End of list.
Following are brief biographies of nineteen of the women interviewed as part of the
WPCF Oral History Project "Women in Journalism."

Each listing includes the number of pages of each interview. The note "VIDEO" indicates that one session of that interview is also available on videotape for viewing at the National Press Club Library in Washington, DC, Columbia University Oral History Research Office in New York City, and at California State University at Sacramento. If an interview is marked "CLOSED," it is has been sealed by the interviewee and is unavailable until the specified date.

Click on a name to access the full-text interview.
(If a name does not appear in a different color, it is not yet available on-line.)
Click on a photo to view a page of one or more photographs.
Go to: A - G List | H - M List | Entire Short List
Return to: Oral History Home Page | WPCF Home Page | NPC Home Page

Photo Geneva Overholser . (1945 - ) Ms. Overholser was the editor of the Des Moines Register from 1988 to 1995. She began her career as a reporter for the Colorado Springs Sun, has been a syndicated columnist for the Washington Post Writers Group, ombudsman of the Washington Post from 1995 to 1998 and a reporter for the Colorado Springs Sun. At the time of her interviews she was the Curtis B. Hurley Chair in Public Affairs Reporting for the Missouri School of Journalism, in its Washington, D.C. bureau.

Photo Marjorie Paxson. (1923 - ) Ms. Paxson entered journalism at the Lincoln, NE bureau of the United Press and soon moved to the Associated Press bureau in Omaha. In 1948 she took a position as women's pages editor in Houston—a position she would also hold at papers in Miami, St. Petersburg, and Philadelphia. In 1976 Paxson became assistant managing editor of the [Boise] Idaho Statesman. In 1978 she became Gannett's fourth woman publisher, holding that position at the Chambersburg [PA] Public Opinion and the Muskogee [OK] Phoenix. Paxson was national president of Theta Sigma Phi (now Women in Communications) from 1963 to 1967 and in 1987 established the National Women in Media Collection of papers at the University of Missouri, her alma mater. [172 pages; VIDEO]

Photo Ethel Payne. (1911 - 1991) Ms. Payne spent nearly her entire career writing for the black press, including twenty years as a political correspondent for the Chicago Daily Defender. She travelled to Asia and Africa as a correspondent and received a Ford Foundation Fellowship in Educational Journalism in 1978. Payne was the first black woman to be a national television commentator when she appeared on the CBS television "Spectrum" series. At the time of her interviews, Payne was writing on a free-lance basis about politics and race-related issues. She died in May 1991. [156 pages; VIDEO]

Photo Virginia Pitt Sherlock. (1945 - ) Ms. Pitt was a supervisor on the general desk of the Associated Press in New York in 1978, the same year she was a named plaintiff in the sexual discrimination lawsuit against the AP. She left the AP at the same time. After a seventeen-year career in journalism (including reporting and managerial work in Ohio, Kentucky, Massachusetts, and Maine), she returned to school to earn a law degree. Pitt lived and worked as a lawyer in Florida at the time of her interviews. [136 pages; VIDEO]

Photo Lynn Povich. (1943 - ) Ms. Povich worked at Newsweek for twenty-five years as both a researcher/reporter and as a senior editor beginning in 1975. Povich was a plaintiff in the Newsweek lawsuit, one of the few places where women who brought suit remained for many years afterward. In 1976, she was the recipient of the Matrix Award, presented annually to outstanding women in the media by New York Women in Communications. At the time of her interviews, Povich was senior editor of Working Woman magazine. [102 pages; VIDEO] Not available on-line.

Photo Margaret Richards. (1909 - ) Ms. Richards began work for UPI in 1931 in their Kansas City bureau and remained there until she retired in 1974. While with UPI, she covered many spectacular crimes, such as the Pretty Boy Floyd murders. She went with Truman Capote to cover the family massacre that he later used as the basis for the book, In Cold Blood. [116 pages]

Photo Marilyn Schultz. (1945 - ) Ms. Schultz worked in television news for fifteen years in New York, Washington, and Indianapolis. She was the named plaintiff in the NBC suit in the mid-1970s. With others, Ms. Schultz came to believe that those participating in the suit were not likely to benefit personally from whatever might be achieved as a result, but that the suit would aid succeeding generations. She spent some time working in Los Angeles, and, at the time of her interviews, was a professor of journalism at the University of Texas at Austin. [134 pages; VIDEO]

Photo Eileen Shanahan. (1924 - ) Ms. Shanahan began her career as an economic reporter for the Journal of Commerce. She then took a position in the Treasury Department and later returned to journalism to work for the New York Times Washington Bureau. Her second government position was with the Department of Health, Education, and Welfare. Later she worked in editorial positions for the Washington Star and the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Shanahan has been very involved in the struggle for women's equality in journalism, most notably in the battles to open the National Press Club and the Gridiron Club to women and the lawsuit against the New York Times. She was influential in establishing Governing magazine. During the course of her interviews, Shanahan retired from her position at the Washington bureau of the St. Petersburg Times. [277 pages; VIDEO]

