An Unladylike Profession


An Unladylike Profession

American Women War Correspondents in World War I

Chris Dubbs
Foreword by Judy Woodruff

336 pages
30 photographs, 4 maps, appendix, index


July 2020


$34.95 Add to Cart
eBook (PDF)
Ebook purchases delivered via Leaf e-Reader

July 2020


$34.95 Add to Cart
eBook (EPUB)
Ebook purchases delivered via Leaf e-Reader

July 2020


$34.95 Add to Cart

About the Book

When World War I began, war reporting was a thoroughly masculine bastion of journalism. But that did not stop dozens of women reporters from stepping into the breach, defying gender norms and official restrictions to establish roles for themselves—and to write new kinds of narratives about women and war.

Chris Dubbs tells the fascinating stories of Edith Wharton, Nellie Bly, and more than thirty other American women who worked as war reporters. As Dubbs shows, stories by these journalists brought in women from the periphery of war and made them active participants—fully engaged and equally heroic, if bearing different burdens and making different sacrifices. Women journalists traveled from belligerent capitals to the front lines to report on the conflict. But their experiences also brought them into contact with social transformations, political unrest, labor conditions, campaigns for women’s rights, and the rise of revolutionary socialism.

An eye-opening look at women’s war reporting, An Unladylike Profession is a portrait of a sisterhood from the guns of August to the corridors of Versailles.

Author Bio

Chris Dubbs is a military historian living in Edinboro, Pennsylvania, and has worked as a newspaper journalist, editor, and publisher. He is the author of numerous books, including American Journalists in the Great War: Rewriting the Rules of Reporting (Nebraska, 2017) and America’s U-Boats: Terror Trophies of World War I (Nebraska, 2014). Judy Woodruff is the anchor and managing editor of the PBS NewsHour and is a founding co-chair of the International Women’s Media Foundation. She is the author of “This is Judy Woodruff at the White House.”


"This slice of World War I history offers insights into American journalism as well as into the terrible conflict itself. . . . [Dubbs] writes with a sure hand, drawing from published articles, memoirs, diaries and letters. He skillfully presents each woman’s story in a linked series of riveting—sometimes heart-breaking—narratives. . . . Near the end of An Unladylike Profession, Mr. Dubbs remarks on the reporter’s duty to report the truth no matter how uncomfortable it might be. The journalists profiled in this absorbing book lived up to that responsibility."—Melanie Kirkpatrick, Wall Street Journal

"Readers will be inspired by the nearly unimaginable obstacles these journalists overcame to perform their jobs with flair. A welcome history suitable for World War I aficionados and budding journalists."—Kirkus Reviews, starred

"Chris Dubbs’s An Unladylike Profession jumps into the trenches with the women reporters of World War I—groundbreaking journalists who explained the war to readers in the US, and who shared stories from the war’s brutal aftermath."—Foreword Reviews

"By bringing together so many of these women in a single volume, An Unladylike Profession frames them not as isolated individuals or well-meaning amateurs, but as a small but vocal cohort of dedicated professionals who challenged society's expectations for what any reporter—male or female—could accomplish."—Shannon Granville, Army History

"This book makes an important contribution to our understanding of the Great War's impact on the role of female war reporters, the obstacles they faced, and the hurdles they overcame. It serves as a reminder that audiences depend on ingenious, courageous, and, most importantly, truth-seeking war correspondents who provide eyewitness accounts of conflicts and crises."—Elisabeth Fondren, Journalism & Mass Communication Quarterly

"Dubbs . . . delivers a rousing narrative of adventurous women, passionate about their careers, who broke free from oppressive gender norms to accomplish their goals. Hand this book to World War I aficionados and casual history buffs."—Michelle Ross, Booklist

"An Unladylike Profession is much more than a collection of stories about some very intrepid, determined women. It offers a glimpse into the many depths and dimensions of the first global conflict in human history. . . . This reviewer recommends the book for anyone interested in women's history, the history of journalism, and a unique approach to the history of World War I."—Ann Todd, Journal of America's Military Past

"An Unladylike Profession contributes to a growing trend in the field of journalism history, as well as in the broader public discourse, to include the lived experiences and the work of women on an equal footing with that of their male peers."—Natascha Toft Roelsgaard, American Journalism

"An Unladylike Profession is an excellent read not only for those interested in women as war correspondents, but because of how those journalists brought unique perspectives to the reporting of the war."—Strategy Page

“Dubbs tells his story with an unerring eye for unforgettable anecdotes and dramatic situations, nicely balanced by careful attention to historical background. He is a master at distilling complex historical information into readable and intelligent works for an audience of academics and non-academics alike.”—Steven Trout, author of On the Battlefield of Memory: The First World War and American Remembrance, 1919–1941

Table of Contents

List of Illustrations    
Foreword by Judy Woodruff    
1. Mary Boyle O’Reilly, First on the Scene    
2. Among the First Reporters    
3. The Saturday Evening Post’s Women’s War    
4. Novelist Journalists    
5. Status of Women in Warring Countries    
6. As the War Dragged On    
7. On Other Fronts    
8. War and Revolution in Russia        
9. Covering American Involvement    
10. After the Fighting    
Appendix: Journalists mentioned in An Unladylike Profession    
A Note on Sources    

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