Student Writing


This category is for students of mine who have written something they want to share. We welcome positive feedback and questions that will help them grow as writers!

Student Writing: Puppy Mills


7th grade


Have you ever wondered where your dog came from before you found it in the window of a puppy store? Well chances are they came from a puppy mill. So what is a puppy mill? Imagon metal grates stacked on top of each other for rows and rows in those grates are insane numbers of dogs with little to no food, shelter, water, or adequate care, this is a puppy mill, those dogs in the grates have no human interactions and are forced to breed over and over again. I believe people shouldn’t buy a dog from a place where you can’t verify where it is from such as puppy mills.

In places like puppy mills most dogs are mistreated. First of all, entire litters are faced with lack of food and veterinary care and suffer from exposure. If the puppies survive the nasty conditions of puppy mills, they are sent away on a dangerous journey to puppy stores, where they still don’t receive loving human contact. In addition, tiny puppies are forced away from their mothers and prepared to be sold to puppy stores. The preparation includes stuffing large numbers of puppies into crates with no food, water, shelter, or ventilation. The puppies are stuffed into disgusting, crowded kennels and sent on their way to the puppy shops. Mary-Jo Dionne, author of “Puppy Hell: The Horrors of Puppy Mills,” illustrates the scene of a puppy mill: “Picture, if you will, a warehouse. Imagine, within this warehouse, row after row and shelf after shelf of inventory stuffed into cramped, makeshirt cages. The ‘inventory’ in each box is half a dozen or more puppies, frequently hungry, sickly, and covered in the feces of the ‘inventory’ shelved above them. And above them.” This shows buying and dog from a place like this is just supporting puppy mills, not helping end them. In brief, these places clearly do mistreat their dogs which is unfair to the buyers and the dogs.

When buying a dog from these places, there is a high chance the dog was inbred or has diseases due to bad living conditions. To begin with, due to poor enforcement of laws, sick puppies continue to be sold in store fronts. Also, because of the high chance your dog was inbred, there is always the concern of bad temperament or health, and this sadly occurs quite often. For example, in an article published by PETA called “Puppy Mills: Dogs Abused for the Pet Trade,” the organization writes, “Dogs are bred for quantity, not quality, so unmonitored genetic defects and personality disorders that are passed on from generation to generation are common.” Have you ever thought about what happens to dogs that have genetic diseases or disorders? That’s right; they get killed. Although you may get a perfectly good dog, you have to think about how many dogs have been killed to get you that one good dog. Supporting places like this shows that you think of dogs as products not as living animals, just like the owners of puppy mills think.

Supporting these businesses only grows them and influences other people seeking to make a profit to do the same, at the expense of the animals. In fact, dogs are very easy to breed, and this allows people to produce a lot of puppies cheaply and make a large profit. Therefore, since this is such an easy market, it encourages people to do the same, instead of being the kind of breeder who spends the money to take good care of their dogs, which can be very costly. Regardless, I still believe people should seek to adopt puppies from rescues or shelters, because even with a high standard breeder, there’s still the chance the dog is inbred. But also, The Rolling Stone Magazine argues that online sales of puppies are “the perfect crime…Courts don’t care about out-of-state victims, and feds don’t even fine breeders, much less arrest them, for selling sick pups on bogus sites.” This shows that the courts aren’t going to do anything about it. That means we have to, and the only way to do this is to stop buying puppies from sketchy places like pet stores and websites that buy from puppy mills. Even though puppy mills can sell purebred dogs, they’re not worth it and you’re supporting bad business and showing other people they could do the same and nobody would stop them.

Even though puppy mills exist and will likely continue to exist that does not mean people should buy from them. Puppy mills are horrific places where no animal should ever have to live. Please think twice before you let yourself fall in love with that puppy in the window and help others do the same.

March 12th, 2020|

Student Writing: Police: An Exploration


13 years old 

7th Grade (Homeschooled)


An Exploration 


The word ‘police’ comes from the Greek word for city, polis. Over time it developed into the Latin root politia, meaning civil administration. Since then it has become the French word for regulating and controlling a community and later turned into the word we know today. Police. When we think of police, we think of men in blue uniforms, maybe with guns or even in a crisis, saving lives or other times interfering with things they shouldn’t be. We hear a lot in the news today about how police saved the day, how police risked their lives to save an individual or a group but we are also hearing about gun violence and police brutality. As I learned more and more about this topic of interest, the police, I began to wonder how actual policemen are viewing this issue, what other people in my community think and what my views should be. In this paper we are going to learn about the issue of police brutality, what actually officers think about this attention, police heroism, the history of police in America and other countries, the training of a police officer, gun violence, and many more things. I believe this issue is important to learn about because of how many strong opinions I have heard and how much our lives overlap with policing. Even in ways we don’t know about. By the time you have reached the conclusion of my paper I hope you have learned more about this topic and have developed more of an opinion. 


There are two sides of the history of Police that have merged together over time to create the force we know today. One side is a story of heroism and members of colonial communities stepping up to protect each other, the other, not so much. First we are going to look into the slave trade. In the 1600’s and 1700’s the United States, specifically New England and Florida were being flooded with ships from coastal regions bringing in slaves to shackle and sell to the highest bidders. In this time there was an immediate call to the community for workers to help manage the large numbers of slaves and maintain order. A few wealthy slave owners were hiring men to ride along the farm fields and factories on horseback and make sure no slaves were running away or doing things that broke the slave holders’ rules.They were called the Partollers, or pattyrollers. At first this need started out small, just a few people up for the task, but by the late 1670’s the system had turned into one of the biggest organizations of its time in the United States. In a report published by the Medium, entitled  Slavery and the Origins of the American Police State, they called it ‘a comprehensive system of radially directed law enforcement.’  

The second branch was started by a small group of community members in a colonial village who stepped up to become a part of protecting the new country. They would patrol around neighborhoods, night and day, making sure everyone was safe and protecting each other from the threats in this new world. These two types of law enforcement brought about by new needs of a growing community combined in later years. Taking the bravery and strength from the community and the new rules and regulations to keep the community in line from the government. I suppose the history of police is complex and multifaceted. The bad side coming from slavery and ratial inequality and the good side coming from bravery and strength in numbers. A lot of people would say that there is only the bad side of it. That the negatives in the history of police outweigh the positives. But I think that that’s ignoring a powerful step in the building and the history of humanity and the United States. Others might say that we don’t need to think about the negative things, that because the members of this community stepped up and were brave that we can ignore the other half of this history. But I also think that would be neglecting an important piece of information and denying that this history is both good and bad. 

Historians and politicians divide the history of police into three eras. First, the political era. This was a time where there was controversy on the purpose of police and what their goal was. They were people to trust and people to be wary of at the same time. Next was the professional era. When police were first becoming an actual paying job and police officers were taken seriously. This time was full of invention and creativity. Based in 1920 to 1970, at the end of World War I and the beginning of a Republican leadership, police were taking on a role in American Society and protecting the community as they always did. But with the changing times and the brewing thoughts of World War II, the police were also becoming more military based. Last was the community era: when police really took it into their own hands to protect the community and people volunteered to help and risk their lives for others. Now, some people in the United States are looking forward to a fourth era. While we don’t know what this era would look like it would probably focus around some members of the community wanting the police force to change in small or major ways due to gun violence, police brutality and racial and gender inequality.  

Police Training

The training that makes a police officer differs from state to state and country to country but there is a basic process of training most officers go through. In Massachusetts the minimum age you can become a police officer is 19 but other places differ from 17 to 21. Former officer Ali Wicks-Lim, described her time at the Police Academy for me in an interview. She said that the training process known as ‘paramilitary training’ is designed to prepare you to interfere physically in a fight, how to shoot a gun and how to arrest someone in the field but also how to act in high pressure situations and emotionally charged interactions. Ali described how police officers at the Academy took the cadets neatly folded clothing and dumped it all in a pile on the ground while ordering them to do different things all at once. This exercise was to ready them for situations in the field that didn’t go their way such as an interaction with a civilian resulting in conflict or a domestic violence situation that results in confrontation. Chief Kasper of Northampton explained that the academy prepares you for a variety of things but you can never really prepare yourself for field work. 

