From the May 1, 1904 edition of The Sun:
“Newsboy” Josephine Beck?
As Joe Becker She Fooled the Lodging House.
She’s 14, and She Acted Like a Girl in Some Ways, but Her Sex Wasn’t Suspected Until She Had Been Sent to the Children’s Aid Society’s Kensico Farm.
Mrs. Charles F. Beck of Newark, N.J., learned yesterday of the appearance at the Newsboys’ Lodging House in this city of Joe Becker, who turned out to be a girl, and she believes that the child is her fourteen-year-old daughter Josephine, who left home on April 14.
The girl disappeared with part of her father’s and part of her brother’s clothing. In her room were found curls of her hair and the scissors with which she had cut them off.
Mrs. beck came to New York last night searching for the child, who had been sent from the lodging house to the Children’s Aid Society’s farm at Kensico and then, when her sex was discovered, returned to this city.
The officials of the society were noncommittal yesterday about the Joe who should have been Josephine, barely admitting that a girl had been at the lodging house and that she is now in one of their institutions. But the newsboys, Matron Hike and Assistant Superintendent Gordon had ideas of their own and freely expressed them.
“Just eleven days ago—to-night,” said Gordon, consulting his register, “he—er,she—came here late at night and asked for a night’s lodging. That’s not unusual. It happens every night. The only thing I noticed was high scared-like voice and eyes as pretty as a girl’s. Joe—that was the name he gave—was bashful, but lots of boys at first are.
“Now this is the pedigree of Josephine, or whatever his—or her—name is.” And Gordon produced a filled out official blank, which stated:
Name? Joseph Becker.
Born? Newark, N.J., Aug 3, 1889.
Parents? No answer.
Profession of trade? Brush maker.
Last employer? J. J. Pett.
Why not working now? Can’t get any.
Ever been in an institution? No.
How much money have you been making? Three dollars a week.
Can you read or write? Yes.
Where have you been during the last week? Roving.
Have you any friends? No.
the boy-girl got a berth in the big five cent dormitory on the third floor, and slept late the next morning. When she appeared at the superintendent’s office about 11 o’clock she asked for some kind of work, and was told to assist the janitor in cleaning up.
“That’s where my first suspicions came in,” said the janitor. “Never a boy could make a bed quick and tidy as that.”
“I just thought he was the prettiest, sweetest little boy I ever come across,” said Matron Hite. “He was so polite and he used to blush when the boys said things.”
“Gee!” said one of the newsboys in the “Waldorf” dormitory, so called because there are a chair and a little locker for each bed and because the cost is 15 cents the night. “Gee! That kid Joe’s a girl.”
“Say, yer slow, Mike,” answered his partner, “yer slow. Half the fellers called him ‘sis.’ Pat Hanley says she gave herself dead away in the gym first time she went there. Somebody pitched a ball her way and she tried to ketch it in her lap.
“She didn’t want to mix up wid us much, ‘cept in sellin’ papers,” said another boy. “Said she wus from de country and asked Pete to show her how ter sell papers. Den she beats Pete at his own game. Say, she had us conned all right, all right. but I wouldn’t ha’ bullied her so much ef I’d ha knowed she wus a girl.”
Just what the real antecedents of Josephine are, no one seems to know. She told several tales, all of which vary and it is believed that she is a runaway girl. She gave her age at first as 15, later as 14, and it is now stated that she is 13. She is about 5 feet tall, well built, blue eyed and golden haired. Her hair was cut short and parted on one side. She had smooth, fair skin and a pretty mouth and teeth.
The youngster’s real sex, it is said, was not discovered until Wednesday, when the superintendent of the society’s farm at Kensico, where Josephine had been sent, became suspicious and asked the disguised adventuress to reveal her identity. Then she confessed.
From The Evening World on October 12,1887:
“The Evening World’s” Guests.
From the Evening World on September 12, 1890:
Where is Lillie Slitzka?
Strange Disappearance of the Equitable’s Sweet-Faced Newsgirl.
