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The Reform Years at _Hampton's_: The Magazine Journalism of Rheta Childe Dorr, 1909-1912.
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The Electronic Journal of Communication / La Revue Electronique de Communication
***** GOTTLIEB ********* EJC/REC Vol. 4, Nos. 2-4, 1994 ****


Agnes Hooper Gottlieb
Seton Hall University

        Abstract:  Rheta Childe Dorr has been
     remembered as a war correspondent and an advocate
     of women's equal rights.  Dorr's career, however,
     took several other distinct twists, and her reform
     writing, while certainly less glamorous than her
     high-profile forays to Russia, today provides an
     important example of the type of "social"
     muckraking that was being written 80 years ago.
     For it was as a writer for _Hampton's_ Magazine
     that Dorr wrote extensively of the importance of
     municipal housekeeping, that is, the idea that a
     woman's home extended beyond her own four walls
     and included a need to keep her city safe, clean,
     and uncorrupt.  In articles for _Hampton's_, Dorr
     publicized the plight of the poor, promoted
     educational reforms, and highlighted the
     activities of women's organizations.


     When Rheta Childe Dorr's obituary appeared in the _New
York Times_ in 1948, she was remembered as a war
correspondent and an advocate of women's equal rights. The
newspaper chronicled her work as an eyewitness reporter of
fascinating news stories during nine trips to Europe. Her
five books were listed: _What Eight Million Women Want_
(1910); _Inside the Russian Revolution_ (1917); _A Soldier's
Mother in France_ (1918); the autobiography, _A Woman of
Fifty_ (1924); and the _Life of Susan B. Anthony: The Woman
Who Changed the Mind of a Nation_ (1928).[1]

     The newspaper, however, never mentioned the important
writing Dorr did as a social reformer for the crusading
_Hampton's Broadway_ Magazine in the early years of the
twentieth century. In fact, Dorr's career took several
distinct twists, and her reform writing, while certainly
less glamorous than her high-profile forays to Russia, today
provides an important example of the type of "social"
muckraking that was being written 80 years ago.

     It was as a writer for _Hampton's_ that Dorr wrote
extensively of the importance of municipal housekeeping,
that is, the idea that a woman's home extended beyond her
own four walls and included a need to keep her city safe,
clean, and uncorrupt. Articles by Dorr and other women
journalists of the period, especially those writing about
women's clubs, can be seen as an extension of municipal
housekeeping. Using the power of their pens, these writers,
including such journalists as Boston author Helen M.
Winslow, club pioneer Jane Cunningham Croly, and Baltimore
editorial writer Louise Malloy, promoted a wider sphere for
women by advocating their involvement in municipal

     Dorr herself sometimes saw it necessary to carry a
picket sign, but her most effective reform work was her
writing. In articles for _Hampton's_, a reform publication
with muckraking aspirations, Dorr publicized the plight of
the poor, promoted educational reforms, and highlighted the
activities of women's organizations. As journalism historian
Frank L. Mott noted, Dorr's concerns fit well with the
muckraking era, but she concentrated specifically on social,
rather than political or economic, reforms.[3]

          Historical and Biographical Review

     Like the _Times_ obituary, historical essays about Dorr
concentrated on other aspects of her career and skimmed over
her two-plus years spent at _Hampton's_ or overlooked the
time period altogether. Most historians have focused what
little they wrote about Dorr on her sensational trip to
Russia during the Revolution there. Marion Marzolf in _Up
from the Footnote_ noted that as a reporter for the _New
York Mail_ in 1917, Dorr went to Russia and interviewed
the sister of the Czarina and others involved in the
struggle.[4] Journalist Ishbel Ross in the 1936 volume
_Ladies of the Press_ wrote about Dorr's early career, her
work for suffrage, and her trip to Russia, but skipped right
over the years she spent crusading at _Hampton's_.[5]

     More recently, historian Zena Beth McGlashen studied
Dorr as a reformer, but investigated only her writing for
the _New York Evening Post_. Noting that Dorr herself
counted her writing from the Russian Revolution and World
War I as her most significant journalism, McGlashen argued:
"This bias on the part of Dorr is understandable in light of
the value given the male role model. By covering a war--
which was clearly what men were assigned to do--Dorr saw
herself engaged in `real' journalism."[6] McGlashen
persuasively argued that her writing from Russia was "simply
part of the biased reporting" of those who witnessed the
beginning of the Revolution. Dorr's writing about women
workers, however, carries more weight from a historical
perspective. Reform writing by Dorr and others can be
studied today as examples of the outlets available to
professional women during the Progressive Era. A study of
the more than 20 articles she wrote during her tenure at
_Hampton's_ illustrates effectively and colorfully the
specific reform activities she believed important and
demonstrates how she tried to sway other women, specifically
club women, to take these projects on as their "causes."