The Weapons Police Use and Gun Violence in the United States 

Police carry an assortment of weapons including a variety of handguns, rifles, shotguns, pepper spray, tear gas, and batons on a daily basis. There is a long history of police misusing these weapons in different ways. On June 11, 2019 in Phoenix Arizona, a police officer was fired for pulling a gun out on a four year old African American girl and her parents when she took a doll form a Dollar Store accidentally. And there is a long list of dead civilians and police who have been killed from these weapons. But police also use these weapons to save lives everyday. In USA Today’s paper, they stated that “nearly 90% of police agree that mass shootings would be ‘reduced’ or ‘avoided altogether,” if everyone carried a gun. Another statistic showed that over 60% of gun owners carry them because they say needed protection. Recently a report came out by Investor’s Business Daily that said that over 11,000 lives are saved every year from guns and about a fourth of that number is saved by police with guns. Yet, still in 2017 there were over 39,773 deaths from gun violence. Police use these weapons to protect us but there are still consequences. Imagine what the police force would look like without guns.There may be a significant decrease in gun violence but what if an officer encounters someone with a gun who has reason to act violently? Northampton’s Chief of police, Jody Kasper, said that if we are trusting police officers to risk their lives for us then we must always give them the right to protect themselves as well. If we took away police officers guns we wouldn’t have the same police force but we would have much less gun violence and much less death. In England, some police do not carry guns on their person. Former officer Alli Wicks-Lim, said that her most important tool on her tool belt was her notebook. 

At all times, police officers wear a duty belt that has all their equipment and weapons including a notebook, a walkie talkie and a handgun. Police officers are required to carry a gun at all times (in the United States) as protection and a notebook to take notes at a crime scene so that the information can come completely first hand.      

Community Opinions: 

Stereotypes and Views of the Police Force

During my research I have found that several websites and sources had a strong bias on this controversial topic. Sources that tend to be pro police often gave a lower number of civilian deaths caused by officers, and sources that tended to be anti police gave higher numbers. In many cases numbers were presented with missing details and misleading information. For example, many sources just reported the number of civilians killed, whereas others gave details of the crime committed by each civilian or the circumstances surrounding the death. This presents a clearer picture especially if an officer was under threat. Here I have gathered several statistics that I find considerably trustworthy and unbiased. 

Police Officers on Duty

When we think of a police officer many people often think of the white, unsmiling men in blue uniforms with guns at their waists and an air of authoritarian aggression about them. There is also frequently an “us against them” mentality present, possibly bordered with fear or occasionally rooted in things we have heard from the current news dialog or from past experience. Questions arise when presented with this stereotype such as: “Doesn’t this field of work draw aggressive, power-hungry people?” or “Does this field of work and training force people to be like this?” The news often dictates the portrayal of the police as a group when in reality, every officer is different. Personality plays a big role in discouraging this stereotype. Many people in the police force can be stern and intimidating but a lot of people are really funny and interactive, just like it would be in a regular office building. We really need to discourage this negative stereotype if we want the police force to grow or change in any way. There are female police officers, there are African American police officers, there are LGBTQ members of our comuinity on the force. However, statistics show that only about 20% of police are female whereas about 80% of police are male. Transgender and LGBTQ members of police forces weren’t even included in most statistics. Around 75% of officers are white whereas only about 25% are black. If we want to continue to diversify our police forces, making them more representative of the communities they serve, we need to abandon these stereotypes. In order to continue to have a police force to protect us from gun violence to minor car crashes, we have to respect that they are people and they are just as different from each other as anyone else.     

Women in Law Enforcement

Over the years the population of women in law enforcement has grown substantially. Many women in law enforcement believe they must go above and beyond, presenting the stern, cold, unforgiving image to prove themselves in the field and academy. Women can be judged more critically for their physical size and strength and have to work hard to overcome historical perceptions of women as being physically weak. The reality is that women are just as capable as their male counterparts of being good police officers and bring a different and unique way of enforcing the law and holding the public accountable. Women go through the same training as men and studies show that men and women are just as capable as each other. 

African American  

Negative and incorrect stereotypes about African American people in our culture include the belief that African Americans are more likely to be poor and engage in criminal activity, and they are more likely to abuse substances and act as perpetrators of illegal gun activity. The labels given to Black people when they violate the law are often very different from the labels given to their White counterparts. For example, the media and public are very quick to point out mental illness as a contributing factor to gun violence massacres committed by White individuals, where Black individuals are usually just labeled as criminals and enemies of the public. There is also a common belief that African Americans are more responsible for the criminal activity in the US than White Americans are. In fact, according to some statistics, White people in the United States committed over 68.9% of crimes in 2017, while black people only committed 27.2%. It’s not that black people are more likely to commit crimes, but rather they are more likely to be convicted because of the stereotypes placed on black people in the United States. Other statistics show that in the U.S black people are 2.5 times more likely to be shot by police than white people are. 



The laws that govern our everyday lives are enforced by your local police force. Each police force is made up of real people who live and work in your community. Therefore, everything that happens to the police force directly impacts you and your community everyday. The issues and controversies surrounding the police are important for every citizen to pay attention to. Because so many people have started to pay attention to the police and look ahead to the fourth era of policing, there have been several major and important changes on the national and local level. For example, in 2015 the city of Northampton, Massachusetts elected its first female chief of police, Chief Kasper, and she has done an outstanding job to connect the community with police and discourage stereotypes of all kinds. Police academies strategies to combat racial inequality, police brutality and gun violence have developed and grown over the years to provide safety in the community. Support groups for police officers have grown and become a part of policing over time and are now helping the officers that risk their lives for us everyday to overcome emotional challenges. Most people don’t think about the police in their everyday lives. But, after reading this essay, wherever your bias may stand, we must keep learning and teaching others about police. Acknowledging the positive and negative aspects of policing in our country with honesty, curiosity, and an open mind will help us work towards the kind of society we want. On one hand, police officers choose to risk their lives everyday to protect us from small to big ways, from car crashes to school shootings. On another, the United States today, there are more children that die of gun violence than cancer every year. Only about 20% of officers in the US are women and just under 15% of officers are black, emphasizing the major gap in representation. Whatever your bias may be, if we want our police academy to grow and keep changing for the better, then we must educate ourselves about police.      




“The civil force of a national or local government, responsible for the prevention and detection of crime and the maintenance of public order.” – Dictionary 

In an interview with me, Chief Jody Kasper of Northampton stated that “The purpose of the police is to maintain order and insure people have the best quality of life they can have.” 

Police Brutality: “Police brutality is an extreme form of police violence involving physical harm or death to a person or animal. Widespread police brutality exists in many countries and territories, even those that prosecute it. Although illegal, it can be performed under the color of law.” – Wikipedia 

Guns: Police officers in the US are required to carry a gun on them at all times. Originally, this invention was used to defend yourself but over the years it has been turned into a weapon that most fear. The official definition of a gun is: “a weapon incorporating a metal tube from which bullets, shells, or other missiles are propelled by explosive force, typically making a characteristic loud, sharp noise.”  


Bias: As described earlier in this paper, a bias is a preconceived belief system or idea that is rooted in past experiences or things we have heard that help us come to a conclusion or answer when making a decision.   

Stereotype: Put simply, a stereotype is a widely held but fixed and oversimplified image or idea of a particular type of person or thing.” – Dictionary 

Colonial: The definition of colonial as a whole is a group of living things working together to build a community and a systematic way of life that depends on each other for food, water, shelter and many other things. But since the age of Christopher Columbus, the word colonial stands to represent the history of the US. 

Slavery: “A slave is a person owned by someone and slavery is the state of being under the control of someone where a person is forced to work for another. A slave is considered as a property of another as the one controlling them purchases them or owns them from their birth.” – US Legal Dictionary

Pattyrollers: Slave patrols called patrollers, patterrollers, pattyrollers or paddy rollers, by the slaves, were organized groups of armed white men who monitored and enforced discipline upon black slaves in the antebellum U.S. southern states.” – Wikipedia 


Appendix 1. Politics and Current Events

 In the news today we hear a lot about the police. The information sources provide differs substantially due to their bias, the date they were published, who they were sponsored by and many other factors. In this section of my paper I want to look at some examples of bias sources, politicians views on this topic, reliable resources to learn about the police from and events that are happening in the news and in our community today.

