the United States, as "diffident and retiring but [with] a firm and
determined expression of face."
In 1904, probably as part of its campaign to attract women readers, the Herald
decided to lift White out of her obscurity and gave her a regular column with a
byline. Following the tradition of other women writers who had taken
alliterative pen names, she started publishing under the name "Penelope
Penfeather." The column, which first appeared during the week under the
heading "As Penelope Sees It," ran anywhere from two to three full columns and
dealt with anything from women's clubs to tidbits of gossip on fashion and local
celebrities (rarely named) to anecdotes to general observations on life. Here
White abandoned her habit of removing herself from her work, wrote in the first
person, and freely indulged in some of the topics that interested her the most.
She frequently used the rhetorical device of antagonist dialogue to support her
narrative, as in this example from early in 1905:
I can always tell when the 'pointed paragraph' aimed at women's clubs is
written by one
of the young men on the newspaper staff. Not because it is
ill-natured, it never is that;
not because it pokes fun at them, because it is more often given to
but because it shows such a lack of acquaintance with the personnel of
these clubs and
also of their aims. In many of them there is the accusation by
implication, that by
belonging to these clubs, women are neglecting their homes, permitting
their husbands to
live lonely... and shirking altogether the duties of motherhood.
Sometimes these young
men get positively pathetic in their pictures of homes desolated by
the woman's club. I
see only one cure for them, and that is to marry a good capable club
woman and see how
companionable she is and how sensibly she manages her home.
In another column that employs the same rhetorical device, White uses the
comment made by a male guest at a club meeting to discuss women's employment in
the so-called male domains of finance, statesmanship and war. He had said these
were three areas where women had still not made their mark, she wrote.
"Instantly the statement was taken up by one woman, followed by another and
still another, until the women really convinced him that even these professions
were not entirely free from the pervading female presence." She then went on to
recount the history and present status of women in these fields.
The column presented White with a new freedom she had never fully enjoyed in
all her years of newspaper work. The situations she described were clearly the
type of situations that came up every day, but here she was clearly employing a
certain poetic license to create composite characters whom she could set up and
then knock down at will. Besides having conversations among themselves, some of
these characters often had imaginary conversations with her also, addressing her
as "Miss Pen" and asking her advice on topics as varied as the geographic
location of "table d'hote" to the best way to get out of an awkward situation.
With a gentle touch of humor and a wry wit, she could expose ignorance,
snobbery, and prejudice at will.
The Penelope columns were apparently such a success, generating a deluge of fan
letters asking for advice on a range of topics, that the Herald announced it
would also give White a regular chat column in its Sunday Magazine to answer her
readers. "I have tried to reply personally to all the letters that have come to
me since I opened this column, but they have reached a point now where I could
not write the column itself if I stopped to answer the letters," she explained
to her readers in announcing the imminent column. Ever serious about her work,
she told them she would pay attention to all "reasonable and serious queries,
which convey a genuine desire for information, but I shall not trouble myself at
all with those that outrage common sense and are sent 'for fun.'"
The Sunday column ran from January 29, 1905 until Aug. 5, 1906 under several
headings with elaborately designed illustrations: "In Confidence With Penelope,"
"When in Doubt Ask Penelope," and "Ask Penelope." White responded to questions
ranging from how to preserve squirrel skins for coats to whether a girl should
consider becoming a governess to the meaning of the phrase "hoi polloi." Under
the headings "In Confidence With Penelope" and "When in Doubt Ask Penelope," the
column filled a full page in the magazine. After a few months, its heading was
changed to "Ask Penelope" and it was reduced to the top half of a full page.
After nearly a year, it was bumped to the bottom half of a page by a new column,
"Aunt Mary's Talks," and finally was limited to the bottom quarter, sharing the
page with the "Aunt Mary" quarter page and half a page of fashion illustrations.
Then, abruptly, on August 5, 1906, both the Penelope and the Aunt Mary columns
were replaced by a more general interest feature, "Things You Don't See Every
Shortly after, White left the Boston Herald and resumed her weekday "As
Penelope Sees It" column at the Boston Advertiser, for which she had worked
thirty years earlier. This she continued to publish until shortly before her
death from cancer in March 1909 at the age of 62.