     McGlashen concentrated her study of Dorr's work on the
writing she did as a newspaper reporter for the _Evening
Post_ in the first few years of the twentieth century.
McGlashen noted that Dorr used the newspaper's women's
section to give a platform to the reform activities of
women's clubs. Dorr's recognition of the importance of
women's roles in reform activities laid the groundwork for
her writing on social issues. It was as a magazine writer
for _Hampton's_, however, that Dorr found a significant
national audience for her reforms.

     Dorr, born in Omaha, Neb., in 1866, lived her life
committed to bettering the lives of the poorest and the
weakest members of society, namely women and children.[7]
Like other women of her day, she married young and had a
child. However, similarities to typical Victorian women end
there--Dorr realized that she could not conform to the
strict sense of maternity and housewifely duties expected by
her husband, so she took their young son and headed for New
York in 1898. She joined the _Post_ staff in 1902 to write
for the women's section, but after four years, she wanted to
move on. She had begun to hate newspaper writing, while she
became more and more interested in social issues. As her
reform activities intensified, her work relationships
faltered. When she asked her managing editor what future
she had on the paper, she was told she had none, other than
the job as women's editor which she held. She was not suited
to the job of editorial writer, she was told, because her
radical ideas contradicted the _Post_ tradition.[8]

     Meanwhile, she began to live the life of a dedicated
reformer. She had moved with her young son to the lower East
Side of New York both because it was cheap and because she
could see first hand the difficult living conditions of the
impoverished. Dorr slowly began identifying with the plight
of the immigrants who surrounded her. She picketed for the
shirt-waist workers, defended beaten women strikers in
court, and worked within the Women's Trade Union League for
"minimum wage-laws, the eight-hour-day, and what I thought
even more essential, woman suffrage."[9]

     She left the paper in the summer of 1906 and traveled
to Europe where she covered the coronation of King Haakon of
Norway, visited Russia for a glimpse of revolutionary
rumblings, and covered the International Woman Suffrage
Association quinquennial meeting in Copenhagen. She was
inspired by a visit to England and meetings with the
suffragists there to use her writing talent for specific

     Back in the United States, however, her strategy to
write about the plight of poor women and children met with
difficulties.  A story about the difficult job of a
department store clerk was rejected by the women's
magazines, which relied heavily on department store
advertising for profits.[10] In preparation of another
series on the plight of working women, she worked as a
seamstress in a corset factory, a trousers plant, a coat
factory, and a muslin underwear factory.  She took volumes
of notes on the conditions and treatment of workers in each
factory and prepared for an explosive series of articles in
_Everybody's Magazine_, a monthly published by department
store magnate John Wanamaker that mixed fiction and
non-fiction by well-respected authors.

     When the time came for the articles to be written,
however, Dorr had a falling out with her male editors. She
said they had little interest in the expose material about
factories around New York. What they wanted instead was a
series of article about women invading male bastions of
work. The editor then assigned a writer, William Hard, to
collaborate with Dorr. While she continued her
investigation, the plan was for Hard to shape the material
into twelve printable articles. Dorr was to be listed as
co-author. As tension increased between Dorr and her editor,
she finally took legal action when she read in the magazine
that the "series of the year" would begin publication in
October. Titled "The Woman's Invasion," which Dorr herself
had suggested, the advertisement said the series was written
solely by William Hard. Dorr secured a woman attorney who
obtained an injunction against the magazine and, ultimately,
the series appeared in print under co-authors' bylines.

