Rival journalists Nellie Bly and Elizabeth Bisland raced around the world in 1889. Facing treacherous storms at sea, blizzards and heat waves, unreliable transportation, faulty communications, con artists and thieves, they challenged Jules Verne’s fictional record Around The World In Eighty Days. Why? They did it to win. The 1800s were a time of fierce competition when newspapers battled daily for the juiciest stories to win readers’ attention.
Nelly Bly’s most famous story was Ten Days In a Madhouse. She went undercover to Blackwell’s Island Insane Asylum. Bly’s series won front-page headlines for Joseph Pulitzer’s New York World newspaper and forced legal changes in mental institutions.
It was the Victorian Era and female journalists did not have by-lines. But trailblazer Nellie Bly did not care. After writing front-page stories for nearly three years, she toppd herself with one that would spike readership and attract world recognition. On Nov. 14, 1889, Nellie Bly launched on her famous race around the world.
It was the Victorian Era footnote about Elizabeth Bisland that sparked Racing Nellie Bly. Also a New York journalist, Bisland was Bly’s archrival. Although history offers no conclusive reason, she launched several hours after Bly, heading in the opposite direction on an experimental mail train.
This is the core story from the 19th Century that inspired our imagination and launched our journey into the events, people, inventions, fashion, places and footnotes from Trailblazing History. Our general timeframe is 1800 to 1900, although we take liberties when necessary.
Our stories are intentionally brief to be read in roughly five minutes. Since history is in constant flux, we include primary sources and links to books and other trusted resources if you want to dive deeper into a topic. We hope we can inspire you to explore Trailblazing History through our hundreds of stories that are also interlinked to offer you a flavor of the life and times of the 19th Century.
Racing Nellie Bly Timeline:
- Nineteenth Century or 19th Century (1800 to 1900)
- Industrial Revolution or First Industrial Revolution or Industrial Era (Europe and the U. S. (1760 to 1820 and 1840)
- Second Industrial Revolution or Late Industrial Revolution or Technological Revolution (late 1800s to 1914)
- Victorian Era (June 1837 to January 1901)
- Edwardian Era (Britain 1901-1914)
- Gay Nineties (1890s)
- Belle Époque or Golden Age (France-1880 to 1914)
- Gilded Age (America, 1870s to 1900)