Sallie Joy White was remembered by her contemporaries for three
accomplishments: her success as a newspaper woman; her role in providing support
and guidance for women following in her path, and her unswerving dedication to
the field she had chosen while still a teenager. Her heartfelt wish expressed to
her mother in 1870 that she might someday find her niche and earn her living by
her pen had been fulfilled, though not without struggle. As she told the girls
who read her book on careers for women, newspaper work was a demanding and not
always financially rewarding job; only the dedicated and talented would succeed.
Through her many articles and personal letters, the late twentieth century
observer gets a sense especially of this dedication, or perhaps determination
would be a better word. For although her career from 1870 to 1908 may appear
smooth and inevitable to a casual observer, there were many difficult moments
when she had to test her courage and conviction that newspaper work was the best
place in the world for her. After her marriage she showed fortitude and
ingenuity in convincing newspapers to use her work and making a name for herself
before the New England public. Throughout the years she deflected the barbs and
cynicism of male colleagues by doing her job and doing it well and insisting
that women could do the job as well as men. Even after twenty-seven years in the
business, the job did not get easier. In 1897, she was reduced to space rates by
the Herald and returned to the tactics she had used as a novice. She laid siege
on the editor's office to get assignments, returning home empty-handed when he
was out of town on business, but always going back the next day. And when she
did succeed in getting an assignment she was as jubilant as she had been at the
age of twenty-three when she got her first assignment to cover the Vermont
suffrage convention, writing her daughter, "I am going to have an article in
Sunday's Herald -- a column and a half!!!!"
Although White's personal documents make few mentions of her commitment to
other newspaper women, a few letters asking her to help someone publish their
work or find a job indicate the esteem in which they held her and the faith they
had in her willingness to help. This commitment is further illustrated in
her consistent encouragement to girls to find their own path and prepare
themselves for a future in which they would be satisfied and fulfilled. This was
a message she expressed in her speaking engagements, her published books, and in
her newspaper writing, whether through interviews with women who had the power
to serve as role models or the rhetorical devices of the Penelope columns. This
encouragement was certainly extended through her activities in the press
organizations, in which she played a leadership role, as well as her women's
clubs, where woman's advancement was the number one item on the agenda.
Ishbel Ross was right when she said Sallie Joy White had never leaped through a
fire line, dodged missiles at a strike, or climbed the swaying ladder of a ship
at sea. White had never grown wings and flown either. (Nor had she ever voted.)
But she had played an active part in the process that made not only crime,
catastrophe, and "action" reporting possible for newspaper women of future
generations, but also investigative reporting, political analysis, and all the
other kinds of reporting and editorial work in journalism. She had laid the
groundwork so that women journalists would no longer be without precedent or a
history; they would have valid role models upon whom to build their own careers.
Through her work, both as a newswoman and as an organizer, White contributed to
creating a climate that allowed the women who followed her to blaze their own
trails. That these trails might be different than the one she had taken would
have surprised Sallie Joy White least of all.
 Ishbel Ross, Ladies of the Press (New York: Harper and Bros., 1936), 1-2.
 As historian Susan Henry pointed out in 1976, early journalism historians
typically excluded women journalists from their work. Susan Henry, "Colonial
Woman Printer as Prototype: Toward a Model for the Study of Minorities,
Journalism History 3 (1976): 20-24.
 "Gainful Workers 10 Years Old and Over." Table 1, Fifteenth Census of the
United States, 1930, Population, Vol. V, General Report on Occupations
(Washington, D.C.: United States Government Printing Office, 1933), 20.
 Ross, 2. Ross's breezy account of Sallie Joy Whites' career contains
several inaccuracies. First, Ross spells her name incorrectly ("Sally" rather
than "Sallie"). Second, White's first major assignment was to cover a suffrage
convention in Vermont and later she wrote on a wide variety of subjects. Third,
White did not retire from journalism upon marriage as Ross implies, but returned
to journalistic work within five years, supported herself and her two daughters
on her earnings, and continued until her death in 1909.
