"Behind Asylum Bars" and "Inside the Madhouse" - Nellie Bly - New York World

Reportage

Description

One of the best-remembered undercover investigations of all time. Nellie Bly feigns insanity to get herself committed to the Women's Lunatic Asylum on Blackwell's (now Roosevelt) Island.

Media History

The reporting was intended for these media types: Magazine, Newspaper, Book, Television

Effects and Outcomes

Bly's sting resulted in an enlarged appropriation for the asylum from city government and, as the most visible exponent of "girl reporter derring-do," catapulted her into a position of enduring national renown.

Articles, Books, Video/Film

  • December 31, 1969
  • Nellie Bly's "Ten Days in a Madhouse"

    1887
  • Reaction: "Who Is This Insane Girl?" - Unsigned - New York Sun | She Is Pretty, Well Dressed and Speaks Spanish; She Wandered into Matron Stenard's Home for Women and Asked for a Pistol to Protect Herself

    September 25, 1887
    The Sun's reporter, as well as reporters from other of the World's competitors, encounters the mysterious insane girl.
  • Reaction: "Nellie Brown—Memory Still Gone" - Unsigned - New York Sun | No One Claims the Pretty Crazy Girl at Bellevue

    September 26, 1887
    More follow-up from the World's competitors on the mysterious insane girl.
  • "In and About the City: A Mysterious Waif" - Unsigned - New York Times | Bellevue Shelters a Girl of Whom Nothing Is Known

    September 26, 1887
    The New York World's competitors cover the story of the unknown waif -- actually the World's reporter Nellie Bly -- ...
  • Reaction: "Nelly Marina or Brown" - Unsigned - New York Sun | She Tells a Little About Herself, but is a Mystery Yet

    October 5, 1887
    More coverage by the World's competitors of the mysterious insane girl.
  • Reaction: "Friends Claim Nellie Marena" - Unsigned - New York Sun

    October 7, 1887
    more coverage by the World's competitors of the mysterious insane girl.
  • "Still a Mystery: Nellie Mareno's Friends as Silent as She Was Herself" - Unsigned - New York Times

    October 7, 1887
    Nellie Bly continues to fool the New York World's competitors right up to the day before her story unfolded in the ...
  • I - "Behind Asylum Bars" - Nellie Bly - New York World | The Mystery of the Unknown Insane Girl; Remarkable Story of the Successful Impersonation of Insanity; How Nellie Brown Deceived Judges, Reporters and Medical Experts; She Tells Her Story of How She Passed at Bellevue Hospital; Studying the Role of Insanity Before Her Mirror and Practicing It at the Temporary Home for Women; Arrested and Brought Before Judge Duffy; He Declares She is Some Mother's Darling and Resembles His Sister; Committed to the Care of the Physicians for the Insane at Bellevue; Experts Declare Her Demented; Harsh Treatment of the Insane at Bellevue; "Charity Patients Should Not Complain"; Vivid Pictures of Hospital Life; How Our Esteemed Contemporaries Have Followed a False Trail; Some Needed LIght Afforded Them; Chapters of Absorbing Interest in the Experience of a Feminine "Amateur Casual."

    October 9, 1887
    The first in Bly's two-part series on her experiences incarcerated for 10 days in the women's lunatic asylum on ...
  • "The Nellie Brown Mystery" - Unsigned - New York World | Her Story as Told from Day to Day by the City Newspapers; From the Sun, Sunday, Sept 25, WHO IS THIS INSANE GIRL? She Is Pretty, Well Dressed and Speaks Spanish; She Wandered Into Matron Stenard's Home for Women and Asked for a Pistol to Protect Herself; Is Her Name Marina?

    October 9, 1887
    The New York World reprints an article from the Sept. 25, 1887 New York Sun as well as reporting from the city's ...
  • "'Nellie Brown's' Story" - Unsigned - New York World | The Widespread Interest Caused by "The World's" Publication; Her Sad Experience the Talk of the Town; Its Truthfulness Acknowledged at Bellevue; Nurses and Doctors Admit They Were Deceived; Warden O'Rourke's Sagacity; The Ambulance Surgeon Explains

    October 10, 1887
  • Follow-up: "Playing MadWoman" - Unsigned - New York Sun | Nellie Bly Too Sharp for Island Doctors; Nine Days Life in Calico; The Sun Finishes Up Its Story of the "Pretty Crazy Girl"; Questioned, Prescribed for, Locked in a Bare Cell Every Night; Uniformed in Furniture Goods; Bathed by Alien Hands; Washed Regularly Without Her Own Hands After Every Meal of Coarse Food; Silly and Uncouth Companions in Whose Childish Pleasure She Did Not Join; Her Deception Successful; Incidents of Her Adventure and Official Accounts of It

    October 14, 1887
  • Reaction: "Playing Madwoman"- Unsigned - New York Sun | Nellie Bly Too Sharp for Island Doctors; Nine Days in Calico; The Sun Finishes Up Its Story of the 'Pretty Crazy Girl'

    October 14, 1887
    The New York Sun attempts to steal a march on the New York World's scoop after Nellie Bly's ten-days in the women's ...
  • II - "Inside the Madhouse" - Nellie Bly - New York World | II - "Nellie Bly's Experience in the Blackwell's Island Asylum; Continuation of the Story of Ten Days with Lunatics; How the City's Unfortunate Wards Are Fed and Treated; The Terrors of Cold Baths and Cruel, Unsympathetic Nurses; Attendants Who Harass and Abuse Patients and Laugh at Their Miseries"

    October 16, 1887
    Part II of Bly's report on her 10 days incarcerated in the women's lunatic asylum on Blackwell's Island.
  • III-Followup: "UnTruths in Every Line" - Nellie Bly - New York World | Nellie Bly Contradicts a Recent Article in The Sun; She Gives Many Additional Facts About Her Remarkable Sojourn on Blackwell's Island; More Praise for Dr. Ingram; He Is the Right Man in the Right Place; The Other Doctors Heartless and Careless

    October 17, 1887
  • IV-Reaction: Behind Asylum Bars: "Some of the Doctors Deny It" - Unsigned - New York World | Nellie Bly's Story Has ... Impression on Commissioners

    October 17, 1887
  • Behind Asylum Bars-Followup: "THE WORLD Their Savior" - Unsigned - New York World | How Nellie Bly's Work Will Help the City's Insane; Her Stories of the Treatment of Patients on Blackwell's Island Induce the Board of Estimate and Apportionment to Grant More Money to the Charity Commissioners - The Mayor Warns Dr. McDonald

    October 28, 1887
  • Behind Asylum Bars Reaction: "Nellie Bly Led the Way" - Unsigned - New York World | The Grand Jury Reports on Abuses at Blackwell's Island Asylum; Its Eyes Opened by THE WORLD's Account of the Horrors of the Place - Condemning the Junior Physicians and the Nurses as Incompetent - Recommending the Employment of Female Doctors

    November 3, 1887
  • "Among the Mad" - Nellie Bly - Godey's Lady's Book

    January 1, 1889
    Bly gives the back story of her madhouse expose.