     The victory won, Dorr remained unsatisfied with a
whitewashed treatment of her explosive information. "...[I]n
the truest sense the articles were not mine. The title was
mine, the idea was mine, most of the material was mine, but
the intent and meaning of the whole thing was distorted
beyond recognition," Dorr wrote.[11] The series was a great
success in publishing, but to Dorr, a "nightmare."[12]

     She was a reformer without a voice, a writer without an
audience, until she joined forces with _Hampton's Broadway_
Magazine, where her reforming tendencies were appreciated.
Dorr met publisher Benjamin B. Hampton when he accepted for
publication an article she had submitted about woman's
suffrage.  He forced her to rewrite the piece, but then
offered to print anything else that was as good as "The
Women's Invasion."  At that point, Dorr poured out the long
history of that magazine series to him.  Hampton agreed to
help her write the stories she had so passionately wanted to
tell.  In fact, she later credited him with turning her into
a writer.  At _Hampton's_, she was "given unlimited
opportunity to express my own ideas in my own fashion" and
the results were a series of articles that promoted better
working and living conditions for women and children.[13]

     That Dorr found a forum in _Hampton's_ was not
surprising. The magazine first was published under the
title _Hampton's Broadway_ Magazine in 1907 during the
muckraking period. During subsequent years it underwent a
name change to simply _Hampton's_ Magazine, but under both
titles it provided a middle ground between investigative
magazines like _McClure's_ and the popular literary
periodicals. Dorr described the goal of _Hampton's_ to be a
forum for "constructive social criticism, big news stories
and great fiction."[14] In his Pulitzer Prize-winning _The
History of American Magazines_, Frank Luther Mott noted that
_Hampton's_ uncovered instances of "public abuses which form
a kind of postscript to the muckraking movement."[15]

     During Dorr's years at _Hampton's_, the magazine's
circulation soared from 125,000 in 1908 to 450,000 in
1910.[16] Dorr herself stated that she was allowed "a
certain authority in directing the magazine's policy."[17]
Dorr said that all articles about women, children, suffrage,
and education were referred to her. Dorr's writing at
_Hampton's_ was representative of the municipal housekeeping
tasks tackled by women journalists. Dorr wrote more than 20
articles--all of them relating to municipal housekeeping
topics: education, the condition of children, the need for a
juvenile court, and the working conditions of women.

     Mott argued that within this forum, Dorr had "a field
all her own."[18] She has been described as a "woman's
muckraker." In other words, her writing exposed the ills of
society that were of concern to women.[19] Her subjects,
however, actually were broader than women's interests only.
Dorr's articles described in detail the plight of women and
children, but also the urban, political, and social ills
that were at the root of their woes. Mott believed that
Dorr's articles nicely complimented "the expose tone of the
magazine, they were not precisely muckraking forays, but
challenging discussions of important social problems,
bolstered with fact."[20]

     "The Wreck of the Home," one of her earliest pieces at
_Hampton's_, described women's double bind as wage-earners
and mothers. Dorr reminisced years later that she herself
understood this double burden because she was forced to work
to support herself and her son. She often felt pangs of
guilt that she had not remained in her marriage for the sake
of her son. And she wondered when she read of a teenage boy
who had turned to crime if he was the child of a working

     For a 1909 _Hampton's_ article, Dorr used her
experiences in the factories to illustrate her argument and
related a series of anecdotes that described her points.
Locked in dull, mindless jobs for want of training, women
and home-makers were ruined, Dorr asserted. An editorial
note before "Give the Working-Girl a Chance," stated that
the article should be read as a plea for special industrial
training for girls:

     We have been letting our girls, at the age of
     fourteen, take up mechanical, dreary, detached
     tasks at which they have automatically worked for
     many years, only to find themselves on the human
     scrap heap, broken down and worn out. One woman
     irons one side of your collar day in and day out
     for all the fresh young years of her life.
     Gradually she becomes physically incapable of even
     that sordid task. She sees nothing, comprehends
     nothing, attempts nothing, except that one side of
     that collar. If it isn't ironing a collar, it is
     feeding a machine, or folding a piece of paper, or
     putting mucilage on a piece of cloth. Such dumb
     tasks, pursued year after year by our millions of
     working women, are stultifying, stupefying,
     stunting, and ruining millions of our mothers and
     home-makers. Mentally they become cramped,
     apathetic, narrow, timid, dependent; physically
     they become weak, anaemic, diseased, broken. It is
     time we gave our working-girls a chance, and Mrs.
     Dorr points the way.[22]

     To further her arguments, Dorr adopted a strategy
typical of the municipal housekeepers of her day. She argued
that routinized work forced upon women was "destroying the
home by taking away from the workers the power to make
homes."[23] Repeatedly, Dorr argued in one article that
unskilled labor forced upon a young girl made her "less
skilled, less intelligent, less independent than she was
when she entered the trade" and, above all, left her
"incapable of making a home!"[24] Arguing that the
"unskilled worker is a human machine," Dorr warned, "The
only way to preserve the home is to conserve the
home-makers."[25] Appealing to her middle-class readers, who
believed in an ideal version of the American home, Dorr
suggested the only viable solution was to provide training
in trades for young women who were forced to work.