Lillie Slitzka, the rosy-cheeked, brown-haired, demure little creature who has served to the habitues of the Equitable Building their afternoon papers ever since she was but little more than a baby, is missing from her accustomed place in the mellow-tinted rotunda of that big business palace.
Lillie is fifteen years old, but she is small, and still seems to be as much a child as she was when, nine years ago, she first took her stand with her papers under her arm in the old building which stood where the Equitable Building is now.
The child was one of three bairns left to her mother’s care at the death of her father. The Widow Slitzka’s little figure and brisk, business-like ways are familiar to thousands of downtown business me, who have bought their evening papers of her at the corner of Broadway and Cedar street these many years.
The boys, two manly little fellows, have been at work for themselves for some years, and Lillie was also inducted into the work of newspaper selling by her mother. The family were close together in their work, and always went home together at night. They lived in a comfortable little flat at 162 Webster avenue, Jersey City Heights, and between them had laid up a sung little store ‘gainst a rainy day, in a savings’ bank.
Lillie attended the public school up to two years ago, coming over to “business” after school hours. Since then she has [unknown] typewriting and stenography [unknown] Mrs. Vermilye, 816 Broadway.
Two weeks ago the sweet-faced, shy little woman disappeared, and all the efforts of the police of three cities—New York, Brooklyn, and Jersey City—have failed to discover her whereabouts.
“Some time ago she became acquainted with Annie and Mary McGee, who live on the Heights at 241 Central avenue alone,” says the distracted mother.
“One day one of them brought a letter to Lillie, and after reading it she wanted to go to a picnic. I let her go, and that was the last I ever saw of her. I went to the McGee’s next day, but they kept me in the hall while Lillie went out by a back door. She staid with a Mrs. Richards, a good woman, in Park avenue that night.
“I had Mary and Annie McGee before Judge Wanser, but they told him they knew nothing about my little girl.”
Ex-Alderman Tom Cleary, janitor of the Equitable, spoke with much feeling this morning.
“It is all a mystery to me,” he said. “Lillie was a modest, shy little one, not like most girls. I always kept an eye out for her, and no one ever molested her or offered any advances to her except once, and I warned that man, a stranger, out of the building. That was a year ago.
“She was not well developed for her age, and offered no inducement to familiarity or attraction to any villain. I have interested every one I could in tracing her, but I fear some one has taken advantage of her innocence and lured her away.”
Lillie’s place in the rotunda is kept open for her return.
Brace Memorial Lodging House, Collars, Dutch Pete, Five Cent Blokes, life, newsboy code, newsboys, newsboys' house, newsgirls, Paddy the Pug, photographs, Reggie from Paris, savings bank, superintendent Heig, The Man Behind, Waldorf Gang, Waldorf Room
From the New York Tribune’s Illustrated Supplement on April 17, 1904:
Waldorf Room at the Newsboys’ Lodging House
Some Picturesque Characteristics of the Little Fellows Who Sell “Uxtrys” in the Streets of New-York.
Whatever the newsboy may lack in appearance, he has a bottom all the instincts of an aristocrat. Let the sunshine of prosperity beam on him even for a moment, and he buds with the true flowers of a patrician. If he makes a couple of dollars by the help of the Japanese fleet, whose latest manoeuvres has furnished him with a startling bit of news, he spends his money with a lavish hand. instead of a box at the opera, he buys tickets for the “gang” just beneath the grimy roof of some Bowery theatre.
A striking illustration of the “newsies” latent gentility is furnished by a new feature of the Newsboys’ Lodging House, near Chatham Square, which has been called the “Waldorf room.” Although plenty of white, clean beds were to be had in the two big halls for 5 and 10 cents a night, yet an exclusive circle of newsboy society demanded apartments of great privacy. Some of them had obtained work in nearby business houses, where they were enjoying incomes of $10 and $15 a week; and as “Dutch Pete,” who is now loading delivery wagons across the alley from the lodging house expressed it:
“W’en you’se got de wad, you’se might as well lif’ like a gent. An’ yer can’t be a gent widdout piracy. yer can’t mix up wid de bunch and perserve yer rights as a gent.”
