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Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Google doodle celebrates 'around the World in 72 days' Nellie Bly

In 1880, Cochrane and her family moved to Pittsburgh. An aggressively misogynistic column entitled "What Girls Are Good For" in the Pittsburgh Dispatch prompted her to write a fiery rebuttal to the editor under the pseudonym "Lonely Orphan Girl".  The editor, George Madden, was impressed with her passion and ran an advertisement asking the author to identify herself. When Cochrane introduced herself to the editor, he offered her the opportunity to write a piece for the newspaper, again under the pseudonym "Lonely Orphan Girl". 

In 1895, this woman  married millionaire manufacturer Robert Seaman.  She was just  31 and Seaman was 73 when they married.  She retired from journalism, and became the president of the Iron Clad Manufacturing Co., which made steel containers such as milk cans and boilers. In 1904, her husband died. In the same year, Iron Clad began manufacturing the steel barrel that was the model for the 55-gallon oil drum still in widespread use in the United States.  She  was, however, an inventor in her own right, receiving US patent 697,553 for a novel milk can and US patent 703,711 for a stacking garbage can, both under her married name of Elizabeth Cochrane Seaman.  For a time she was one of the leading women industrialists in the United States, but embezzlement by employees led her into bankruptcy.

Today, search engine giant Google is celebrating  her  151st birthday with a musical doodle. Elizabeth Jane Cochran, popularly known by her pen name Nellie Bly, was a pioneer in the field of investigative journalism. Bly was born in Pittsburgh on May 5, 1864, and began her career with The Pittsburgh Dispatch.   After her first article for the Dispatch, entitled "The Girl Puzzle", Madden was impressed again and offered her a full-time job;  for Cochrane the editor chose "Nellie Bly", adopted from the title character in the popular song "Nelly Bly" by Stephen Foster. She originally intended for her pseudonym to be "Nelly Bly", but her editor wrote "Nellie" by mistake, and the error stuck.
She developed a reputation as a defender of the marginalized, covering slums, conditions for working girls and even getting expelled from Mexico for exposing official corruption. In 1887, she moved to the New York World and worked under Joseph Pulitzer.  While Jules Verne’s characters went “around the world in 80 days,” Nellie Bly broke that record by more than a week, which is one of many reasons Google is celebrating the trailblazing reporter’s 151st birthday today with a musical Doodle.  She authored “Around The World In Seventy-Two Days,” based on an expedition she took that covered many countries including, England, France, Egypt, Ceylon, Singapore, Hong Kong, and Japan.  She was also America’s first female war correspondent. She covered the World War I from Austria.

For the trip around the World, she  took with her the dress she was wearing, a sturdy overcoat, several changes of underwear, and a small travel bag carrying her toiletry essentials. She carried most of her money (£200 in English bank notes and gold in total, as well as, some American currency) in a bag tied around her neck.  The New York newspaper Cosmopolitan sponsored its own reporter, Elizabeth Bisland, to beat the time of both Phileas Fogg and Bly. Bisland would travel the opposite way around the world.  To sustain interest in the story, the World organized a “Nellie Bly Guessing Match” in which readers were asked to estimate Bly’s arrival time to the second, with the Grand Prize consisting at first of a free trip to Europe and, later on, spending money for the trip.

During her travels around the world, Bly went through England, France (where she met Jules Verne in Amiens), Brindisi, the Suez Canal, Colombo (Ceylon), the Straits Settlements of Penang and Singapore, Hong Kong, and Japan. The development of efficient submarine cable networks and the electric telegraph allowed Bly to send short progress reports,  although longer dispatches had to travel by regular post and thus, often were delayed by several weeks.  Just over seventy-two days after her departure from Hoboken, Bly was back in New York. She had circumnavigated the globe, travelling alone for almost the entire journey.

The Nellie Bly Amusement Park in Brooklyn, New York City, was named after her, taking as its theme Around the World in Eighty Days.  From early in the twentieth century until 1961, the Pennsylvania Railroad operated a parlour-car only express train between New York and Atlantic City that bore the name, Nellie Bly.

As we know, the Google search page is not plain.  It has Google logo and many a times animated expressions – which keep changing.  Google has had several logos since its renaming from BackRub.  These special logos, some designed by Dennis Hwang, have come to be known as Google Doodles.~ and today is  the musical one on ‘Nellie Bly’.

With regards – S. Sampathkumar

5th May 2015.

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