     Dorr's writing technique employed anecdotes to make her
points and so the reader learned through numerous examples.
She illustrated, as one of many examples, the plight of two
sisters, Annie and Jennie, whose lives were transformed by
enrollment at the Manhattan Trade School. Again appealing to
the maternal instincts of her readers and the middle-class
ideal of domesticity, Dorr concluded her article by noting
that society could not afford "to have citizens born of
brutalized and degraded mothers" and she warned that society
would not want the type of homes these women were able to
create.[26] "Would it not be better to acknowledge that
women are equally with men the workers of the world, and
give them the training which instead of preventing them from
becoming home makers will rather help them in that mission?"
she asked.[27]

     Her next article, which focused on the need for pure
milk for babies, suggested that women's clubs should promote
the cause of clean milk for babies and education for
impoverished mothers who did not know much about caring for
their children.[28] In another article, Dorr described how a
wealthy member of a woman's club sold her stock in cotton
mills because she worried about children being employed
there. She then pressed her women's club to generate an
investigation of child labor.[29]

     Dorr passionately believed that women's clubs were
appropriate forums for municipal reforms. A series of
articles for _Hampton's_ focused on the reform
responsibilities of the women's club movement. She argued
that it was one of the most important movements of the
twentieth century and that its real importance began when
clubs started studying citizenship issues instead of
literature. Her three-part article, "What Eight Million
Women Want," was later the title chapter of her book about
the reforming activities of American women. The eight
million women cited referred to the fact that there were
eight million American women and also eight million members
of the International Council of Women, which was actively
attempting to improve the social order.[30] The magazine
article, which claimed that the women's club was the
"parent" of civic reform, noted that one-tenth of the eight
million American women--800,000 women--belonged to
active civic clubs. "Remember that this one-tenth of the
woman population is the educated, intelligent, socially
powerful tenth," she wrote, referring to the make-up of most
women's clubs.[31]

     Dorr wrote that although the club movement had begun
initially for studying and self-improvement, this phase was
"doomed" because women were not in the habit of doing things
for themselves. She stated that women had served society for
so many generations that they preferred service to idle
study. Most of the work of these women consisted of projects
that related to children, public schools, and the home,
topics dear to Dorr herself and ones that fell under the
municipal housekeeping blanket. Through these municipal
reform activities of what she termed average women, Dorr
believed that the club movement could wield an "immense

     In Part Two of the article, Dorr combined her two
favorite interests--municipal housekeeping and women's
rights. She wrote about elderly women whose livelihoods were
threatened by property laws that were unfair to wives. She
publicized the cruelty of wife beating and argued that once
again it was the work of women's clubs to investigate laws
that discriminated against women and to lobby for their
abolition. The series concluded with a description of the
plight of working women and a plea for the continued
involvement of women's organizations in lobbying for
protective legislation. Dorr argued that industrial
committees of the women's club movement were a "thorn in the
flesh" of the manufacturing industry. She appealed to
employers, noting that women's club investigations had shown
that good working conditions actually fostered increased
productivity and, therefore, increased profits.[33]

     A later article on women's rights used the women of
Colorado, who had been voting since 1893, as examples to
show the responsible, reform-minded way women would respond
to universal suffrage. Since women obtained the vote, Dorr
argued, they had fought for good government and specific
reforms. In Colorado, protective legislation had been
passed, the best juvenile court system in the country was in
place, and women had attained the right to equal property
and inheritance laws. "All of these evidences of progressive
thought and action were agitated mainly by women and were
made into laws chiefly through the influence of women," Dorr
asserted.[34] Unlike men, women voted for the good of the
state, she contended. Bowing to the social strictures of her
day, Dorr argued that women tended to use their votes to
assure that moral candidates were elected. "A man may be a
capable public official, but if the women decide that they
could not receive him in their homes they will refuse to
vote for him," she stated.[35]

