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“Try to Lift Someone Else as We Climb”: 120 Years of the Women’s Press Club of Pittsburgh and the Women’s Movement

Carter Olson, Candi S. (2013) “Try to Lift Someone Else as We Climb”: 120 Years of the Women’s Press Club of Pittsburgh and the Women’s Movement. Doctoral Dissertation, University of Pittsburgh. (Unpublished)

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In 1891, the Women’s Press Club of Pittsburgh met in the offices of the old Pittsburgh Commercial Gazette for the first time. Over the next 120 years, the women comprising this club found places for women in the public sphere by opening doors for newswomen. The clubwomen thus actively challenged widely held conventions about feminine limitations, and, as Hazel Garland, one of the club’s few African American members and the first woman managing editor of The Pittsburgh Courier, said, they reached behind and pulled up those women who came after them. WPCP members flew in hot air balloons, covered both WWI and WWII, funded scholarships for younger women, stood up to racism within their own ranks, and were some of the first women to enter post-game locker rooms with male sports reporters. Some activists in the women’s movement have called newswomen traitors for adhering to masculine frames of news coverage that dictate covering “both sides” of an issue, which sometimes means highlighting and publicizing an anti-women’s rights viewpoint in a story. However, this dissertation argues that mainstream female reporters should be considered in the stream of the broader women’s movement. Conventional presswomen, even those who worked on the widely excoriated woman’s pages, often were the voice of the women’s movement for a mainstream audience. While alternative presses preached to the converted, mass-audience presses persuaded the everyday person of the acceptability of previously unconventional ideas. By actively presenting themselves as the harbingers of change, seeking out and reporting issues of importance to the women’s movement, and creating opportunities for women’s professional advancement within the journalism profession, women’s press clubs like the WPCP made themselves an important resource for spreading activist ideology far and wide. Through the use of archival and oral history evidence, this dissertation shows how one of the United States’ longest-lived women’s press clubs, the Women’s Press Club of Pittsburgh, challenged conventions and gave voice to the nascent women’s movement, even as its members were apparently observing the dictates of the male-dominated news establishment.


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Item Type: University of Pittsburgh ETD
Status: Unpublished
CreatorsEmailPitt UsernameORCID
Carter Olson, Candi
ETD Committee:
TitleMemberEmail AddressPitt UsernameORCID
Committee ChairZboray, Ronaldzboray@pitt.eduZBORAY
Committee MemberOlson, Lesterolson@pitt.eduOLSON
Committee MemberFerguson Carr, Jeanjcarr@pitt.eduJCARR
Committee MemberMalin, Brentonbmalin@pitt.eduBMALIN
Date: 28 September 2013
Date Type: Publication
Defense Date: 12 April 2013
Approval Date: 28 September 2013
Submission Date: 18 April 2013
Access Restriction: 5 year -- Restrict access to University of Pittsburgh for a period of 5 years.
Number of Pages: 353
Institution: University of Pittsburgh
Schools and Programs: Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences > Communication: Rhetoric and Communication
Degree: PhD - Doctor of Philosophy
Thesis Type: Doctoral Dissertation
Refereed: Yes
Uncontrolled Keywords: Pittsburgh, Women's Press Club, Gertrude Gordon, Newswomen, Women's Liberation, Toki Schalk Johnson
Date Deposited: 28 Sep 2013 21:34
Last Modified: 28 Sep 2018 05:15


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