Photo Isabelle Shelton. (1916 - 1993) In 1943, as male reporters were going off to war, Ms. Shelton was promoted from secretary to reporter at the Chicago Sun and began reporting on city and state politics, the civil rights movement, and wartime strikes. In 1948 she moved to Washington, DC as a correspondent for the Cincinnati Enquirer and joined the staff of the Washington Star in 1950. In addition to covering the First Ladies, women's issues, and transportation, Shelton wrote a weekly syndicated column and free-lanced for other newspapers and national magazines. In 1980 she left the Star for a post at the Department of Education. She retired in 1981 and died in May 1993. [74 pages]

Photo Catherine Shen. (1947 - ) Ms. Shen first worked as art editor for a textbook publisher in San Francisco. She later moved to Maine and worked as a reporter for the Brunswick-Bath Times Record but soon thereafter returned to San Francisco. She became a copyeditor with the San Francisco Chronicle in 1974 and stayed eleven years, copyediting, revamping the Sunday news magazine, and editing the feature section. A Gannett executive recruited her for USA Today, and one year later, in 1986, she started as publisher at the Honolulu Star-Bulletin. Until mid-1993, Shen was associate publisher of the Marin [CA] Independent Journal. [139 pages; VIDEO]

Photo Carole Simpson. (1940 - ) A broadcast journalist for almost thirty years, Ms. Simpson has reported for local radio and television in Chicago and for both NBC and ABC in Washington. Her specialties include health care, housing, education, and the environment. In October 1992 she moderated a nationally-televised debate among the presidential candidates. Simpson is outspoken about the problems faced by women at ABC News and was the leader of the women's advisory group at ABC. At the time of her interviews, Simpson was anchor for ABC's "World News Sunday." [194 pages]

Photo Harriett Skye. (1931 - ) Ms. Skye was born and raised on the Standing Rock Reservation in North Dakota. In 1973 the tribal chairman asked her to return home to run the Standing Rock Star. She was the editor of the United Tribes News in Bismarck from 1974 to 1979. From 1973 to 1984, she anchored the television show "Indian Country Today." She has also served as president of the American Indian Press Association. At the time of her interviews, Skye was attending film school in New York City. [79 pages; VIDEO]

Photo Barbara Tanabe. (1949 - ) A Japanese-American born in Tokyo, Ms. Tanabe became one of the first Asian-American broadcasters in the nation when she began her television career at KOMO-TV in Seattle. While at KOMO she earned a 1971 Emmy for her documentary on the internment of Seattle-area Japanese-Americans during World War II. In 1974 she moved to KHON-TV in Honolulu where she spent 13 years as reporter, anchor, news director, and business editor. In 1987, Tanabe joined Hill and Knowlton in Honolulu and, at the time of her interviews, served there as president and chief executive officer. [81 pages; VIDEO]

Photo Ruth Ashton Taylor. (1922 - ) Ms. Taylor has spent nearly fifty years in broadcasting, a career connected from its beginning to CBS News. Having worked in New York with such notables as Edward R. Murrow, in 1951 she became the first woman on the West Coast to work in television news. She was hired for the "woman's angle," but that requirement did not restrict her because she reasoned that women were interested in the same subjects that interested men. At the time of her interviews, Taylor was still employed in broadcasting, [162 pages; VIDEO]

Photo Betsy Wade. (1929 - ) Ms. Wade began her career as a reporter for the New York Herald Tribune. Later she worked for Scripps-Howard feature syndicate and the News Enterprise Association. She was first hired by the New York Times as a copy editor in 1956 and went on to work in the style section, on the metropolitan desk, and on the foreign desk. Wade was the senior woman on the New York Times suit in terms of rank. Later she was influential in the publication of the Pentagon Papers. At the time of her interviews, Wade was writing the "Weekly Traveler" column for the Times. [338 pages; VIDEO] Not available on-line.

Photo Lois Wille. (1931 - ) Writing as a reporter and editorial page editor at different stages in her career, Ms. Wille has won two Pulitzer Prizes for articles and editorials in the Chicago Daily News (1956-1977) and the Chicago Tribune (1984-1991). She also worked as editorial page editor of the Chicago Sun-Times (1978-1984). Concentrating on exposing wrongs in Chicago, Wille's writing led to important changes in health care, housing, the juvenile court system, and other problem-plagued institutions. [159 pages; VIDEO]

Photo The Eleanor Roosevelt Press Conferences: A Videotaped Group Interview.
~Ann Cottrell Free. New York Herald-Tribune
~Frances Lide. Washington Star
~Ruth Montgomery. New York Daily News
~Malvina Stephenson. Kansas City Star, Cincinnati Times Star
This group interview gathers together four women who share their memories of attending First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt's press conferences. From 1933 to 1945, a time when women reporters were excluded from much of the "hard news" covered almost solely by men, Mrs. Roosevelt held press conferences open to women reporters only. The conferences, and the shortage of men due to World War II, provided increased job opportunity for women in Washington. Because few transcripts of these press conferences exist, the reminiscences of these four women ensure that Mrs. Roosevelt's effort to support women reporters will not be forgotten. [47 pages; VIDEO]

Start of list.

Go to: A - G List | H - M List | Entire Short List
Return to: Oral History Home Page | WPCF Home Page | NPC Home Page

© 1994, Washington Press Club Foundation.
Washington, DC. All Rights Reserved.

Last updated: November 1, 1997