     Dorr argued that the woman's movement of her day was an
organized attempt to help women join the human race.[36] She
celebrated the work of pioneers, including Mary
Wollstonecraft, Charlotte Bronte, and Elizabeth Blackwell,
who endured insults and prejudice to open the professions to
women. And she applauded the work of Susan B. Anthony,
Elizabeth Cady Stanton, and Lucy Stone, who generated the
push for universal suffrage. In 1911, Dorr predicted that
women would not have to wait much longer for suffrage.
Women, by their work and activities, were proving that they
had a right to belong to the human race and that "no laws,
no policies of exclusion, no selfish discrimination can
alter the fact."[37]

     While the suffrage question was dear to her, Dorr wrote
even more impassioned articles when the subject literally
was a matter of life or death. One such article exposed the
deadly dangers of fire by portraying the horror of the
Triangle Shirtwaist fire in 1911. Dorr used the fire to
illustrate the hazards facing factory workers. Dorr vividly
described how "doomed creatures" trapped on the upper floors
of what was believed to be a fire-proof building shrieked
and clawed at each other to escape.[38] "From windows on the
eight, ninth, and tenth floors men and women were hurling
themselves," Dorr wrote.[39] "They sped downward, turning
end on end like manikins. The rapid thud, thud of the bodies
on the stone pavement, the crash of flesh and bone on the
hard earth, were sounds not to be described in words."[40]
One hundred forty-five people, most of them young women,
died in the blaze. In the aftermath of the fire, people
learned that the doors to the building were locked to
prevent latecomers, to keep union agitators out and to keep
the workers in. The building itself, with only one fire
escape, was a firetrap, and Dorr pointed the blame at
municipal laws, which did not cover safety regulations. Just
as preventive medicine was the best approach to health, so
too were preventive measures the answer to fire safety. Dorr
argued that fire fighting had been the focus of reform for
too long, "yet we continue to have fires."[41] The only
viable solution, she contended, was to focus energy on fire
prevention. Fireproof buildings were inadequate; deathproof
buildings were needed.

     In another article about unsafe working conditions,
Dorr lobbied for child labor laws. Again appealing to her
middle-class readers, Dorr argued that the future of the
race was at stake. Children who were worked to exhaustion,
she argued, grew to be worthless adults. These adults
threatened the very future of the home. "The race cannot
possibly be improved, society cannot possibly progress, if
children are to be brought into the world by exhausted and
ambitionless parents," she wrote.[42]

     Dorr wrote more than 20 long articles during her years
at _Hampton's_.  The articles were extensively illustrated
with touching photographs of working women, children in
factories, unsafe factories, and women carrying picket
signs.  The writing style that she developed relied heavily
on anecdotes to further her points.  Readers learned, for
example, in an article about delinquent girls of the reform
activities of Maude E. Miner, who rescued young women from
the streets and brought them to live at Waverly House in New
York.[43] An article about children with learning problems
was illustrated by the story of a 16-year-old boy who was
just starting school.[44] An article about children's health
described the plight of a third grader named Harry who
peddled candy at night and then fell asleep during school
every day.[45] Dorr outlined another similar story:  A young
girl named Becky was forced to work every night in the
family's bakery and then succumbed each day to the "sleeping
sickness" in school.[46]

     Another touching story described the life of a
12-year-old son of a drunken, irresponsible father. Young
Danny Rosenbecker quarreled with another boy and in the heat
of a losing fist fight, picked up a hatchet and struck the
opponent on the head. Danny was tried for murder as an
adult and sentenced to 20 years of hard labor in Ohio State
Penitentiary in 1902, a year when the juvenile court system
was just gaining popularity. Dorr described how she tracked
down the 20-year-old Danny in 1910, although the juvenile
court authorities, firmly entrenched in Ohio in by then, had
never heard of him because his case had not been referred to
them. Dorr visited Rosenbecker and described how eight years
in prison had transformed him from a young boy into a
"jailbird."[47] Dorr used the illustration of Danny
Rosenbecker to appeal for more humane treatment of children
in the court system. The hope for "bad" children, she
stated, was the juvenile court.