“Girls, As Boys, Eat Newsboy Turkey”
From the November 19, 1909 edition of the New York Tribune:
MRS. ELIZABETH S. HURLEY, superintendent of the Children’s Aid Society’s Elizabeth Home for Girls, died of heart disease at the home, No. 307 East 12th street, on Monday. She had been in the service of the society for fifty-four years, and in spite of her advanced age—nearly eighty years—was active and efficient until within a week of her death. Mrs. Hurley began her work for the society in the East River Industrial School, in East 40th street, in the shanty district then (1855) known as Dutch Hill. Mrs. Hurley in all the years of her service cared for upward of twenty thousand girls, endeavoring to teach them habits of industry and to turn them from evil courses. She sent out to situations about three hundred annually, trained for various duties, from laundry work and dressmaking to stenography and typewriting. Her influence and training are to be held responsible, the officers of the society say, for the fact that 12,000 women had led useful lives. Mrs. Hurley was a widow, her husband, an army surgeon, having died in service in the Civil War.
Mrs. Hurley is not the Elizabeth for whom the Home for Girls is named; that honor goes to Elizabeth Davenport Wheeler. Miss Wheeler’s family donated the property at 307 12th Street to the Children’s Aid Society, which moved the previous “Girl’s Temporary Home” there from 27 St. Mark’s Place in 1892.
Miss Horace Greeley Perry.
A Bright Newspaper Woman Who Began Her Career Selling Papers.
Minneapolis dispatch in The Portland Oregonian.
“I have been a newspaper ‘man’ all my life,” said Miss Horace Greeley Perry to the writer recently, “and my connection with the press of the country dates from my christening. My father was a warm admirer of Horace Greeley, and he insisted upon my bearing the name of the greatest American editor. I supposed I am the only girl in the world who is named for the late Editor of The New-York Tribune.”
Miss Horace Greeley Perry is young and pretty, and the proprietor and editor of “The St. James Journal,” of St. Peter, Minn. She is the only woman in the state who edits a paper and she is also the youngest member of her profession in Minnesota.
Miss Perry is a bright sample of what young womanhood can do in business, and her career as editor and publisher has been marked by wonderful success. Editorial blood flows in her veins, as for some generations back her ancestors have been newspaper men. She says that she has risen from the ranks, having started as a newsgirl selling papers on the street. At twelve years of age she began setting type, later doing job work, until, in 1891, she took charge of the paper she now owns.
Although in appearance a mere schoolgirl, she is quite worthy of all the honors her Christian name implies.
Under her able administration “The Journal” secured the county printing contract after a contemporary’s monopoly for twenty-one years. Politically this gifted young woman is a Democrat.
Miss Perry at present is in a hospital, having lately undergone an operation for appendicitis. One of her friends, chatting of her successful career, said: “Twice within its history has St. Peter come near having greatness thrust upon it. Years ago the town was accepted as a capital site by the State, but after the bills passed both houses some wicked man stole the required documents, and St. Peter lots the capital.”
Miss Perry is intensely interested in prison reform work, and is a member of the State Prisoners’ Association. She visits the prisons, and is a friend of the Youngers, the famous outlaws, regularly paying them a visit every month.
Cole C. Younger edits “The Prison Mirror,” and in a late number he paid the following tribute to his friend: “The State Editorial Association may well feel proud of its noble little daughter, who has so bravely assumed the responsibilities of a newspaper career, and who, we fain believe, is destined to inscribe in letters of gold upon our country’s history the honored name of Horace Greeley Perry.”
Originally published in The Sun on July 28, 1898.
Something I think worth mentioning: the acknowledgement that there were newsgirls in the city, in numbers enough to make a distinction between them and newsboys.
On either side of the City a vast forest of iron posts connected by interlacing iron branches is rapidly springing up. By the philosophers and by the general public this spectacle is viewed with very different emotions. The latter sees in the iron forest merely the promise and potency of rapid transit. To the broker, the merchant, or the lawyer it is an elevated railway and nothing more. The philosopher, on the contrary, knows that these miles of aerial iron will have a profound and lasting influence upon humanity, and that rapid transit will be but a mere incident of their mission. They are the framework upon which the theory of Mr. DARWIN will visibly grow and flourish until it bears its ripened fruit. The railway companies have in this instance builded better than they knew. Their minds are occupied with thoughts of passengers, freight, and profits, but they are nevertheless unconsciously erecting what will prove to be a monument in honor of the inventor of the Darwin theory.
