Peattie on Women Reporters

Elia W. Peattie moved to Omaha from Chicago in 1886 with her husband to work for the Omaha World-Herald. Robert became the managing editor, and his wife was an editorial writer. Unafraid of controversy, she tackled subjects such as women’s roles in society and the need for orphanages, shelters for unwed mothers, and charity hospitals. On December 2, 1892, she spoke at the University of Nebraska in Lincoln to members of the school’s literary societies on “A Woman Reporter’s Work.”

The December 3, 1892, Nebraska State Journal remarked, “The [university] chapel was about three-fourths full. The majority of the audience were students, but many of the townspeople were also there, anxious to hear what the gifted newspaper woman had to say about the right of her sex to enter newspaperdom.” The crowd was not disappointed. Peattie, after introductory remarks, “opened up her subject proper by saying that the entry of woman into newspaper work had come about naturally by the extension of industrial freedom to the sex. Where fifty years ago, a woman had to choose whether to be a wife, a domestic, a teacher or a hanger-on, now there were 359 avenues of work open to her. This has been brought about, said the lecturer, by the good sense of the men. They have simply recognized that a woman has a right to her individuality. . . .

“Women, it is true, are as a rule poorer paid than men for the same work. This is due partly to the inexperience of woman in the struggle of life, to her yielding nature and partly to the fact that she has not the ballot. It is also, sad to say, partly due to the knowledge that if a woman can not earn enough by her labor, she can sell her soul to eke out the rest. But in newspaper work, women are paid the same as men for the same work, and they have the same chance to rise if they prove themselves worthy.

“The speaker said it was but seven years since she began newspaper work, and that then a woman reporter was regarded as a curiosity. Now [in 1892] the metropolitan dailies frequently have four or five newspaper women on the staff. The World-Herald always has two or three.”

Mrs. Peattie also discussed the difficulty of balancing the demands of work and home for women, saying that “marriage did not cut short the career of the newspaper woman for many parts of the work could be combined with household duties.” If necessary, she thought servants should be hired to enable “the woman with an expansive mind” to devote herself to newspaper work. 

Become a Member!

Our members make history happen.

Join Now

Other Publications

The Bachelors’ Protective Union of Kearney

When the Bachelors' Protective Union gave a gala reception for two of its newly married, former members and their brides in March of 1890, the social club for young, ...

U.S. Weather Bureau in 1890s Nebraska

The U.S. Weather Bureau was established by an act of Congress on October 1, 1890. It took over the weather service that had been established in the office of the Chief ...

Canning the Way to Victory

During American participation in World War I the U.S. Food Administration, under the direction of Herbert Hoover, launched a massive campaign to persuade Americans to ...

The Shoemaker’s Ashes

"Edward Kuehl, one of the most peculiar characters that ever lived in Omaha, or anywhere else, was found dead in his bed last night in the back room of his place of ...

Crazy Horse Surrender Ledger Foreward

Red Dog, an Oglala Lakota who lived at the Red Cloud Agency, Nebraska, 1876-77 (Nebraska State Historical Society   In the summer of 1876, following the ...

Darryl F. Zanuck

Darryl F. Zanuck Darryl F. Zanuck (1902-1979), a native Nebraskan, produced some of Hollywood's most important and controversial films. He helped found 20th Century Fox ...

The Burlington’s Profitable Pork Special

Nebraska railroads were much concerned with developing an adequate economy in the areas they served. The Burlington, for example, had a long history of caring for the ...

Bungalow Filling Stations

After the giant Standard Oil Company was broken into thirty-four separate companies in 1911, the newly independent Standard Oil of Nebraska dominated the state's market ...

The Bull Fight

This is the perfect time of year for a visit to the old fishin' hole. But a group of fisherfolk from Plainview discovered that this bucolic pastime sometimes has ...

Buffalo Soldiers West

African-American soldiers on the western frontier are the focus of an exhibit at the Nebraska History Museum in Lincoln. Buffalo Soldiers West, on loan from the Colorado ...

Protection for Buffalo

The extermination of the buffalo on the Plains occurred largely between 1870 and 1885. The Nebraska State Journal of Lincoln on February 1, 1874, editorialized in vain ...

Buffalo Hunting

In late October 1877 young Rolf Johnson and three friends left their homes in Phelps County, Nebraska, for a buffalo hunt in northeastern Colorado. The hunt was not very ...
About History Nebraska
History Nebraska was founded in 1878 as the Nebraska State Historical Society by citizens who recognized Nebraska was going through great changes and they sought to record the stories of both indigenous and immigrant peoples. It was designated a state institution and began receiving funds from the legislature in 1883. Legislation in 1994 changed History Nebraska from a state institution to a state agency. The division is headed by Interim Director and CEO Jill Dolberg. They are assisted by an administrative staff responsible for financial and personnel functions, museum store services, security, and facilities maintenance for History Nebraska.
Explore Nebraska
Discover the real places and people of our past at these History Nebraska sites.

Upcoming Events

View our new and upcoming events to see how you can get involved.

Become a Member

The work we do to discover, preserve, and share Nebraska's history wouldn't be possible without the support of History Nebraska members.

History Nebraska Education

Learn more about the educational programs provided at our museums, sites, and online.

History Nebraska Programs

Learn more about the programs associated with History Nebraska.

Latest Hall of Fame Inductee

The Nebraska Hall of Fame was established in 1961 to officially recognize prominent Nebraskans.

Listen to our Podcast

Listen to the articles and authors published in the Nebraska History Magazine with our new Nebraska History Podcast!

Nebraska Collections

History Nebraska's mission is to collect, preserve, and open our shared history to all Nebraskans.

Our YouTube Video Collection

Get a closer look at Nebraska's history through your own eyes, with our extensive video collections.

Additional Research Resources

History Nebraska Research and Reference Services help connect you to the material we collect and preserve.

Support History Nebraska
Make a cash donation to help us acquire, preserve, and interpret Nebraska’s history. Gifts to History Nebraska help leave a legacy and may help your taxes, too! Support the work of History Nebraska by donating to the History Nebraska Foundation today.

Volunteers are the heroes of History Nebraska. So much history, so little time! Your work helps us share access to Nebraska’s stories at our museums and sites, the reference room, and online.