     Dorr also appealed to her readers' altruistic
tendencies by describing in detail organizations and
societies that were working to improve the urban
environments. Women's clubs, settlement houses, and schools
were highlighted in an effort to show readers that volunteer
activities could make a difference. The roots of the
juvenile court, for example, were traced to club women in
Chicago. Dorr asserted that club women were responsible for
advocating the juvenile court system in every state that
eventually adopted it.[48] She repeatedly publicized the
club movement and lobbied for continued involvement in
reform activities by socially-conscious clubs.

     Dorr suggested remedies for social ills by publicizing
the work of women who dedicated their lives to settlement
houses, schools, and clinics to help unfortunate women and
children. By highlighting these individuals, Dorr was able
to focus on sweeping reforms that she could prove worked.
She argued, for example, that mental deficiency in children
often was caused by "poverty, by overcrowded homes, poor
food, bad air, lack of playgrounds."[49] The only solution,
she advocated, was to "remove the patient from the cause of
the evil."[50] Her advocacy for children extended to a
concern for their physical health. Here, she argued in
favor of preventive health care, a progressive idea at the
turn of the century, and teaching hygiene in the schools.

     It was tantamount to "race suicide" to neglect the
health of children until they actually were ill, she wrote.
As was typical of the municipal housekeeper, she appealed
through the "race suicide" argument to the sensitivities of
middle-class readers, who were at the time debating this
question among themselves. Middle-class white people were
concerned that fewer and fewer white babies were being born.
Fewer women were marrying and women, especially white women
of the middle and upper classes, were having fewer children.
Dorr's argument suggested that children raised in an
unhealthy environment failed to become productive,
contributing members of society because they were "slightly
damaged goods."[51] She called tuberculosis the "great
white plague" because of the effect on city children.[52]

     Dorr sketched a portrait of an ideal school, which she
said actually existed in Philadelphia. There, the rooms were
heated, cleanliness was the rule, big windows let in
sunshine and women were prepared for college or business,
professional or domestic work. While Dorr conceded that the
price for such a school was high, she argued that it was
well worth the money because it was graduating "fine,
healthy, intelligent women, fit for motherhood."[53] She
argued that special attention needed to be given to girls'
education, especially physical education, because the future
of the race depended upon it. The bodies of the "future
mothers of the race" actually needed more physical training
than boys, she contended.[54]

     Like other municipal housekeepers, Dorr believed that
the cities needed to be cleaned up in both the liberal and
political senses. She traced the cycle of poverty and the
steadily plummeting quality of the lives of children to the
growth of urban environments. City life stole the natural
outdoor environment away from the "wild young human animal"
and changes were needed to rectify this problem. Children
needed to play outside, they needed manual training and
industrial education and they needed to have their parents
educated about the proper way to raise them, she argued.[55]

     While some of Dorr's remedies--such as cleanliness,
physical education, good hygiene, and preventive health care
-seem non-controversial today, she also proposed some
radical reforms that have never been implemented. She
suggested, for example, that all children under age 16
should be kept in school 12 months a year. During the summer
months, parents who could afford to take their children from
the city would be permitted to do so, but all other
youngsters would go to vacation public school. There,
classes in manual training, cooking, sewing, iron work,
swimming and sports would be held outdoors. She envisioned a
complex system of daycare in which babies would be brought
to nurseries and young women students trained to care for
them.[56] Although she proposed such training in traditional
childcare, Dorr still criticized the fact that public school
curricula prepared men for entry into the professional
world, while it trained women "for one position only--
housekeeper to a man."[57] Such sweeping reforms never came
to fruition, although longer school years and expanded
daycare facilities are still being proposed today.

     Dorr used her writing to constantly push women readers
to become increasingly involved in a host of urban
activities. She literally preached to her readers and, when
necessary, chastised them. When juvenile court systems,
pushed through by club women, failed to solve juvenile
delinquency, Dorr told her readers it was "because you have
done an incomplete work."[58] She told readers they had
failed to go far enough in their advocacy and had neglected
to insist upon a support system to help the courts deal with
juvenile delinquency. "You have established the theory of a
court, but you have failed to provide the machinery through
which the theory can work."[59] She argued that the court
needed help with support services. "The community, that is
to say, you and I, must help," she wrote, and she promised
that in future articles she would explain why reform work
was a civic duty and how volunteers could help solve social
problems.[60] She suggested in a subsequent article that
tension between the classes needed to be eased and that
reform needed to be substituted for punishment. She stated
that a "bad" child was the victim of "bad and imperfect
social conditions. Instead of punishing him for what we did,
we will give him what he really never had before--a chance
to be good."[61]