First, we are going to look into the beliefs some politicians and democratic presidential candidates running for the 2020 election may hold. In his time running for office, Cory Booker has shown that he has many ideas to combat police brutality and racial inequality in law enforcement. He believes that we must follow the data to the root of the problem and sort up from there. In a video released a few months ago, Booker said that if we do this we can “identify problems and actually help solve them.” He believes that society’s stereotypes are to blame for racial descrimination, not law enforcement as a whole. And while many police officers may hold untrue beliefs about black people and abuse their power this is the same for many other individuals in society, we should not place another incorrect and unfair stereotype on police that they are all racist. In contrast to Cory Booker, Julián Castro, another democratic candidate running for election in 2020, believes that law enforcement needs to be rethought completely. “How many of these videos do we have to watch to understand that even though we have some great police officers, this is not a case of bad apples?” He asked a few months ago, “The system is broken, so let’s fix it.” Another Democratic presidential candidate, Joe Biden, believes that the system we have now is the best one we could ever dream of. “We can fight terror and fight violent crime at the same time, but we need to keep focused on what works,” He said in a speech he made a few years ago. “And what works in the fight against crime? It’s simple — more police on the streets.” Biden still backs these beliefs strongly. Talking to a group of officers a few years ago he said,”We are safer and more secure today than we have been in decades, thanks to your hard work and dedication.” 

There are many sources today to learn more about police, politicians, racial inequality and gun violence. It is interesting sometimes, to research topics from one point of view and then from another when finding what your opinion is. From one point the history of police stems from slavery and if that is true we can overlook other factors, like where we are today and how many lives police have saved. And from another point we can look past the fact the police have saved so many lives because of the lives we have lost, police and not, from this field of duty. Here I have collected a list of sources that have a strong bias but are extremely interesting to research. While looking into these sites pay attention to who is sponsoring them, how eager they are or aren’t to put forward their bias and the stereotypes they do or don’t play into and encourage.  

The Trace  (a very ani-police organization so make sure to keep in mind their bias), 

Fox News (an extremely right-wing organization who is very pro police) 

NPR (their bias is usually liberal and whether they are ani police or pro police differs due to circumstances) 

USA Today (another generally pro- police source, mostly right – wing, pay attention to who they quote and how eager they are to let their bias show in this paper)   

The New York Times (their bias differs from paper to paper but keep in mind they are probably more likely to release information on police brutality than others) 

Appendix 2. Interviews 

To get a better idea of what police officers today think of these issues and to learn more about police as a whole I interviewed three different kinds of police officers in my community. To put their quotes and references into context, I have created a short profile for each. 

Ali Wicks-Lim:

Ali worked as a college campus police officer. In her time there she did everything from working overnight shifts and responding to calls to organizing self defense classes and community outreach programs for the students and staff. She was also a sensitive crimes investigator which meant that if there were any incidents of a sensitive nature she would run those investigations. She has worked hard to protect the students living and learning on campus. 


Sean Norris:

Sean Norris works as an Assistant Chief Probation Officer in Dorchester Massachusetts. A probation officer is someone who works with individual offenders of the law to help prevent them from committing new crimes and to hold them accountable to their old ones. He has worked with the Probation Department for over 23 years and before that he was a social worker for nine. He believes that his job requires the skill set of both a police officer and a social worker and incorporates this belief everyday in his job. 


Jody Kasper:

Chief Kasper became the first woman chief of police of Northampton, in 2015. Since then she has worked her hardest to improve Northampton in so many ways including connecting members of the community with officers on a daily basis, discouraging stereotypes about women in law enforcement and being there for her community not only as an officer and chief but as a human and citizen herself. Being the first woman chief of police in Northampton, she has done an outstanding job, not only living up to the standards of the last chief, but going beyond them for her community and her officers.

Appendix 3. Other Points of Interest 

The KGB: Translated to English, the KGB stands for Committee for State Security. It was the main security organization for the Soviet Union from 1954 to 1991. But for most it didn’t provide security. For many this organization was built on fear and pain and that was the only thing they brought. They were considered a form of extreme police. Their leaders and founders were part of the Council of Ministers; Kliment Voroshilov, Nikolay Pegov , Presidium of the Supreme Soviet.

Special Police: “Special police usually describes a police force or unit within a police force whose duties and responsibilities are significantly different from other forces in the same country or from other police in the same force, although there is no consistent international definition.” – Wikipedia 

The definition of the Special Police differs from place to place. Most police forces have small groups of officers that have specific jobs they are assigned. The specific jobs range from traffic stops, security, patrolling campuses, detective work, highway patrol, fish and game wardens and many more. 


Waxman, Olivia. “How the U.S. Got its Police Force.” Time Magazine, May 18th, 2017,

“Police Brutality in the United States.” Wikipedia, 

Fountain, Ben. “Slavery and the Origins of the American Police State.” The Medium, Sep 17, 2018,

Moore, Leonard. “Police Brutality in the United States.” Britannica, July 8th, 2016, 

French, David. “How to Sustain a False Police Shooting Crisis.” National Review, August 26th, 2016,  

Lebron, Audrea. “Examples of Community Policing Strategies at Work.” Rave, April 10th, 2019,

Schodolski, Vincent. “KGB Legacy of Abuse Faces Soviet Enquiry.” Chicago Tribune,

Pratt, Eric. Gin owners of America.” USA Today, Aug 5th, 2005, 

“13 Statistics That Tell the Story of Gun Violence in 2018.” The Trace, December 25th, 2018

Wadman, Meredith. “Guns kill more U.S. kids than cancer. This emergency physician aims to prevent those firearm deaths.” The AAAS, Dec 6th, 2018

“The Washington Post Police Shooting Database.” Washington Post, 2017

“Police Officers.” Data USA,

Buchholz, Kathrina. “How Many People Are Killed by Police in the U.S.?” Statista, Nov. 1st, 2019

Chappell, Bill. “More Police Officers Died From Gunfire Than Traffic Incidents In 2018, Report Says.” NPR, December 27th, 2018


this is my blog post.

January 2nd, 2020|

Student Writing: The History of Photography

By Mason


When you think of a “camera” what image comes to mind? Most likely you are thinking of a big DSLR (digital single lens reflex) camera, or maybe your point and shoot, or maybe even your smartphone camera. 

What you probably don’t think of is a film camera, or the camera obscura which was invented nearly two thousand years ago. 

Even if you are knowledgeable about the older versions of cameras, you may not be aware of the lesser-known versions that were the stepping stones of camera development between the major advancements. It is incredibly interesting to learn about how photography became what it is today. The first photographic processes used dangerous chemicals contributing to the early deaths of many photographers at that time. Then, when the glass plate process was invented, photographers had to lug around big heavy glass plates as the medium for their pictures. Even the early digital cameras had slower shutter speeds making it hard for photographers to capture movement.

Now, with the click of a button or the touch of a screen, it is possible to capture a split second, in increasingly impressive quality. In this essay I won’t just examine the workings of the modern camera, I will also look at how photography began and many of the major advancements, improvements, and changes photography went through to become the digital photography we have today. In addition, I will describe many of the photographic processes that were involved in developing pictures taken with all different methods. 

Part 1

There were a couple of major inventions that led to the invention of the first camera. The first such breakthrough was the camera obscura. The camera obscura is a small room with a small hole cut out from the wall. This creates a projection of the image of the scene outside of the room on the wall opposite the hole, only upside down. This concept was most likely known over “two thousand years ago”(Rosenblum). Its name literally translates to “Dark Room.” The camera obscura was often used by artists. They would trace the image that showed up on the wall to replicate the scene on paper. However, soon scientists started searching for a way to create the pictures entirely mechanically. In 1727, Johann Heinrich, a German professor of anatomy, discovered that “the darkening of silver salts, a phenomenon known since the 16th century and possibly earlier, was caused by light and not heat”(Rosenblum). This discovery was significant because for a camera to work there must be some kind of light-sensitive material involved so the image will be saved. These were the first two steps toward the machine that could record events in a split second but it took until the 19th century for the first camera to be invented.