In order to get a good start let us in imagination go back to the day when the newly-developed monkeys were quadrupedal and lived on the surface of the ground. How did they become arboreal? The answer is not difficult to find. Attacked by beasts of prey, they sought safety by climbing trees. The larger animals, the elephant, the rhinoceros, and the pre-historic horse, could climb with difficulty, and to this day it is said that if a hunter is pursued by an infuriated elephant and seeks safety in a tree, the trunk of which is too small to be tightly clasped by the animals’ arms and legs, it is very improbable that it will succeed in climbing to the upper branches and seizing its victim. The monkeys soon found that by selecting thing trees with good judgment, they could sit in perfect safety and watch the futile efforts of the larger beasts to climb up to them, while the amusement afforded by seeing a heavy rhinoceros or camel slide suddenly down the trunk of a tree up which he had laboriously climbed ten or fifteen feet, developed the sense of humor which distinguishes the monkeys. Continued practice in climbing gradually converted their feet into hands. In time, their tails, which were originally either purely ornamental like the tail of the pig, or a means of expressing the finer emotions, as is the tail of the cat, became prehensile. The monkeys being thus fitted for perpetual climbing, finally became arboreal, nature, in accordance with the law of development, having provided them with the peculiarities essential to arboreal life.
Next to the monkey, the small-boy is, more than any other animal, addicted to climbing. Many small-boys regard the universe simply as a vast gymnasium furnished with opportunities for climbing which they never fail to improve. The elevated railways will open a perfect paradise for climbing to the myriad small-boys of our streets. The posts are provided either with lattice-work or with large projecting bolts, so that they can be readily ascended. At their summits the boys will find open iron galleries underneath the railway tracks, which can be traversed for miles by any boy who is reasonably agile and careful of his footing. A temptation like this cannot be resisted, and from the day of the completion of the elevated railroads they will swarm with small-boys.
It will be the merest folly to attempt to clear these interminable structures of the boys who will infest them. From the safe height of the elevated road-bed the small-boy can defy alike the terrene Policemen and the aerial railway watchmen. The latter can be placed only at long distances from one another, and will be of no use except at the precise points where they many be placed. As for the Policeman, nature has so constructed him that he climbs with the utmost difficulty, and long before he can toil up a railway post to seize the boy by whose “chaff” he may have been maddened, his intended victim will be half a mile away. Of course, boys will occasionally be cut to pieces by locomotives, or will accidentally fall to the pavement, but the vast majority of the street boys of the City will roam over the iron beams and girders at their own sweet will.
Now, mark the inevitable effect. These boys will in time become arboreal. The history of their development will closely parallel that of the monkeys. Their hands will grow stronger, and their feet, through constantly clutching iron bars, will gradually become so many additional pairs of hands. They will become infinitely more agile than they are at present, and will skip from beam to post with rapidity equal to that of the ablest monkeys. Whether they will develop tails or not is doubtful. Unlike the monkeys, they have no foundation on which to start a prehensile tail, and i t will probably take many years—perhaps centuries—before the elevated railways become peopled with tailed boys. Meanwhile, there is not question that the arboreal boys will imitate most of the tricks to which monkeys are addicted, and we shall ultimately regard the spectacle of small-boys hanging by their heels, or forming living chains wherewith to festoon the naked beams, as a natural and common-place one.
The probability that the wild newsgirl, who, although but recently acclimated among us, is already recognized as a species distinct from the common puella domestica [domestic girl], will share the arboreal habits of the street-boy, opens a vista of possibilities down which the Darwinian vision need not at present seek to perpetrate. It is enough to know that the elevated railroads will slowly but surely lead to the development of a race of arboreal and quadrumanous boys, thus at once illustrating and demonstrating the grand Darwinian theory.
Originally published in the New York Times on March 16, 1878.