A Nellie Bly Memorial Is Coming to Roosevelt Island

In September 1887, Nellie Bly assumed the persona of “insane girl” Nellie Brown to go under cover at the notorious women’s asylum on Blackwell’s Island. Her assignment: to tell “a plain and unvarnished narrative of the treatment of the patients therein.”

Upon her release, Bly wrote an exposé cataloguing the dire conditions faced by inmates, from freezing forced baths to solitary confinement in vermin-filled rooms and physical violence. This six-part investigation, initially published in Joseph Pulitzer’s New York World but later released in a collection titled Ten Days in a Mad-House, catapulted the intrepid reporter to fame and brought much-needed attention to the plight of the mentally ill. 

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