 James D. Startt, "The Study of History: Interpretation or Truth?" in
Perspectives on Mass Communication History, ed. Wm. David Sloan (Hillsdale,
N.J.: Lawrence Earlbaum Associates, 1991), 18.
 Women continued in the struggle to establish their legitimacy in the
profession well into the 1980s and even into the 1990s. See Maurine Beasley,
Newspapers: Is There a New majority Defining the News?" in Women in Mass
Communication, 2nd ed., ed. Pamela J. Creedon (Teller Oaks, Calif.: Sage, 1993),
 Ross, 17, 22, 23, 25, 26. Ross had excelled by these standards, and before
her retirement after fourteen years of active newspaper work at the New York
Tribune in 1933, had covered some of the biggest newspaper stories of the day
such as the Lindbergh kidnapping and the Halls-Mills Murder trial. (Beasley and
 Evelyn Greenleaf Sutherland, "Women of the Press," Woman's Edition of the
Boston Post, 11 Feb. 1894, 24.
 "Mrs. White, Newswriter, Founder Boston Women's Press Club, Dies," Boston
Globe, 26 March 1909, Sallie Joy White Papers, Schlesinger Library, Radcliffe
College, Cambridge, Mass. (hereafter SJW Papers), A126, box 1, folder 1.
 Startt, 18.
 See for example: Marion Marzolf, Up From the Footnote (New York: Hastings
House, 1977), 19-20; Maurine Beasley and Sheila J. Gibbons, Taking Their Place:
A Documentary History of Women and Journalism (Washington, D.C.: American
University Press, 1993), 111. A profile of White actually preceded Ross's by
eight years. See Huldah M. Johnson, "Sally [sic] Joy White -- the First Woman
Reporter," The Matrix 13:3 (28 Feb. 1928), 1, 6. White is not included in any of
the recent histories of women journalists and a database and library catalogue
search of other titles failed to produce any works dealing specifically with
 The collection, which is in the Schlesinger Library archives at Radcliffe
College, although extensive, poses problems in that little of the material is
dated. Several scrapbooks contain White's clippings, but these were all cut out
and pasted down so that very often neither the name of the newspaper, the date
of the article, nor the page number on which it appeared are visible. Many
articles cited in this paper, therefore, are identified only as "undated
newspaper clipping," although the scrapbook in which each clipping is contained
is identified by volume number. The author will attempt to identify these
articles by date and publication as well as whether a byline was used whenever
possible. In addition, the author was able to identify many of White's articles
in the Boston Herald by putting them into the context provided by her manuscript
collection. As for letters in the collection, most of them were collected either
by her mother, Rhoda Joy Hanson (hereafter RJH), or her younger daughter, Grace
Elinor Joy White (hereafter GEJW). As for the organizational records of the New
England Woman's Press Association, of which White was a founder and the first
president, those of its first twenty-three years, from 1885-1908, were destroyed
in the great Chelsea fire of 1908 (Myra B. Lord, History of the New England
Woman's Press Association [Newton, Mass.: Graphic Press, 1932], 205).
 Ross, 2.
 "Mrs. Sallie Joy White," The Journalist, 16 March 1889, 13; SJW Papers,
A126, box 2, volume 1; various published articles, SJW Papers, A126, box 1,
 "Mrs. Sallie Joy White," The Journalist, 16 March 1889, 13.
 Various clipped articles, including "Under the Maples," Suburban News,
"Broken Hearted," The Wide World, and "A Woman's Work," Vermont Record, SJW
Papers, A126, box 1, volume 1; SJW to RJH, February 9, SJW Papers, A126, box 1,
 Sarah Elizabeth Joy (hereafter SEJ) to RJH, January , SJW Papers,
A126, box 1, folder 5.
 SEJ to RJH, January , SJW Papers, A126, box 1, folder 5. The first
issue of the Woman's Journal, the publication of the American Woman Suffrage
Association, was published 8 January 1870.
 For discussion of press coverage of the woman's movement, see: Elizabeth
V. Burt, "Press Coverage of Woman Suffrage," chap. in "An Arena for Debate:
Woman Suffrage, the Liquor Industry and the Press, Wisconsin, 1910-1919," (Ph.D.