     Dorr spent two and a half years at _Hampton's_, but her
career there ended when the magazine itself fell upon hard
financial times. While circulation soared and advertising
poured in, the magazine failed on the stock market. Owner
Benjamin B. Hampton sold $700,000 worth of stock to 4,500
readers, but he had trouble raising money and charged that
financial difficulties had resulted from editorial policies
that offended businessmen.[62] The editors always were short
of money, especially for salaries. Dorr once requested a
raise and the managing editor replied sarcastically that it
made little difference if the publication owed her two
hundred dollars or a thousand.[63] Despite delays in being
paid, however, the staff stayed on after the magazine was
sold in 1911 to St. Louis publisher Frank Orff. Orff
consolidated the magazine with another of his publications,
Columbian, and it continued as _Hampton-Columbian Magazine_
for a few months. Efforts to save it were unsuccessful and
the magazine folded in May 1912.[64]

     After the magazine failed, Dorr could not find another
job that suited her temperament and her personal reform
agenda. Her fervor for municipal housekeeping tasks
continued, but she had no forum. She wanted to write only
about causes she believed in and, thus, had trouble finding
a new niche for her style of writing. As she put it: "One
of my limitations is that I literally can't do any work
unless I like to do it. I can labor but I cannot drudge. And
it has been my bad luck that almost every congenial job I
ever had, on salary, I mean, I have either outgrown and had
to leave, or my newspaper, magazine, or organization has met

     To make ends meet, she worked as a freelance writer and
lecturer to earn money. Without a forum to write about
municipal housekeeping causes, Dorr sought a new avenue to
express herself. She abandoned her municipal reform writing
and turned instead to the cause of suffrage because she
believed the "suffragists and the feminists...were working
towards a definite goal, constructive, progressive and
sane."[66] Dorr became the first editor of the militant
_Suffragist_.[67] She saw this as a natural extension of her
reform writing. In fact, Dorr had been interested in
suffrage throughout her years at the _Post_ and _Hampton's_.
Thus, when _Hampton's_ folded and salaried work did not
materialize, Dorr moved on to the next stage of her career,
which involved "waking women up to feminism."[68]


     [1] "Rheta C. Dorr, 82, Author, Feminist," New York
Times, 9 August 1948, 19.

     [2] Journalistic involvement in the municipal
housekeeping movement is explored in Agnes Hooper Gottlieb,
"Women Journalists and the Municipal Housekeeping Movement:
Case Studies of Jane Cunningham Croly, Helen M. Winslow, and
Rheta Childe Dorr," (Ph.D. diss., University of Maryland,
1992). For a discussion of the municipal housekeeping
movement in general, see Karen J. Blair, The Clubwoman as
Feminist: True Womanhood Redefined, 1868-1914 (New York:
Holmes & Meier, 1980) and Anne Firor Scott, Natural Allies:
Women's Associations in American History (Urbana, IL:
University of Illinois Press, 1991).

     [3] Frank Luther Mott, A History of American
Magazines, 1905-1930, vol. 5 (Cambridge, MA.: Belknap,
1968), 149.

     [4] Marion Marzolf, Up From the Footnote (New York:
Hastings House, 1977), 45.

     [5] Ishbel Ross, Ladies of the Press (New York: Harper
& Brothers, 1936), 109-116.

     [6] Zena Beth  McGlashen, "Club `Ladies' and Working
`Girls': Rheta Childe Dorr and the New York Evening Post,"
Journalism History 8:1 (Spring 1981): 8.

     [7] "Writers and their Work," Hampton's Broadway
Magazine, June 1909, 863.

     [8] Dorr, A Woman of Fifty (New York: Funk & Wagnalls,
1924), 127.

     [9] Ibid., 117.

     [10] Ibid., 171.

     [11] Ibid., 197.

     [12] Ibid.

     [13] Ibid., 203.

     [14] Ibid., 205.

     [15] Mott, History of American Magazines, vol. 5, 149.

     [16] Ibid., 151.

     [17] Dorr, A Woman of Fifty, 203.