In 1826 or 1827 the first photograph was taken by Joseph Nicéphore Niépc, an inexperienced inventor. He invented a process called heliography (sun drawing) where he used a pewter plate coated with a mixture of bitumen of Judea and water. He would then dry the plate over heat. Next, he would put the plate into a camera obscura, the room previously used by artists now downsized to a large box. It took eight hours to create this picture of a rooftop that was outside of his window. During the exposure time, the bitumen exposed to light would harden and turn a lighter shade. He would then develop the photograph by using lavender oils to wash off the bitumen that was not hardened by light. These parts were places in the image where the light was blocked out, for example by the buildings in the image. And the darker shades were represented by the metal. The result was this picture of a French rooftop taken outside of his house window.

Left: The unedited photograph of Niépc’s window view

Right: The retouched photograph of Niépc’s window view

Niépc was probably the biggest pioneer of photography because he figured out how to do it. But photography didn’t really become popular until Louis-Jacques-Mandé Daguerre, who knew Niépc for part of his life, invented a new process: the Daguerreotype.

Daguerre’s method was quite similar to Niépc’s, except for a few key details. First, instead of using a pewter plate, Daguerre used a silver-coated copper plate that was shiny like a mirror after it was buffed and polished. After coating his plate with iodine and bromine, he would expose the plate in a camera obscura like Niépc. This process originally took fifteen minutes, but after some improvements to the chemicals involved, Daguerre’s process ended up taking less than a minute. This meant that people were able to get their pictures taken. Another difference was the post-production method. Daguerre used toxic chemicals like mercury to develop his pictures. Getting photographed became increasingly popular; so popular, in fact, that this period is sometimes referred to as “Daguerromania”! 

Above: One of Daguerre’s most famous images

During the early 1940s, scientists came up with many improvements for the Daguerreotype process. Some of the people who came up with such advancements were József Petzval who discovered how to make a lens that was 20 times faster than the one that Daguerre used. This meant that the time needed to take the picture was greatly reduced. Voigtländer improved the design of the camera itself making it much more portable and easy to travel with. Franz Kratochwila released and made publicly available a chemical sensitization process which increased the sensitivity by five times. Such improvements made the camera more accessible and convenient for everyone to use. The photograph above  is one of Daguerre’s most famous photographs taken with his Daguerreotype. It is regarded as one of the first still-life photographs ever taken.

While Joseph Nicéphore Niépc was the first to show that photography was possible, Daguerre was the one to make it popular. The camera has gone through many major improvements over the 192 years it has been in existence. The first photographers couldn’t even carry their cameras let alone snap a picture of a fast-moving object. The next advancements in photography include faster exposure times, pictures that are more easily reproducible, and eventually digital photography.

Part 2

Previously we examined how photography began, but between when it started and the digital photography we have today, it went through countless changes. This section will explain some of the notable advancements of photographic methods. These processes include the Calotype Process, the Wet-Collodion Process, Dry Plates, Autochrome, and Kodachrome. Each unique process uses different chemicals and materials to make many distinct kinds of photographs, and each process brought something new to photography.

In 1841, right as the Daguerreotype was becoming popular, William Henry Fox Talbot discovered a new photographic method. He figured out how to use gallic acid to create light-sensitive paper. After exposing his light-sensitive paper he could rinse the latent image with hyposulphite. The result was an image on paper, slightly fuzzier than Daguerre’s images. He patented this method and called it the “Calotype” meaning “beautiful picture” in Greek.

Although the images were slightly fuzzier than previous methods, this process became very popular for one reason in particular: the images could be easily reproduced. Using previous photographic methods it was only possible to create a one time image, but with Talbot’s Calotype method, it was possible to reproduce infinite copies from one negative. The concept of being able to reproduce an image has become a core concept of photography.

Ten years later, in 1851, Frederick Scott Archer discovered a new process involving not metal or paper, but glass plates. The Wet Collodion method involved preparing a glass plate with Collodion, a solution of nitrocellulose, in a solution of alcohol and ether. After exposing it for a few seconds, it was crucial to develop it immediately afterward. The end product is a glass negative that can produce infinite copies onto paper with very good quality.

Despite having to use a portable darkroom because the plates needed to be prepared immediately before being exposed, and developed immediately afterward, the Wet Collodion method became extremely popular. Its quality was unparalleled at the time, and it was reproducible, which made it the main method for photographers.

The next photographic process put all previous methods to shame: Dry Plates. “In 1871 Richard Leach Maddox, an English physician, suggested suspending silver bromide in a gelatin emulsion, an idea that led, in 1878, to the introduction of factory-produced dry (glass) plates coated with gelatin containing silver salts.”(Rosenblum) These plates were 60 times more sensitive than Wet Plates. This meant that it was possible to take pictures without a tripod. Furthermore, several inexpensive handheld cameras were introduced. Among these was the Kodak camera which traded the glass plates for what we know today as film. Once the one films’ hundred pictures had been taken, the whole camera was sent to a Kodak factory where it was developed and then sent back to the photographer.  Photographers didn’t have to travel with a portable darkroom, which made taking pictures much more convenient. Another benefit of the Dry Plate method is that unlike previous methods it did not require noxious chemicals. As you can imagine, this camera made photography easy for everyone.

As its name suggests Dry Plates can be exposed dry and developed after the exposure. This means that Dry Plates could be mass-produced so photographers did not have to prepare the plates themselves. The Dry Plate method also offered faster exposure times. In the 1880s Eadweard Muybridge, who became famous for his study, did research on the movement of animals and humans, using the Dry Plate method. He set up a series of cameras in a line and attached the shutters to strings so that when the strings were broken the cameras would take a picture. He would release different animals through the line of cameras so that when they walked through they would break each string in quick succession. Scientists learned a lot about how different animals move from these experiments. Another famous photographer who used Dry Plates was Mathew Brady who photographed the American Civil War. The Dry Plate method revolutionized photography by offering a way that amateur photographers could practice photography without having to worry about noxious chemicals or a portable darkroom.


The next major advancement in photography took place 36 years later in France. It may have been the most exciting breakthrough yet: color. Before 1907, many photographers commissioned painters to add color to their pictures. In 1907, two brothers, Auguste and Louis Lumière, finally discovered how to create color photos. They figured out how to filter light through microscopic dyed potato starch to create a color image. First, the Lumière brothers would make the glass plate dye-sensitive by using a silver and gelatin emulsion. This would allow the color to stay on the plate once the photograph was taken. Then they used a filter with millions of microscopic dyed potato starch molecules spread throughout the plate. Each microscopic dot was a color: red, blue, or green. These colored dots would filter the light and create a color image. The exposure time for the autochrome process was slightly longer than previous processes, but as you can imagine, it was an immediate success. One other inevitable downside of color photography was that it was significantly more expensive than black and white.

In 1973, what is probably the world’s most famous kind of film was invented by George Eastman who founded Kodak. At the time it was made available, a roll of Kodachrome film cost about $3.50, which would be approximately $54 in today’s money. Kodachrome was a much more complicated and sophisticated process than Autochrome. The film is made up of many different layers of coatings. Essentially each layer is sensitive to one color. A blue sensitive emulsion is closest to the lens. After the blue sensitive emulsion, there is a yellow filter. Then a blue and green sensitive emulsion comes next, but because of the yellow filter, the blue and green emulsion only picks up green. The last layer is sensitive to red. Basically, the image is formed on three different layers: red, blue, and green. After the image was sent to a developing factory a very complicated process would begin. 

I will not go into detail about the post-production method of Kodachrome because it is much more complicated than previous processes. If you would like to learn about the process visit website. The first step was to use Phenidone hydroquinone, a black and white developer, to develop a monochromatic image on each layer. After this many different steps followed, and eventually each layer had a developed image in one of the primary colors and since they were overlaid, it created a full spectrum of color. 

A National Geographic photographer, Steve McCurry, shot one of the world’s most famous photographs; “Afgan Girl” with Kodachrome. This picture ended up on the June 1985 cover of National Geographic Magazine. This picture has the amazing quality and incredibly vibrant colors, that Kodachrome exhibits.

If you look at how many little changes photography went through from Niépc’s method, to George Eastman’s Kodachrome it’s astonishing. In the span of 147 years, photography changed in many ways including reproducibility of photos, quality of photos, ease of use, convenience, and of course color. Next, we will examine the beginning of a new era, the digital era of photography. I will explain what digital photography is, how it works, how it’s changed, and its advantages and disadvantages.