Diss, University of Wisconsin-Madison, 1994), 388-429; Anne Messerly Cooper,
"Suffrage as News: Ten Dailies' Coverage of the Nineteenth Amendment," American
Journalism 1 (Summer 1983), 75-91; Lauren Kessler, "The Ideas of Woman Suffrage
and the Mainstream Press," Oregon Historical Quarterly 84:3 (1983):257-75; Linda
Steiner, Nineteenth Century Suffrage Periodicals: Conceptions of Womanhood and
the Press," in Ruthless Criticism: New Perspectives in U.S. Communication
History, ed. William S. Solomon and Robert W. McChesney (Minneapolis: University
of Minnesota Press, 1993), 66-67.
 SEJ to RJH, January 30th, (1870), SJW Papers, A126, box 1, folder 5.
 SEJ to RJH, February 24, , SJW Papers, A126, box 1, folder 5.
 She quickly adopted the "party line" espoused by the American Woman
Suffrage Association, led by Lucy Stone and Mary Livermore and expressed in the
Woman's Journal, and rejected the broader and more radical platform of the
National Woman Suffrage Association, led by Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady
Stanton. This stance is apparent in a letter in which she wrote her mother that
she didn't "like Susan Anthony she is too partial and too broad in her
missionary way. Her belief in regard to the marriage laws is enough to [word
crossed out] her" (SEJ to RJH, 30 January , SJW Papers, A126, box 1,
folder). Later that year she joined the newly formed Middlesex County Suffrage
Association and became its secretary (SJW Papers, A126, box 2, volume 2).
 "An Innovation for the Times," undated news clipping, April 1870, SJW
Papers, A126, box 2, volume 2.
 "A Lady Reporter," undated newspaper clipping, SJW Papers, A126, box 2,
 Undated clipping, SJW Papers, A126, box 2, volume 2.
 "We Must Not Forget," undated clipping from the Woman's Journal, SJW
Papers, A126, box 2, volume 2.
 "Woman's Suffrage," Boston Post, 2 March 1870, SJW Papers, A126, box 2,
 Undated articles, SJW Papers, A126, box 4, vol. 3 and box 5, volume 4;
Account book, SJW Papers, A126, box 3, volume 14.
 "Backsliddin' Boston: The Puritan City and the Boston of Today," New York
World, 9 Dec. 1870, SJW Papers, A126, box 2, volume 2; "The Fountain of Ism,"
New York World, 22 Nov. 1870, SJW Papers, A126, box 4, volume 3.
 "North Street," 1871, "The Industrial School for Women," 9 May 1871,
"North Street Mission," 1871, and "North End Mission Fair," 5 February 1872, all
in Boston Post, SJW Papers, A126, box 5, volume 4; undated newspaper clipping,
SJW Papers, A126, box 5, volume 4.
 "Miss Joy and 'Our Society,'" undated clipping, SJW papers, box 4, volume
 Results of Election, Middlesex County Suffrage Association, SJW Papers,
A126, box 2, volume 2.
 Undated news clippings, SJW Papers, A126, box 5, volume 4.
 "Artists' Guild," Boston Times, June 1880, SJW Papers, A126, box 1, folder
2 "Biographical Essay," written by granddaughter Sallie P. Talbot, SJW Papers,
M129, box 1, folder 1; Sallie Joy White (hereafter SJW) to GEJW, September 1891,
SJW Papers, A126, box 1, folder 9; SJW to GEJW, 8 May 1894, SJW Papers, A126,
box 1, folder 10; SJW to GEJW, 29 April 1896, SJW Papers, A126, box 1, folder
 She was assisted in her domestic duties by her mother, who came to care for
the girls and keep house while White pursued her career.
 "Fashions in Jewelry," Boston Daily Advertiser, 19 December 1874 and
various undated clippings from Mrs. Sallie Joy White, "House and Home Papers,"
Detroit Free Press, SJW Papers, A126, box 4, volume 3; Sallie Joy White,
"Weighing the Girls in Our Public Schools," in column "Woman's Kingdom," Boston
Sunday Times, n.d., SJW Papers, A126, box 5, volume 4.