     [18] Mott, A History of American Magazines, vol. 5,

     [19] Louis Filler, The Muckrakers (University Park,
PA: Pennsylvania State University Press, 1968), 273.

     [20] Mott, A History of American Magazines, vol. 5,

     [21] Dorr, A Woman of Fifty, 210.

     [22] Editorial Note, "Give the Working-Girl a Chance,"
Hampton's Broadway Magazine, January 1909, 67.

     [23] Ibid., 68.

     [24] Ibid., 69.

     [25] Ibid., 73.

     [26] Ibid., 77.

     [27] Ibid.

     [28] Rheta Childe Dorr, "The Square Deal for the
Babies," Hampton's Broadway Magazine, April 1909, 514.

     [29] Rheta Childe Dorr, "The Twentieth  Child,"
Hampton-Columbian Magazine, January 1912, 794-795.

     [30] Rheta Childe Dorr, "The Prodigal Daughter,"
Hampton's Broadway Magazine, April 1910, 528.

     [31] Rheta Childe Dorr, "What Eight Million Women
Want," Hampton's Broadway Magazine, August 1909, 175.

     [32] Ibid., 178.

     [33] Rheta Childe Dorr, "What Eight Million Women
Want," Part III, Hampton's Broadway Magazine, December 1909,

     [34] Rheta Childe Dorr, "`The Women Did It' in
Colorado," Hampton's Magazine, April 1911, 433.

     [35] Ibid., 436.

     [36] Dorr, "Breaking into the Human Race," 317.

     [37] Ibid., 329.

     [38] Rheta Childe Dorr, "Deathproof versus Fireproof,"
Hampton's Magazine, June 1911, 688.

     [39] Ibid., 689.

     [40] Ibid.

     [41] Ibid., 691.

     [42] Dorr, "The Twentieth Child," 806.

     [43] Dorr, "The Prodigal Daughter," 526.

     [44] Rheta Childe Dorr, "Making Over the Backward
Child," Hampton's Magazine, June 1910, 814.

     [45] Rheta Childe Dorr, "A Fighting Chance for the City
Child," Hampton's Magazine, July 1910, 108.

     [46] Ibid., 109.

     [47] Rheta Childe Dorr, "The Child's Day in Court,"
Hampton's Magazine, November 1910, 634.

     [48] Ibid., 636.

     [49] Dorr, "Making Over the Backward Child," 822.

     [50] Ibid.

     [51] Rheta Childe Dorr, "A Fighting Chance for the City
Child," Hampton's Magazine, July 1910, 112.

     [52] Ibid., 104.

     [53] Rheta Childe Dorr, "Rebuilding the Child World,"
Hampton's Magazine, October 1910, 495.

     [54] Ibid., 496.

     [55] Rheta Childe Dorr, "A Fighting Chance for the City
Child," Hampton's Magazine, July 1910, 115-116.

     [56] Rheta Childe Dorr, "Rebuilding the Child World,"

     [57] Dorr, "Breaking Into the Human Race," 325.

     [58] Rheta Childe Dorr, "Another Chance for the Bad
Boy," Hampton's Magazine, December 1910, 801.

     [59] Ibid.

     [60] Ibid., 807.

     [61] Rheta Childe Dorr, "Reclaiming the Wayward Girl,"
Hampton's Magazine, January 1911, 78.

     [62] Mott, A History of American Magazines, vol. 5,

     [63] Dorr, A Woman of Fifty, 207.

     [64] Mott, History of American Magazines, vol. 5, 145.

     [65] Dorr, A Woman of Fifty, 209.

     [66] Ibid., 219.

     [67] Maurine H. Beasley and Sheila J. Gibbons, Taking
Their Place: A Documentary History of Women in Journalism
(Washington, DC: American University Press, 1993), 140.

     [68] Dorr, A Woman of Fifty, 224.
Acknowledgements: This article was the winner of the 1993
                  Top Faculty Paper Prize awarded by the
                  Magazine Division of the Association
                  for Education in Journalism and Mass
                  Communication at the annual meeting
                  held in Kansas City, MO in August 1993.
Author Information: Agnes Hooper Gottlieb
                    Department of Communication
                    Seton Hall University
                    South Orange, NJ 07079
                      Copyright 1994
   Communication Institute for Online Scholarship, Inc.

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