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How one journalist changed the way America treated people with mental illness

New York City's Asylum for the Insane on Blackwell's Island
Moses King
/
British Library
Nellie Bly was temporarily committed to New York City's Asylum for the Insane on Blackwell's Island for an investigative report published in 1887.

This past Saturday was the 154th birthday of Nellie Bly, one of the first (if not the first) American investigative journalists.

Her willingness to be checked into the New York City Women's Insane Asylum helped change the way America treated people who were mentally ill.

Dr. Howard Markel, University of Michigan medical historian and PBS contributor, joined Stateside to talk about Nellie Bly’s life and death.

Listen above to hear how her career evolved from writing for the “society pages” to investigative journalism, how she described the asylum she committed herself to, and the abuse she uncovered in the system.

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