 Various articles, SJW Papers, A126, box 5, volume 4.
 Volume: Letters of Correspondence for 1878-1879, SJW Papers, A126, box 2,
 Lord, 12.
 These articles will be discussed below.
 Between 1885 and 1887, for example, she wrote a series of articles on a
lecture series given by historian John Fiske. In order to satisfy the demanding
lecturer, who wanted to see the proofs of her articles before they were
published, she interviewed him, read his lectures, read his lecture abstracts
and attended his lectures before writing each article (John Fiske to SJW, 4 Jan.
1885 and 10 Nov. 1887, SJW Papers, A126, box 1 folder 14; "The Idea of God,"
Boston Herald, 22, Nov. 1885, 18; "New Orleans to Stone River: The Second
Lecture in Mr. Fiske's Civil War Series," Boston Herald 25 Nov. 1885, 8; The
Siege of Vicksburg: The Overthrow of Gibraltar," Boston Herald, 2 Dec. 1885, 3).
 In 1880, just 288 women -- less than three percent of all working
journalists -- were identified as full-time journalists by the U.S. census.
Perhaps three times that number were working as part-time correspondents and
contributors (Beasley and Gibbons, 10; Elizabeth V. Burt, "A Bid for Legitimacy:
The Woman's Press Club Movement, 1881-1900," Journalism History 23:2 (Summer
 For discussion of the concept of the woman's sphere, see Barbara Welter,
"The Cult of True Womanhood: 1820-1860," American Quarterly 18 (1966): 151-74.
 Ross, 1-2.
 S. D. Fry, "Newspaper Women," Philadelphia Herald, n.d., quoted in
"Newspaper Women," Journalist, 19 Nov. 1892, 10.
 Beasley and Gibbons, 10; Burt, "A Bid for Legitimacy," 73; H. S. Becker,
Outsiders (New York: Free Press, 1963).
 Marion A. McBride, "Report to the 1890 Convention of the National
Editorial Association," Journalist, 5 July 1890, 12; Lord, 51. The Woman's
National Press Association changed its name to the Woman's International Press
Association in 1887.
 The first women's clubs were organized in the late 1860s and grew to have a
national membership of more than one million by 1890, when the General
Federation of Women's Clubs was formed. For discussion of the woman's club
movement, see: Karen J. Blair, The Clubwoman as Feminist: True Womanhood
Redefined, 1869-1914 (New York: Holmes and Meier, 1980 and Eleanor Flexner,
Century of Struggle: The Woman's Rights Movement in the united States, rev. ed.
(Cambridge, Mass.: Belknap Press of Harvard University, 1975), 182-196.
 Lord, 12-18; "New England Woman's Press Association," Journalist, 26 Jan.
1889, 7. Winslow later rose to prominence in the General Federation of Women's
Clubs as editor of the federation journal Club Woman. Wheeler, who often
published in newspapers under the pen name "Trebor Ohl," later became best known
for her fiction, poetry, and biographies of prominent women.
 "Woman Suffrage -- Convention in Cambridge," undated clipping, SJW Papers,
A126, box 2, volume 2; various obituaries of SJW, SJW Papers, A126, box, folder
 Lord, 1-209, passim.
 "Boston," Journalist, 13 Oct. 1888, 4; "The Club Women," Fourth Estate, 10
Dec. 1898, 5. Members came from the New England states as well as Nova Scotia.
Membership was not limited to newspaper women, and many members were authors who
 Lord, 24-25, 76, 105.
 Lord, 77, 104.
 Lord, 23, 115; "Very Beautiful Playhouse," Boston Sunday Herald, 23 Oct.
1898, 17; "With the Clubs and Association," Fourth Estate, 14 Jan. 1897, 9;
"Mr. B. F. Keith's Compliments to Mrs. Sallie Joy White," SJW Papers, A126, box
1, folder 29.
 Lord, 27-28.
 Lord, 105; Sutherland, 24.