Part 3

We have talked about many major advancements in photography, but in 1975 what is probably the biggest advancement in photography was invented: digital. It began a new era of photography. Photos no longer had to be developed, now pictures were immediately available after they were taken. Also, pictures could be easily edited without using any chemicals, filters, or other equipment. The current memory cards have significantly more memory than a roll of film and they are also conveniently more portable. It is not necessary to keep buying the film, you get a memory card and then you can use it forever. 

The digital format has revolutionized photography in many ways. As it continues to evolve, photography has achieved even quicker shutter speeds, even better quality, and even more advanced sensors, lenses, and cameras. This section will explain how digital photography works, the mechanics of it, as well as how it has evolved from the first digital camera to the cameras we have today. This section will then explore some of the instances in which digital has been useful for photography and some of the major advantages and disadvantages.

Digital is way more complicated than any of the film processes I have described so far. This is mainly because instead of an image being stored on a light-sensitive material like paper, glass, or metal, digital images are stored in the form of numbers on a memory card. There are many steps that happen between clicking a picture and the picture being stored on the memory card. Science writer and photography expert Chris Woodford explains this process succinctly:

If you’ve ever looked at a television screen close up, you will have noticed that the picture is made up of millions of tiny colored dots or squares called pixels. Laptop LCD computer screens also make up their images using pixels, although they are often much too small to see. In a television or computer screen, electronic equipment switches all these colored pixels on and off very quickly. Light from the screen travels out to your eyes and your brain is fooled into see a large, moving picture.

In a digital camera, exactly the opposite happens. Light from the thing you are photographing zooms into the camera lens. This incoming “picture” hits the image sensor chip, which breaks it up into millions of pixels. The sensor measures the color and brightness of each pixel and stores it as a number. Your digital photograph is effectively an enormously long string of numbers describing the exact details of each pixel it contains. (Woodford)

Before the light hits the sensor, the light enters the lens and passes through two filters inside your camera. For some cameras, you can buy separate external filters. First, it goes through an infrared reduction filter. Infrared light, if not filtered, can sometimes mess up a picture. Next, the light goes through a bare color filter which basically divides the sensor into tiny squares of red, green, and blue. When the light hits the sensor, it is then processed into analog electrical signals. The signals are sent to a digital-analog converter which converts the signals into numeric form: a long string of ones and zeros to be stored on the memory card.

When you edit a digital image to change the lighting, colors, size, or even elements of the image like changing the background, the editing software changes some of the numbers in some way which then manipulates the picture. For instance, imagine that you want to crop the picture. Your editing software might delete some of the numbers that the pictures are made up of to get rid of the unwanted parts of the photo. If you want to change the lighting of the photo (make it lighter or darker) the software might change all of the numbers by a certain amount.

When you look at a digital image close up, you see that it is made up of many little  single-colored squares called pixels. When you look at the whole picture, you usually can’t see the individual squares. When you buy a camera you can see how many megapixels it has. A megapixel is equal to a million pixels. The more megapixels a picture is, the less pixelated it will be. Digital photography has been around for 44 years. In those years the camera has gone from 0.01 megapixels (10,000 pixels) to the 50 megapixels (50,000,000 pixels) range. The newer iPhones even have around 12 megapixels (12,000,000 pixels).

Digital has overwhelmed the photographic community with advantages. But there are a few key disadvantages of digital too. First, you don’t have to put the same amount of work into each picture. This may seem like an advantage, but sometimes putting in a lot of work for one picture instead of being able to take as many as you want can make a picture feel more worthwhile. Also, film has a very unique look, especially if it’s black and white. Some people prefer the look of film to the look of digital. 

Very few people nowadays practice film photography. It has become harder and harder to find film at a reasonable price, and it’s even harder to find a place to develop it. It is almost as if film photography is a different art form from digital photography. While they have some things in common, the process of taking a picture is very different between the two. 

Now in 2019 digital photography has gone through many different changes. There are more kinds of cameras including point and shoot, DSLR, and Mirrorless. In addition, there are many different kinds of sensors, flashes, batteries, lenses and much more. Now almost everyone owns a camera whether it be their phone or a DSLR. This means that almost everyone has the power to document their experiences. With early cameras, a photographer needed a lot of equipment and skill with using chemicals this meant that there were not very many photographers. Now basically everyone is a photographer.


When I look back on the first cameras of 193 years ago, it’s incredible that taking a single picture took so much work. It involved leaving a camera out for around 8 hours to expose the photo and then processing it using dangerous chemicals. Even after it had been developed you would only get a black and white image, the quality of which was nothing like what we have now, and it wasn’t even reproducible. Now we can simply push a button or touch a screen and we will have an amazing colorful image that can be printed infinite times. 

Thinking about what photography once was prompted me to wonder what photography will be like in the future. I enjoy thinking about what photography will be like in 2212, 193 years from now. Will there be holographic imaging technology? Will it be possible to print photos stereoscopically? Will the camera be able to capture scents and sounds? Could the camera be connected to electric pulses in your brain to make you feel the emotions in a picture? Will there be no need for a camera at all? Could you take pictures only using technology attached to your eyes and your brain? Will the people who live in 2212 reflect in awe and pity on the photographers of 2019 and the seemingly limited camera technology available to us? Or will the human species not even exist by then so there is no point in speculating about any sort of technological advancements whatsoever? 


Calotype an early negative-positive photographic process, patented by William Henry Talbot in 1841, in which a paper negative is produced and then used to make a positive contact print in sunlight.

Camera Obscura a darkened boxlike device in which images of external objects, received through an aperture, as with a convex lens, are exhibited in their natural colors on a surface arranged to receive them: used for sketching, exhibition purposes, etc.

Daguerreotype an obsolete photographic process, invented in 1839, in which a picture made on a silver surface sensitized with iodine was developed by exposure to mercury vapor.

Develop to undergo developing, as a photographic film.

Digital representing or operating on data or information in numerical form. A digital clock uses a series of changing digits to represent time at discrete intervals, for example, every second. Modern computers rely on digital processing techniques, in which both data and the instructions for manipulating data are represented as binary numbers.

Dry Plates a glass photographic plate coated with a sensitive emulsion of silver bromide and silver iodide in gelatin.

Film a cellulose nitrate or cellulose acetate composition made in thin sheets or strips and coated with a sensitive emulsion for taking photographs.

Heliograph an early type of photoengraving made on a metal plate coated with sensitized asphalt.

Kodachrome a brand of positive color transparency.

Megapixel a unit equal to one million pixels, used to measure the resolution of a digital image.

Memory Card a very small, portable electronic device for flash-memory data storage, as in a digital camera, cell phone, or digital media player.


Pixel the smallest element of an image that can be individually processed in a video display system.

Silver Salts a light-sensitive chemical compound.

Stereoscopic noting or pertaining to three-dimensional vision or any of various processes and devices for giving the illusion of depth from two-dimensional images or reproductions, as of a photograph or motion picture.

Wet Plates the collodion photographic process



Helmut Gernsheim. “Aa 052 The History Of Photography : Helmut Gernsheim : Free Download, Borrow, and Streaming.” Internet Archive, 1 Jan. 1970,

Andrews, Evan. “8 Crucial Innovations in the Invention of Photography.”, A&E Television Networks, 16 Apr. 2015,


Rosenblum, Naomi, et al. “History of Photography.” Encyclopædia Britannica, Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc.,

“The History of Photography.” Nicephore Niepce House Photo Museum,

Wendt, Karl. “What Is inside a Digital Camera? (1 of 2).” Khan Academy, Khan Academy,

Woodford, Chris. “How Do Digital Cameras Work?” Explain That Stuff, 29 Sept. 2018,

September 4th, 2019|

Student Writing: 1,000 Miles Away

This summer, I worked with a small group of homeschool kids in a weekly writing class. We explored fiction writing including story elements and the hero’s journey. The goal was to develop a protagonist and antagonist, outline a story line including setting, characters, plot, and problem and resolution. The students then learned about the “hero’s journey”, a narrative that dominates most fiction, and structured their tale around that format. Each student chose one part of their story to stretch out using sensory details to make it more interesting. The writers were of all different abilities and had varying experience with fiction writing. Each student was immensely proud of his story! The following is written by Jacob.

