OTD Nellie Bly

March 31, 2021

January 25, 1890

A journalist returns home after circumnavigating the globe with a special goal.

She met it, *with* one navy blue dress and *without* a chaperone – igniting headlines around the world and sidestepping a global pandemic.
“The American Girl will no longer be misunderstood. She will be recognized as pushing, determined, independent, able to take care of herself alone and single-handed, wherever she may be.”

Mayor Cleveland of Jersey City, Jan. 25, 1890, as Nellie Bly arrived at her final stop after attempting her goal to travel the world in less than 80 days; she did it in 72.

Who Is Nellie Bly?

  • Born Elizabeth Cochran.
  • Trail-blazing female journalist.
  • Made a name for herself as a fearless reporter covering the forgotten: the poor & mentally ill.
  • Big Break: She pretended to be insane so she could be committed to a notorious asylum – Blackwell’s Island. She spent 10 days inside the institution & exposed abusive conditions.

January 25, 1890

  • On assignment, Nellie reported on whether or not one could indeed travel “Around The World in 80 Days” (a famous fiction book).
  • She traveled alone wearing one navy dress, carrying a small bag, & using every form of transport available: ship, train, rickshaw, horse, etc.
  • Her circumnavigation of the globe started Nov. 14 and ended January 25 – in 72 days, 6 hours.
“The influenza is coming around the world in a good deal faster time than Nellie Bly…”

A Nevada newspaper reflecting on Bly’s trip during an unexpected pandemic of 1889. The pandemic, caused by the “Russian” or “Asiatic” flu, impacted travel for many and caused symptoms including fever, cough, headache, and fatigue; more serious cases resulted in pneumonia or heart failure.

Nellie completed this adventure shortly before her 26th birthday. Click on our source page for a complete list of what she brought with her on her journey.

Here’s Bly’s travel list:

“…two traveling caps, three veils, a pair of slippers, a complete outfit of toilet articles, ink-stand, pens, pencils, and copy-paper, pins, needles and thread, a dressing gown, a tennis blazer, a small flask and a drinking cup, several complete changes of underwear, a liberal supply of handkerchiefs and fresh ruchings and most bulky and uncompromising of all, a jar of cold cream to keep my face from chapping in the varied climates I should encounter.”

This Day In History:

1889 Pandemic: Part of day 64 entry


by Jenna Lee,