 "New England Woman's Press Association," Journalist, 26 Jan. 1889, 7.
 Lord, 29; "Boston," Journalist, 13 Jan. 1894, 12; "The Club Women," Fourth
Estate, 10 Dec. 1898, 5.
 Charles W. Price to SJW, 20 Jan. 1892, SJW Papers, box 1, folder 27; Lord,
 Lord, 65; SJW to GEJW, 21 May 1893, SJW Papers, A126, box 1, folder 10.
 Margherita Arlina Hamm, "Among the Newspaper Women," Journalist, 30 April
1892, 6. Hamm was generally supportive of women journalists and their
organizations but was often torn between the desire to be supportive and the
urge to be entertaining.
 Over the years she presented a lecture entitled "Leaves From a Reporter's
Notebook," in which she recounted her experiences as a reporter. Between 1906
and 1909, she advertised a series of lectures that included this title as well
as "The World and its Newspapers," "Women in Professions and Industries," and
"The Story of the Club Movement." (" A Reporter's Notebook," undated clipping,
SJW Papers, A126, box 1, folder 28; "Mrs Sallie Joy White," flyer announcing
topics of lectures 1907-1908, SJW Papers, A126, box 1, folder 9; "Mrs. Sallie
Joy White," advertisement announcing topics of lectures 1908-1909, in Official
Register of Women's Clubs in America, 1908-1909, SJW Papers, A126, box 1, folder
 "Canada's National Park," 24 Aug. 1891, "Across the Puget Sound," 1 Sept.
1891, "Over the Great Divide," 27 Sept. 1891, "Beautiful Portland, 20 Dec.
1891, "Saving the Children: Growth of San Francisco's Free Kindergartens," 2
April 1892, all signed Sallie Joy White, SJW Papers, M129, box 1, folder 3.
 Quoted in Di Vernon, "What is a Newspaper Woman?" Journalist, 15 Sept.
1891, 7. Unfortunately, the original article published in the San Francisco
Morning Call used the event to ridicule the women journalists attending the
event, mistakenly labelling them as "blue-stockings" with no experience in
 "International League of Press Clubs," Journalist, 15 1893, 12; Program
for International League of Press Clubs Dinner, St. Paul, Minnesota, 19 May
1893, SJW Papers, A126, box 1, folder 29; SJW to GEJW, May 1893, SJW Papers,
A126, box 1, folder 10; "Columbia Exposition: Chicago and the World's Fair,
Women at the Fair," Boston Herald, 30 April, 1893, 8. White brought along her
sixteen-year-old daughter, Bessie, and travelled in the "official" car with
Helen and Harold Winslow, where the party was "royally fixed."
 "Milwaukee Convention," The Club Woman, July 1900, 145.
 Sallie Joy White, Housekeepers and Homemakers (Boston: Jordan Marsh and
Co., 1888); Frances E. Willard, assisted by Helen M. Winslow and Sallie Joy
White, Occupations for Women: A Book of Practical Suggestions for the Material
Advancement, the Mental and Physical Development, and the Moral and Spiritual
Uplift of Women (New York: Success Company, 1897); Sallie Joy White, Business
Openings for Girls (New York: The Werner Company, 1899). This last work was
dedicated to "my dear little daughters, Bessie and Grace, who have been such an
inspiration in my work for other girls." She also published "Letter to American
Girls," in George James Bayles' American Women's Legal Status (New York:
 White, "Newspaper Women," 283-91.
 White, "Newspaper Women," 91.
 Brooke Kroeger, Nellie Bly: Daredevil, Reporter, Feminist (New York: Times
 "The Working Girls," Boston Sunday Herald, 3, Jan. 1885, SJW Papers, M129,
box 1, folder 2.
 "Woman's Widening Way of the World," Boston Herald, 1901, SJW Papers, M129,
box 1, folder 4.
