Gladys Montgomery Singer was included in the Washington Press Club Foundation Oral History Project because of her pioneering work as one of the nation's first science reporters. She was Washington editor of Electronics, a McGraw-Hill magazine, in the late forties and early fifties. Later, she became co-editor of Nucleonics, a McGraw-Hill publication which got its start at the dawn of the nuclear age. Mrs. Singer is also a past president of the Women's National Press Club, the forerunner of the Washington Press Club Foundation.
Mrs. Singer obtained her first Washington reporting job as a one-month assignment. After graduating from Wellesley College in 1919, she taught for several years. One day she answered an ad in her Wellesley, Massachusetts, home-town newspaper placed by Babson's Reports, a financial publication. The ad was for a one-month assignment in Washington, D.C., and she got the job. When Roger Babson, the boss, found out the office had hired a woman, he tried to fire her. But Singer (then Gladys Taylor) talked him out of it over dinner.
After the assignment, she remained in the Babson office. Later, she became head of the bureau, with the stipulation that her duties included renting out the building in which it was located.
After marriage to A.J. Montgomery, a young Scotsman who worked for the Christian Science Monitor, she quit work as a reporter. During World War II, she was hired at McGraw-Hill, as an "experiment." The experiment lasted until her retirement.
Sources on Mrs. Singer's career included her unpublished biography, which she lent me for one weekend. In addition, I drew on research done previously in the Washington Press Club archives at the National Press Club Library in Washington, D.C. Several colleagues, including Elsie Carper of the Washington Post, were helpful with their comments and suggestions.
Kay Watson, Mrs. Singer's long-time secretary, was invaluable. She helped Mrs. Singer organize her clippings and her thoughts, and often provided direction about possible interview subjects.
Before conducting the interviews, Mrs. Singer invited me to lunch at her antique-filled Washington, D.C., apartment. We held all our interview sessions there, usually seated across from one another in the living room or at Mrs. Singer's dining room table.
Mrs. Singer had very strong opinions about the direction in which she wanted her oral history to proceed. She often requested that I submit questions to her in advance, and she frequently suggested different approaches to the questioning. In addition, Mrs. Singer was meticulous in preparing for our sessions. She was very concerned that she convey accurate information.
After the third interview session, Mrs. Singer was hospitalized with an ankle injury. This meant a gap of some five months between the third and fourth interviews.
Since Mrs. Singer wrote under the name of Gladys Montgomery, she will be indexed this way in the Washington Press Club Foundation series.
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