By Mrs. Marshall Darrach
“The discovery of the efficiency of the middle-aged woman has been one of the recent joys of the business world,” said Mrs. Robert Armstrong, formerly personnel director of the National City Company in Wall Street, and now personnel secretary of the Eastman Kodak Company at Rochester, New York.
Mrs. Armstrong, when questioned as to the nature of this belated recognition of the merits of the middle-aged woman in business, spoke with enthusiasm and with the voice of authority on this phase of the economic independence of women.
“When do you consider that a woman has reached middle age in the eyes of a businessman?” Mrs. Armstrong smiled. “I know that some men consider a woman elderly at twenty-eight, but the woman under discussion, and who is demonstrating her value in business life, is from forty to fifty. She made her appearance in sufficiently large numbers to permit of a collective scientific study as a war emergency; and what businessmen learned of the sterling qualities of the middle-aged woman when she was fitted into the particular place that had been awaiting her, caused her stock to rise in the employment market.”
Yesterday I posted an article by Idah McGlone Gibson and I mentioned my frustration in finding out much about her as the individual behind the by-line.
I LOVE the Internet!
The Ogden Standard-Examiner, 17 Dec 1933
Gena Philibert-Ortega, the author and blogger behind Food.Family.Ephemera, spotted my plea for information and located some stuff for me. I also searched in Accessible Archives and found a short segment in The American Historical Society’ 1926 History Of Los Angeles County – Volume II in the California County Histories.
Gena found her obituary in The Ogden Standard-Examiner for December 17, 1933 as well as census records and a professional biographical feature on her husband, Henry H. Gibson who died in 1915.
As an aside, this conversation with Gena convinced me to invest in a subscription to Newspapers.com.
I have usually limited myself to what I can find in Chronicling America from the Library of Congress but that only contains material out of copyright before 1922, but for this project I’ll need more material than I can get there.
The following is an expurgated version of her profile from the 1926 History Of Los Angeles County – Volume II.
IDAH MCGLONE GIBSON
Perhaps no other one of that assembly of brilliant women who within the past few years have made Southern California an acknowledged center of cultural and social life is more widely known than Idah McGlone Gibson of Los Angeles County, traveler, novelist, political speaker and newspaper writer. Mrs. Gibson owns a beautiful home at Hollywood, and here are prepared the editorials appearing under the caption The Woman’s Point of View. With an unusually eventful experience of twenty-five years of newspaper work to draw upon, she has a wide and eager audience for everything she writes.
Idah McGlone Gibson was born in Michigan, a member of one of its oldest pioneer families. After marriage, when sixteen years old, to Henry H. Gibson, she continued her education under private tutors. Her literary talent manifested itself early, and she was yet young when she secured her first hearing on the Toledo Blade, making so favorable an impression as a feature writer that she continued with that journal for five years, becoming its dramatic critic. In this position her versatile talents were further brought to light and led her into still another field of enterprise which culminated in her taking over for one season the management of the noted actor, William Collier, on Broadway, Mrs. Gibson being the first or her sex to manage a high-class theatrical star.
As a feature writer Mrs. Gibson’s work has been voluminous, appearing in practically all the leading newspapers. She has also been a contributor to most of the standard magazines, leading a busy but happy literary life. Her exceedingly popular novel, “Confessions of a Wife,” ran as a daily newspaper serial for seven years and contained over 600,000 words.
When the World War came on Mrs. Gibson’s high standing as a newspaper woman immediately projected her into work of the greatest importance, and she was sent to Europe as special publicity woman for the National War Council of the Red Cross. She wrote more war stories and made more Red Cross addresses than any other individual the organization sent abroad. Her countrymen read with interest her newspaper articles concerning the gathering of statesmen at Paris for the Peace Conference and the signing of the Peace Treaty, at which she was one of the very few women present.
Of pleasing personality and agreeable manner, Mrs. Gibson both at home and abroad succeeded in securing many unexpected interviews, despite refusals bitterly complained of by many other newspaper correspondents. Our own General Pershing gave Mrs. Gibson his first published interview. On the night before Germany signified her intention of signing the Treaty of Peace at Versailles she was received by Queen Sophia of Greece and sister of the deposed Kaiser and accorded an interview. On other occasions she interviewed seven of the ruling powers of Europe.
Mrs. Gibson remained in Europe for some time after peace was signed not only because of her work, but because her son was there, for five months being a student in the Sorbonne Paris, after the Armistice.
Kenneth Gibson enlisted in the Eighteenth Field Artillery, Third Division, six days after the United States declared war, and was with them in every major offensive of the American Army. He was gassed at Chateau-Thierry. He returned to the United States with his widowed mother, and it was then that she purchased the beautiful home, Trail’s End, at Hollywood, so that she might be near her only son in his chosen profession of moving pictures. (This IMDB entry is for her son Kenneth Gibson)
In political sentiment Mrs. Gibson is a democrat, and her services in behalf of the League of Nations were more than welcome in the political campaign that followed her return to America. She was associated with the democratic candidate for the presidency, Governor Cox of Ohio, and made 120 speeches between August 17, 1919, and October 1 of the same year. She is a valued member of many well known business and social organizations, including the Woman’s Press Club of Illinois, the Woman’s City Club of New York City, The Gamut Club of New York, an honorary member of the Woman’s Educational Club of Toledo, Ohio, and a charter member of the Woman’s Athletic Club of Los Angeles. As a writer Mrs. Gibson’s work is marked with a sincere human quality which makes a general appeal to all readers irrespective of sex.
Mrs. Idah McGlone Gibson was a dramatic artist and a personal friend of many leading actors and actresses. Her celebrity proximity helped her transition into a writing career in newspapers in the early 20th century.
She wrote features, serials, opinion pieces, and an occasional advice column in answer to a reader’s question.
By 1918 her syndicated stories earned her the title “America’s best known and best beloved newspaper woman” in the trade journal “Editor & Publisher.”
An ad for her World War I era serial “Confessions of a War-Wife” promoted her credentials for the serial:
- Mrs. Gibson personally visited the war zone and has witnessed the effects of “Hun Kultur” that she might have the proper background for her new serial.
- Mrs. Gibson is the only woman who was able to interview General Pershing in France.
- Mrs. Gibson is the only woman who has secured an interview with President Poincaré.
- Mrs. Gibson has talked personally to over a hundred-thousand wives, mothers and sweethearts of soldiers. No writing woman today knows well the changed conditions the war had brought to both men and women. (I’d love to know how they justified that ‘over a hundred-thousand wives’ number.)
For a woman who produced so much writing in newspapers, there is not a lot written about her life and history. I’d love to share more about her background but I just cannot find anything! She is mentioned in three books available through Amazon, but all three mentions are where a quote from one of her stories or interviews is used in relation to the subject of her interview and not her, herself.