1,000 Miles Away

by Jacob

Chapter 1

A Big Happy Family

Hi, I’m King the dog. I live on the shore of Florida state. I love it here. I have everything I could ever ask for: food, family, clean water. But, one day, this all changed. I remember the day. I was in the play room with baby Lucy. We were playing with building blocks, until I started to hear a ringing. I thought nothing of it at first but then dad and mom started panicking when they saw their phones. In an instant they grabbed Lucy and ran out the door. I was quite confused so I followed them to make sure everything was ok. By the time we were done running, we had made it in the car and we were in a lot of traffic. I mean if mom and dad weren’t so worried this would be chasing heaven! Then after a few minutes we made it up to a man at a stand, but he didn’t let us go. Next thing I knew, they kicked me out of the car. I thought maybe they wanted me to take a piddle or maybe go for a walk. But no, they just drove off. Then the man that told me to leave shooed me away, and there I was. Alone, scared, and completely clueless.

Chapter 2

It Happened In A Flash

I sat there, completely dumbfounded at what just happened. Then I heard a man’s voice. It sounded something like “Evacuate! Hurricane warning!” I never understood human very good but when I heard “warning!” I knew something was wrong. I wanted to know where my family was going, or when I was going to see them again. So, I decided to ask some people running in the streets. No matter how much I barked, they all ran in fear. I didn’t know what to do at this point. So I went home and hid in my special place where only me and baby Lucy could fit. Then it hit me… Would I ever see baby Lucy again? I sat there and whimpered, waiting for dad or mom to come try to offer me food, but nobody came. It was suddenly so silent. Too silent. Then, CRASH! A massive boom filled the entire house. I heard water roaring outside, the sound of bricks threatening to snap, the door creaking and bulging with water pressure. I looked out the front window and watched as our neighbors houses got destroyed like plastic. It smelled of salt and seaweed. I felt as the bottom boards of my hiding place wettened and became softer. I felt water drops falling from the ceiling. I was terrified for my life. Suddenly, the walls started to cave in. Then the back door burst open. In a flash, water filled the whole house. Then I sat in my special spot, waiting for this living hell to be over. Then I laid down on my back, waiting for the inevitable, but then I found myself drifting off to sleep from the pure trauma, the adrenaline starting to wear off. And I closed my eyes. And waited…

Chapter 3

It Takes Courage

Suddenly, I’m in the living room again with baby Lucy. But this time, there are no sirens, no noise. Just pure happiness. I am truly at peace. Then a noise woke me up. It was a group of men calling out something. It sounded like, “Is anybody there! We’re here to save you!” I knew I needed to go check it out. Maybe they could help me find my family. Maybe that dream I had could be true. I couldn’t jump down from my special place because the whole house was still flooded. So I did what a dog does best; I barked my heart out. I knew this maybe was my only chance to see my family again. But they just passed by. Even due to my efforts, I was left there. But one thing was for certain; I was not giving up here. So I jumped into the water and swam. At this point the current was gone, so it was easy to stay above water. But there was one problem: I can’t swim. But then I thought of my dream and the possibility that it could be true one day. Then, to my brain’s dismay my legs started paddling. And then I started moving forward! When I got outside the water was low enough so I could stand. Then the water started to fall. Now that the currents were gone the water flow was weak and small. So after only a couple minutes all the water was gone. And I was left with a really REALLY moist town.

Chapter 4

Get Up Small Fry

I realized I couldn’t hide away until my family came back because I was getting very hungry. So I decided to go to the shop with some amazing beef jerky that Mom and Dad use to take me to. I thought maybe I could go there. I walked over there and sure enough it was destroyed just like my house, but I could still get in through a hole in the rubble. I took a few of those beef jerky sticks and on my way out of the rubble I opened the packaging on a sharp piece on the wall. I then decided to take a break and sit down in the alleyway next to the store. After I was done resting I went to go find my family. I didn’t know how long it was going to take, or even if I would make it, but I knew I couldn’t give up. Not now, not yet. 


I had been walking forever. I started to get dizzy, and I was extremely thirsty. But I didn’t stop. I knew I couldn’t, so I kept going… and going, and going. Then. Black. 

I woke up in an alleyway with a plastic cup of water in front of me. Before I could even process what was happening I instantly went for the water. It was so sweet. It felt like the best water I had ever tasted. Then a shadow cast over me. I turned around to find a massive german shepherd staring me down. “You’re finally awake,” said the massive dog.

“Uh, hi, uh, I’ll be leaving now, don’t you mind me,” I said.

“No you don’t. You don’t get it.” Out of plain fear I fell over. “Get up. I was the dog who brought you here.” I realized that it was quite strange that last I knew, I was walking into the city. But now I was just there. I slowly started to get up until I fell right back down after I saw two other massive dogs coming up behind the german shepherd. It was a massive, and very scary-looking, pitbull boxer. He had multiple scars, and his glare alone scared the living daylights out of me. The second dog was an extremely fluffy newfoundland. Though he didn’t have big muscles like the pitbull, he was big and overwhelming. And I found myself cowering at his massive size. 

“He giving you any trouble?” the pitbull said. 

“No, no. I just got here, I mean I didn’t do anything. Trust me, I’m innocent. Please don’t hurt me,” I replied quickly. 

“He’s fine. I found him out on the borders of the city. He was extremely dehydrated so I got him some water,” said the german shepherd in my defense. 

“Oh my dog! You know how hard it is to get water around here! And you just had to waste it on this small fry,” said the pitbull. 

“Yeah, what he said! Since when did you become such a softy, boss?” said the newfoundland. 

“I am not a softy, and you will end your blabbering now! You hear me? THAT’S AN ORDER,” said the german shepherd. The pitbull and the newfoundland both quickly shook their heads “yes” in agreement. The german shepherd sighed. “Hey you, kid. Come take a walk with me,” the german shepherd said. I was still so scared, I couldn’t get up until I heard a boom. “WELL WHAT YOU WAITING FOR? C’MON!” In a hurry, I got up and ran to catch up to the german shepherd. I didn’t know what was gonna happen next, but I knew I didn’t want to be on these dogs’ bad side.

To be continued…

July 25th, 2019|

Student Writing: Doggon

This summer, I worked with a small group of homeschool kids in a weekly writing class. We explored fiction writing including story elements and the hero’s journey. The goal was to develop a protagonist and antagonist, outline a story line including setting, characters, plot, and problem and resolution. The students then learned about the “hero’s journey”, a narrative that dominates most fiction, and structured their tale around that format. Each student chose one part of their story to stretch out using sensory details to make it more interesting. The writers were of all different abilities and had varying experience with fiction writing. Each student was immensely proud of his story! The following is written by Lucas.


by Lucas

Doggon is a happy dog.  He has normal dog hobbies like chasing squirrels and eating treats.  You know, normal dog stuff. Overall, Doggon is a good boy, which is a good thing because his biggest fear is being called a “bad boy”.  But then he heard on the news that someone named Kat was turning everyone into kittens. Why would Kat do this?? Because she wanted to be the Supreme Ruler of the World.

As soon as Doggon heard this horrific news he tried to ignore it, but then when his owner Joe came home he said Doggon could do it. Doggon refused but then he thought that if he didn’t it might mean no more Joe! So then he ran through his doggy door filled with courage and began looking for this Kat hideout.  After hours of seeing what felt like the same exact buildings and the same exact pavement, his paws were hurting more than ever. He was tired. He held the urge to raid a corner store. Then he finally found some useful information. Also, some delicious dog food but that’s for another story! Kat lived on Nowhere Street in the basement of her grandmother’s house.  Interestingly, this was only one street over from Doggon’s house.

Doggon saw SO much smoke and gas. Then he attempted to go into Kat’s hideout head first, hoping that charging in would be enough of a surprise to work.  Sadly, within the first few seconds, Doggon was kicked out by the guards Kat had stationed around her headquarters.

But Doggon was not a goner yet! He was thinking for hours that night and came up with a plan. First, he would sneak in past the guards by going in through a backyard window which, surprisingly, was open.  Then he found the key to Kat’s hideout in the basement and burst through the door.

Now he stood face to face with Kat’s cat and fought as hard as he could and not surprisingly, lost.

