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.
Between the World War I years when many men were serving overseas and the passage of the Nineteenth Amendment, the years 1910-1925 were full of firsts for women. Some firsts represented major changes in the opportunities open to women in American society and some were just stunts or examples of woman flexing their growing independence.
From military service to civil service to new occupations, these women were of interest to the American population at large. Women taking on new roles made the news nationwide.
Jeannette Pickering Rankin was the first woman to hold high government office in the United States when she won a seat in the United States Congress in 1916.
Rankin, born 1880, was the eldest daughter of a rancher and a schoolteacher near Missoula, Montana, on June 11, 1880. She graduated from Montana State University in 1902 and moved on to the New York School of Philanthropy (later the Columbia University School of Social Work). After working briefly as a social worker in Spokane, Washington, she entered the University of Washington in Seattle.
Rep. Jeanette Rankin of Montana, right with muff, reading The Suffragist (1917)
It was there that Rankin joined the local woman suffrage movement that achieved its goal in Washington State in 1910. She eventually became a professional lobbyist for the National American Woman Suffrage Association (NAWSA). Her speaking and organizing efforts helped Montana women gain the vote in 1914.
Rankin decided in 1916 to run for a House seat from Montana. Some woman suffrage leaders feared she would lose the race and hurt the cause nationally, but Rankin secures a GOP nomination for one of Montana’s two At-Large House seats on August 29, 1916.
She campaigned as a progressive, pledging to work for a woman suffrage amendment and emphasizing social welfare issues. A long time pacifist, Miss Rankin did not shy away from letting voters know how she felt about U.S. participation in the European war that had, by then, been raging for two years: “If they are going to have war, they ought to take the old men and leave the young to propagate the race.”
Rankin came in second place statewide so won one of Montana’s seats.
I was flipping through some older newspapers and saw a suffrage cartoon that gave me the idea of searching for old news items with the phrase “woman’s place is.”
Boy! There is a lot to pick from. I will have to revisit this set of documents from time to time, but this item jumped out at me and introduced me to a woman I had never heard of by the name of Jeannette Bates.
It was in the Chicago based The Day Book in 1917:
Chicago, January 10, 1917: Bosh! It was Jeannette Bates, woman lawyer, just appointed assistant attorney general of Illinois, who “boshed” a smiling “bosh” across a paper-Uttered desk in answer to the question: “Do you agree in the argument that woman will never attain an important place in law?”
Miss Bates has just taken a place
beside Congressman Jeannette Rankin in the political procession.
“Woman’s place is wherever she makes good,” said Miss Bates. “Some women will make good in the court; some in the kitchen.
“I know Clarence Darrow has just said the woman lawyer may not make a living in the law. Well, I know some, men lawyers whose living – made in the law is rather lean.
“Mr. Darrow said, ‘Women are too kind to succeed as corporation lawyers, they cannot fight the soulless trusts.
“But women have fought trusts,” declared Miss Bates. “Ida Tarbell’s heart never weakened her fighting qualities.
“To go back to this matter of making a living in the law. When I was teaching I made $1,200 a year. The first year I practiced law I made more than $1,200. Since I have been practicing I have acquired a comfortable, seven-room bungalow, a garden and chickens.
“As women are gaining more political power,” continued the woman who has the state of Illinois for a client, “the law rather than medicine or teaching is attracting women. We used to be told the ‘legal mind’ was a man monopoly. Women seem to be proving there are no monopolies in the professions.”
via The Day Book, January 9, 1917