Elizabeth Jane Cochran, or more famously known by her pen name, Nellie Bly was born in Armstrong County, Pennsylvania USA, on May 5, 1864. Homeschool with her siblings she had also acquired the nick name of Pinky, for her fondness of the color and wearing it so often, She did get a brief opportunity to study at a boarding school, however she was forced to drop from out due to insufficient funds. A column in a local Pittsburgh newspaper, the Pittsburgh Dispatch had managed to incense Nellie enough for her to send in a rebuttal arguing against its sexist overtones. Her rebuttal was so impress that the paper decided they wanted her on board. As it was customary for the times, female writers at newspapers often went by pen name's and this is where Elizabeth adopted the name of Nellie Bly, which would go on to become her default. Nellie was more interested and concerned in covering stories she felt were of importance, such as feminist issues and the issues and plights of woman and ways they struggled, but this clashed with her editors who preferred her to write articles appealing to woman's sensibilities about fashion, gardening and other traditional female subjects. Not one to conform, Nellie became a foreign correspondent, and her first well documented experiences were in Mexico where she reported injustices and poor treatment of the people by the government and corruption issues. Her desire to spread the truth and report on such things almost caused her to be arrested, and as such she had to leave that country. Her time there chronicled in her book Six Months in Mexico.
One of her most harrowing yes famed and successful ventures was when she decided to take an undercover assignment on behalf of the New York World, in which she would fake being mentally ill so she would be sent to the Women's Lunatic Asylum on Blackwell's Island which had rumors of treating its patients very poorly and possible allegations of abuse. Dedicated to the deception, she even practiced making crazed expressions and acting a bit off, so she could actually be declared insane. Her experience within Lunatic Asylum was unsettling to her, as she witness first hand the horrible poor conditions and treatment patients were being subjected to. She was cold, fed poorly, was at risk of poor sanitary conditions and was even convinced that many of the inmates weren't actually sincerely insane, or mentally unhealthy, ut of course such a place might actually make them as such. Released after 10 days, her report was published in book form eventually, under the title Ten Days in a Mad-House. More importantly her work embarrassed the employers of the facility and an nvestigation into conditions at the asylum was initiated. Its budget was increased to allow better conditions for its patients.