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Anonymous in Their Own Names

Doris E. Fleischman, Ruth Hale, and Jane Grant

Susan Henry

Publication Year: 2012

Anonymous in Their Own Names recounts the lives of three women who, while working as their husbands' uncredited professional partners, had a profound and enduring impact on the media in the first half of the twentieth century. With her husband, Edward L. Bernays, Doris E. Fleischman helped found and form the field of public relations. Ruth Hale helped her husband, Heywood Broun, become one of the most popular and influential newspaper columnists of the 1920s and 1930s. In 1925 Jane Grant and her husband, Harold Ross, started the New Yorker magazine.

Yet these women's achievements have been invisible to countless authors who have written about their husbands. This invisibility is especially ironic given that all three were feminists who kept their birth names when they married as a sign of their equality with their husbands, then battled the government and societal norms to retain their names. Hale and Grant so believed in this cause that in 1921 they founded the Lucy Stone League to help other women keep their names, and Grant and Fleischman revived the league in 1950. This was the same year Grant and her second husband, William Harris, founded White Flower Farm, pioneering at that time and today one of the country's most celebrated commercial nurseries.

Despite strikingly different personalities, the three women were friends and lived in overlapping, immensely stimulating New York City circles. Susan Henry explores their pivotal roles in their husbands' extraordinary success and much more, including their problematic marriages and their strategies for overcoming barriers that thwarted many of their contemporaries.

Published by: Vanderbilt University Press

Table of Contents

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pp. ix-x

These biographies of three women owe the most to two men. Edward L. Bernays first sat down with me for several days of interviews at age ninety four, then invited me back to his Cambridge, Massachusetts, home for two more . . .

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Introduction: "My name is the symbol of my own identity and must not be lost"

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pp. 1-7

Edward L. Bernays had so often and persuasively declared he never would marry that his family was convinced the name Bernays would not be passed on to the next generation, since he had four sisters but was the only son. In reaction, . . .

I. Doris E. Fleischman

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1. "I just knew she was the brightest woman I'd ever met"

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pp. 9-24

The woman who would help invent the field of public relations and make headlines for keeping her birth name after she married was born on July 18, 1892, into a highly traditional upper-middle-class family ruled by Victorian . . .

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2. "I won the right by the device of understatement"

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pp. 25-39

“Independent” was the single-word headline on many of the stories about Fleischman that ran in more than 250 newspapers in 1922. At Bernays’s insistence, she had kept her birth name when they married, and after a brief . . .

Doris E. Fleischman Illustrations

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pp. 41-48

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3. "Keeping up the appearance of independence"

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pp. 49-64

When Fleischman was about to give birth in April 1929 and checked into a fashionable maternity hospital—later described by a police-reporter friend as “that swank Stork’s Retreat on Park Ave. where they use Chanel No. 5 . . .

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4. "Whatever your job is, you do it"

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pp. 65-80

Of all the responses Fleischman received to “Notes of a Retiring Feminist,” surely the most surprising was an invitation to help revive the organization she had disparaged in her article and that had been dormant for more . . .

II. Ruth Hale

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5. "She totally conquered where she came from"

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pp. 83-95

At an early age Ruth Hale rebelled against life in Rogersville, Tennessee, the small, racially segregated town in the northeastern corner of the state where she was born on July 5, 1886. She seems to have almost always . . .

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6. "A married woman who claims her name is issuing a challenge"

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pp. 97-114

Entering the back of the church at which she had grudgingly agreed to be married, the bride heard the opening chords of Mendelssohn’s wedding march rumbling from the organ. The groom’s mother, who had broken her . . .

Ruth Hale Illustrations

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pp. 115-123

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7. "It was a curious collaboration"

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pp. 125-142

Early in 1923 Hale did something that would bring her great pleasure but seemed the height of folly. She bought ninety-four acres of infertile land—complete with an eleven-acre shallow lake, two dilapidated houses, and a . . .

III. Jane Grant

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8. "I meant to remain in the East once I got there"

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pp. 145-159

Very few young women, let alone those who grew up in rural America at the turn of the twentieth century, could have imagined they ever would encounter such a scene. Probably in 1915, when she was working as a stenographer . . .

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9. "There would be no New Yorker today if it were not for her"

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pp. 161-176

Grant arrived at the Little Church Around the Corner wearing the slightly frayed cinnamon-colored silk dress she had bought in France and worn during many months of performing there and in Germany. It was a busy day . . .

Jane Grant Illustrations

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pp. 177-186

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10. "I really preferred to get my financial reward from the magazine"

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pp. 187-202

Her name on their divorce papers was one she had never used. Jane Grant Ross, the plaintiff, was granted a divorce from the defendant, Harold W. Ross, to take effect in early September 1929. The inaccuracy of her . . .

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11. "I'm Miss Grant, though married—and happily, too"

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pp. 203-217

Grant and Harris quickly realized they had set an impossible goal in the name they’d chosen for their new business. “By that time we had become rather sophisticated gardeners, so sophisticated that we had turned the . . .

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Coda: "I still feel that she is looking over my shoulder"

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pp. 219-230

The day after Doris E. Fleischman died in July 1980, Edward L. Bernays issued a press release that was as revealing of him as it was of her. It began: “Doris Fleischman Bernays, 88, pioneer counsel on public relations, author, editor, . . .


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pp. 231-276

Selected Bibliography

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pp. 277-281


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pp. 283-294

E-ISBN-13: 9780826518484
Print-ISBN-13: 9780826518460

Page Count: 304
Publication Year: 2012

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Subject Headings

  • Bernays, Doris Fleischman, 1891-.
  • Hale, Ruth, 1887-1934.
  • Grant, Jane C., 1892-1972.
  • Wives -- United States -- Biography.
  • Women -- United States -- Biography.
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