 "The Shoe Girls of Lynn, " Boston Sunday Herald, 22 July 1888, SJW Papers,
M129, box 1, folder 2; "The Working Girls: The Girls in the Stores, How They
Live, and Where," Boston Herald, 20 Dec. 1885, 8; "Women on Newspapers: Popular
Impression is Wrong -- One of Best Professions, Which Opens Possibilities, But
Requires Exceptional Qualities," Boston Herald, 1899, SJW Papers, M146, box 1,
folder 4; "Women in Medicine: Dr. Emily Blackwell Tells How One was First
Admitted," Boston Herald, 1 Feb. 1891, SJW Papers, M129, box 1, folder 3; "Work
of Women Pastors," Boston Herald, 14 Sept. 1897, SJW Papers, M129, box 1, folder
 "Among Working Women: The Young Women's Christian Association, and What it
Does," Boston Herald, 3 Nov. 1885, 8; "Boston's Working Girls: How They Make
Home Life for themselves and each other," Boston Sunday Herald, 4 July 1897, SJW
Papers, M146, box 1 folder 4.
 "Greatest Drawback for Women Lawyers: Men Who Treat Them as Mere Women and
Not Practitioners," Boston Sunday Herald, November 1902; "Nervous Prostration
the Foe of Woman: Due to New Conditions Which Make More Demands on Her and Less
Upon Man," Boston Herald, 5 April 1902,, both in SJW Papers, M129, box 1, folder
 SJW to GEJW, various letters, SJW Papers, A126, box 1, folders 9-14.
 "Mme Greville Dined: Reception by the New England Women's [sic] Club,"
Boston Sunday Herald, 2 Dec. 1885; "Mme. Henri Greville: An Interview With the
Distinguished Novelist," Boston Herald 19 Nov. 1885, 5; "Women in Medicine,"
Boston Herald, 1 Feb. 1891, SJW Papers, M129, box 1, folder 3.
 Boston newspapers were stodgy in comparison to their more competitive
brethren in New York, and were typically a full decade behind papers like the
New York World and the New York Journal in both their appearance and their
In 1894, the Herald started running an illustrated advertisement on its
editorial page that claimed it was widely read by women because it provided them
the kind of information they wanted in a newspaper. And it gradually adapted its
content and layout to accommodate those interests. During that decade, for
example, the Herald began publishing syndicated women's columns, such as Max
Eliot's (Anna Mai Ellis) "Chats About Folks" and M. E. W.'s column on women's
interests. In 1893, the Herald started publishing a weekly column, "Among the
Women," which soon became "Among the Women's Clubs." The Herald did not label
its women's pages until 1904, when it introduced its "Editorial and Women's
Section." This became the "Women's Section" later that year (Boston Herald,
 This author has not discovered how this ludicrous name was chosen. It may
have contributed to historians' failure to take White seriously.
 This rhetorical device stages a confrontation between two antagonists who
hold opposing points of view and allows the author's view to prevail through
persuasion, logic, and evidence (Shelley Fisher Fishkin and Carla L. Peterson,
"'We Hold These Truths to be Self-Evident': The Rhetoric of Frederick Douglass's
Journalism," in New Literary and History Essays, ed. Eric J. Sundquist and Fred
Doug (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1990), 191.
 Penelope Penfeather, "As Penelope Sees It," 6 Feb. 1905, Boston Herald,
SJW Papers, M129, box 1, folder 6.
 Penelope Penfeather, "As Penelope Sees It," 11 Feb. 1905, Boston Herald,
SJW Papers, M129, box 1, folder 6.
 Penelope Penfeather, "As Penelope Sees It," Boston Herald, February 1905 -
May 1907, passim, SJW Papers, M129, box 1-2, folders 6 - 10.
 Penelope Penfeather, "As Penelope Sees It," Boston Herald, 23 Jan. 1905,
SJW Papers, box 1, folder 5.
 Boston Herald, January 1905-September 1906, passim.
 Various clippings, Sallie Joy White Papers, M129, box 2, folders 9-10.
 SJW to GEJW, 15 March 1897, 18 March 1897, 21 June 1897, SJW Papers, A126,
box 1, folders 12 and 13.
 See for example, Lucy Stone to SJW, n.d., SJW Papers, A126, box 1, folder
21; Mary E. Blake to SJW, 20 April 1890, SJW Papers, A126, box 1, folder 15.