But he was not done yet. He trained for days and finally brought up the hope to try again.

He snuck in once again and fought and fought as hard as he could. Somehow the training paid off. So Doggon headed home about 20 minutes later. Joe came home. Doggon was a hero!

3 Years later

Doggon was so popular, he had fans across the globe in New York, Tokyo, and Seattle. It was amazing! But there were some downsides. About two and a bit years ago Doggon defeated Kat. She was pretty tough, but he handled it. But after everything changed, Kat’s grandma just so happened to see Doggon just beat her granddaughter so she got pretty mad. She called Kat’s dad and he just so happens to be guardian of space so Doggon had to beat him now, which was not easy. Somehow Doggon found Kat’s father’s wife and she was mean too so now it was two gods vs one dog. Things weren’t in Doggon’s favor but somehow he remembered that for his 5th birthday, Joe had given him a laser pointer. I think you know what’s next. He used it and made them fly into the sun.       



Or is it??

July 25th, 2019|

Student Writing: Activism Through Photography



Activism in Photography


Photojournalism has been used throughout history to spread the news, but I want to shed new light on what it has to offer. A photojournalist isn’t just a photographer, a photojournalist is also an activist. In my opinion, photojournalism is in fact, one of the most important forms of activism there is. Photos have the power to change people’s minds and wake people up to things they aren’t aware of or are ignoring. They can make people feel a certain way, or just care a whole lot more depending on what they are used for. Photography is a really important tool. What is a photojournalist? According to the dictionary a photojournalist “a journalist who communicates news with photographs.” In my opinion, anyone can be a photojournalist if they want to.

Photography in History

Photography has no doubt played a major role in history. We have seen how photographs have the power to influence people like no other kind media. In addition, with photographs, people are able to see places that they have never seen whereas sometimes it’s hard to picture a place you’ve never been from just words. Photographers who were brave enough to document hard truths have woken people up. Photographs have so much power. In the past photojournalists and just regular people have made history by pressing a button. From exposing the injustices that the civil rights movement was trying to change to showing people the horrible things that were going on during the Vietnam war, pictures have been used to affect change. Many people read magazines like LIFE. In fact, at one point it was selling “13.5 million copies a week”(The New York Times “Race, Civil Rights and Photography” New York Times). This means that millions of people were seeing these photos. Charles Moore, a photojournalist who covered the civil rights movement once said; “my camera is my tool, and I would rather have that be my weapon than my fists any day.” I think that this quote sums up what photojournalism means. I agree with Charles Moore because I believe that a picture can change peoples minds and wake them up to the truth more than anything else.

Photography Today

I believe that the most important invention in the history of photojournalism is the digital camera. Now, you might be thinking “of course,” or “that’s so obvious!” but I have some reasons that you might not have thought of. I believe that the digital camera represents a turning point in the history of photography.

One reason that digital cameras are so important to photojournalism is that you can take many more pictures in a much shorter time. This allows photographers to shoot more shots, which makes the chances of getting a great shot much higher. Also, shots on digital cameras don’t take time to develop which means that photographs can get published for the public to see much quicker than photos taken on film. My last reason why digital cameras are important to photojournalism is that, while cameras are becoming capable of higher quality images, people are able to relate to them more. When I look at an image taken by a digital camera next to an image taken by a film camera, I am more connected to the image taken by the digital camera. This is because higher quality images seem more real, and therefore are easier to connect to. I think that many people experience this phenomenon.

Now with more advanced cameras photographers are able to capture scenes with better and better quality. I believe that photojournalism contributes so much to how we receive information. As our technology is becoming more and more advanced photography is becoming an increasingly helpful tool.

The role of photography today is a little different than the role of photojournalism in the past. One main difference is that anyone can be a photojournalist. Now that so many people have a camera whether it be a smartphone or a higher quality camera, anyone can document what’s going on in the world right now. Also, with social media campaigns like Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, and Youtube seeing literally billions of users worldwide. Your picture could spread around the web in mere hours, educating hundreds of thousands of people. Anyone who wants to change the world can start with photography.

Maybe because photojournalism is so powerful, we’re seeing people want to restrict the freedom of the press. I think that if the press didn’t have as much freedom as it has now, we would run into a lot of problems. To understand the importance of the freedom of the press, you have to understand the role of the press in society today. We rely on the press to give us the news, and to tell us everything that’s going on. If the press didn’t have the right to cover everything, it would defeat the whole point of having it in the first place. Also, restricting the freedom of the press would create a lot of loopholes for people in power to take advantage of. For instance, it might become easier for people in power to cover up and hide what is going on by restricting press coverage. Allowing freedom of the press is one of the best things about our society. It is important that people know what is happening in the world so they can make decisions based on their knowledge. Also, a lot of people will get angry if the freedom of the press is restricted. Humans inherently like to be informed, and the press plays a big role in that.

So I guess what can be taken away by this is that pictures have tremendous power and I urge you to use them if you have the opportunity to affect positive change. Today photojournalists are covering an extremely wide variety of stories.

Paul Schutzer

Many U.S. citizens opposed America’s involvement in the Vietnam War. There were huge protests that took place in the U.S. to try to get the government to withdraw U.S. troops from the war. I believe that photographers like Paul Schutzer had a huge influence on U.S. citizens who weren’t aware of what was going on in Vietnam, and even if people did know what was happening, these pictures provided another level of understanding.

Paul Schutzer was born on July 11, 1930, in Brooklyn, New York. Although he died very young at the age of only 36, he helped many people through his photojournalism. When Paul Schutzer was ten years old he found his first camera. He found it in a wastebasket, taped it up, and started taking pictures. After trying other occupations, Paul Schutzer realized that what he wanted to do was be a photojournalist. So, in 1957, Paul Schutzer became the youngest LIFE Magazine photographer. Over the decade during which he took pictures for LIFE magazine, he took covered all different different issues around the world including; “The Berlin Wall, the earthquake in Iran, the Algerian War, Nixon in South America, Kennedy through his campaign onto his funeral, Cuba and Castro, Lebanon, and Vietnam” (“Paul Schutzer | Biography” klotz gallery). Over the course of his career with LIFE magazine, Paul Schutzer photographed for 491 articles. “Schutzer’s daughter Dena explains, ‘He focused on the people in power and the powerless, the people who were responsible for the events and those who were affected by them’” (Alice Gabriner, “The Six-Day War and the LIFE Photographer Killed in Action” Time).

US Corps-man runs with a wounded Vietnamese baby after the child’s mother found herself and her child in a combat zone. -Paul Schutzer

A young US. soldier guards Vietnamese captives. This soldier later died in the war. -Paul Schutzer

Therese Frare

The AIDS crisis was being widely ignored despite it becoming an increasingly big problem for the U.S. and especially the LGBTQ community. Maybe the reason that AIDS wasn’t being talked about or addressed was that it wasn’t affecting the people in power as much as LGBTQ people. When photographers like Therese Frare started documenting people dying of AIDS many people found it much harder to ignore. This image by Therese Frare became famous and probably saved many lives because after

people started to care that elected officials were addressing the issue. To give you some the perspective, in the United States alone “an estimated 692,790 Americans have died of HIV-related illnesses since the start of the epidemic in 1982” (Mark Cichocki  “How Many People Have Died of HIV/AIDS?” Very Well Health). This estimate was made by the World Health Organization, and these numbers are as of 2018.

Unlike Paul Schutzer and Charles Moore, Therese Frare wasn’t a professional photographer when she took the picture that made her famous and, more importantly, showed people up to how serious AIDS was. Therese Frare was a grad student at Ohio University and a passionate AIDS activist. She decided to cover AIDS for a school photography project, but she found out that most people living with AIDS were unwilling to be photographed. She ended up finding a new gender fluid, Native American, HIV positive, friend. Peta was living at the Pater Noster House, a hospice for people living with HIV and AIDS. Peta was great friends with another patient at the Pater Noster House: David Kirby. David Curby was a gay activist who had been estranged from his family. When Therese Frare met David Curby he told her that it was fine for her to take pictures of him, as long as they weren’t used for profit. Therese Frare and David Curby became friendly with one another through Therese Frare’s visits to the Pater Noster House. On the day that David Curby died, Therese was visiting Peta. David Curby had called his family earlier and they had welcomed him back into the family. His family was visiting him for the very last time when she was asked by David Curby’s family to take photos of David Curby’s last moments. Therese Frare used this photo to show how serious and sad AIDS is

The famous image of David Kirby who had AIDS in 1990 -Therese Frare

Charles Moore

The civil rights movement was fighting for equal rights for people of color during the 1950s and 1960s. In my opinion, was greatly helped by photographers like Charles Moore. These photographers weren’t afraid to show the kind of injustice that was occurring in the US. People who were not aware of how badly people of color were being treated were being woken up by photojournalists like Charles Moore.

Charles Moore Lived from 1931 to 2010, and during his life, he took pictures that have affected tons of positive change. A writer for the New York Times once said; “Mr. Moore was probably the most influential of a battalion of still photographers who swept across the South to capture, with compelling clarity, the dramatic collision of massive and passive resistance, black and white, right and wrong” (Hank Klibanoff “What the Still Photo Still Does Best.” The New York Times). He grew up in Alabama. His father was a Baptist minister who talked about racism a fair amount. So Charles Moore grew up caring a fair amount about racism. After spending some time photographing for Montgomery newspapers in Alabama he started photographing for LIFE magazine.

Over the course of his career, he achieved many accomplishments including writing his book, “Powerful Days: The Civil Rights Photography of Charles Moore”, winning the Kodak Crystal Eagle Award from the National Press Photographers Association, and of course, taking some of the most amazing pictures of all time to fight for the rights of people of color. He wasn’t afraid to get close up to the action and he documented many hard truths. His photography revealed the glaring injustices that people of color were facing, and what was going on to stop them. He revealed how the police were responding to the civil rights movement. Over the course of his life, Charles Moore revealed a lot of these injustices and got people to care about what was going on. At one point Charles Moore said, “I don’t wanna fight with my fists, I wanna fight with my camera.” And that is exactly what he did. I believe that Charles Moore’s photos played a major role in ending a lot of the prejudice and racism in America.

The fire department uses fire hoses against civil rights protesters.-Charles Moore

Policemen turn dogs on civil rights protesters -Charles Moore


For anyone who cares about an issue and sees the consequences of it in their life, photojournalism is one of the most effective ways to create change. Almost everyone has seen an image that impacts them emotionally in some way, and makes them care about a certain person, thing, or idea. But when you imagine the kind of person who might take a photo like this, you might think of a professional behind a huge fancy camera. But that is not necessarily how meaningful photos are created, as you have learned in the case of Therese Frare. You could be that photographer. Anyone who has a way to take a picture whether it be a smart phone camera, cheap point and shoot, or DSLR, has the capacity to affect change through photography. Now with social media platforms seeing billions of users, images you post can be more widely viewed in an even shorter amount of time. You don’t have to get your photograph published through a magazine or official publication. In order for someone to see your photography in a publication, typically they need to have a subscription whereas social media is usually free and therefore gives you access to more people from all different backgrounds. Posting your pictures on social media can affect more people. If you care about an issue, but don’t know how to start working to fix it, photojournalism might be an amazing way for you to create change.

Works Cited

Mark Speltz. “Black Lives Matter: What Role Do Photographs Play?” Time, Time,

“Charles Moore.” International Center of Photography, 27 Apr. 2019,

Cichocki, Mark. “How Many People Have Died of HIV/AIDS?” Verywell Health, Verywellhealth, 26 Feb. 2019,

“David Kirby (Activist).” Wikipedia, Wikimedia Foundation, 16 Oct. 2018,

Dunlap, David W. “Charles Moore Dies; Depicted Rights Battles.” The New York Times, The New York Times, 15 Mar. 2010,

Durham, Michael S., and Charles Moore. Powerful Days: The Civil Rights Photography of Charles Moore. University Alabama Press, 2007.

Editors, “Civil Rights Movement.”, A&E Television Networks, 27 Oct. 2009,

Gabriner, Alice. “The Six-Day War and the LIFE Photographer Killed in Action.” Time, Time,

“History of HIV and AIDS Overview.” AVERT, 26 Nov. 2018,

Kaplan, and John. “The Life Magazine Civil Rights Photography of Charles Moore 1958-1965.” Journalism History, Journalism History, 1 Jan. 2000,

Klibanoff, Hank. “What the Still Photo Still Does Best.” The New York Times, The New York Times, 20 Mar. 2010,

“Legendary Civil Rights Photographer Charles Moore, 79.” NPPA, 4 Oct. 2012,

O’Neill, Claire. “Charles Moore, Photographer Of The Civil Rights Movement, Dies At 79.” NPR, NPR, 16 Mar. 2010,

“Paul Schutzer | Biography.” KLOTZGALLERY.COM,

Ben Cosgrove. “Paul Schutzer: A Great Photographer’s Final Pictures.” Time, Time,

Reeves, Jay. “Charles Moore, Photographer Who Covered Civil Rights Movement, Dies.”, Deseret News, 16 Mar. 2010,

The New York Times. “Race, Civil Rights and Photography.” The New York Times, The New York Times, 18 Jan. 2016,

“The Vietnam War: The Pictures That Moved That Most.” Time, Time,

“Therese Frare: Gone Too Soon | About the Hero.” Lowell Milken Center, 13 July 2018,

May 28th, 2019|

Student Writing: Nellie Bly

The World of Nellie Bly

The 1800’s were a time of invention and creativity. In the next 150 years America would have hundreds of breakthroughs in computer science, railroad technology, factories, space and air transportation, farming and goods production technology. Fashion was an interest to people in the 1800’s as a way of expressing style and wealth. Food and goods production were becoming more of an interest to the world. In the following century,  people would be sent into space for the first time and two world wars would be stirring up chaos and destruction to the whole world. The world in the 1800’s was about to start on the road to new advancements in technology, new discoveries and and new ideas of class and social structure that would lead to where we are today.

Lancaster, Pennsylvania was still the capital of its state (the capital would soon be Harrisburg). The population in Lancaster shot up from 4,200 to 17,000 in just 60 years.

The Industrial Revolution had a large impact on Pennsylvania. Railroads and steam mills were up and working by 1834. In 1852 Pennsylvania saw the construction of both the Fulton Hall Theater or the Fulton Opera House and North Prince Street. Telephone service was introduced to Pennsylvania in 1886. People’s fashion tastes changed as well, becoming more sophisticated and simpler. Their clothes changed from extremely elaborate and intricate to simple and plain. Children had to wear simple clothes they could run and play in. Girls wore blouses and simple dresses and boys wore trousers and boots. Men wore simple, workable clothes designed for working outdoors or sitting in an office for long periods of time. Woman wore tight dresses with lots of ruffles and bows when they went out in public. Corsets and blouses were also garments women were expected to wear to town. In their homes woman wore looser gowns and aprons.   

Woman in the 1800’s were expected to be housewives. They were expected to cook and clean their houses while their husbands went and earned a living working at farms or offices. Most women did not have jobs and if they did they could be paid less than $3 dollars a week. In this time women had to do as they were told. Most women agreed to this as this was how they were raised. Most women cooked and cleaned for their families and stayed home as housewives. And then there was Nellie Bly.         

The Beginning  

Nellie Bly was born as Elizabeth Cochran on May 5, 1864 in Cochran’s Mill, Pennsylvania. The town was founded by her father, Michael Chrochan, who was a judge and a landowner. Nellie grew up with 14 siblings, eight of whom were her half siblings. When Nellie was six her father died unexpectedly. Because her father did not have the time to write a will before he died, the money he owned could not go to his widowed wife, Mary Jane Cochran, or his 14 children. And so Nellie and her family were left to fend for themselves in the town her own father had founded. A few years later, the family scrounge up enough money to move to Indiana and send Nellie off to attend the Indiana Normal School. Nellie studied hard at her new college to become a teacher. But the family was running out of money and they needed her to come home and help. So Nellie dropped out of college and moved to Pittsburgh with her mother where they ran a small inn for for some time.Then, in the early 1880’s, when Nellie was just 18, she submitted a response to a report in the Pittsburgh Dispatch. The report had been written by a man by the name of Erasmus Wilson who, in his report, stated that women who worked outside their homes were ‘a monstrosity’ and that women should not be allowed to work and earn a living on their own. Nellie had always had a talent with words and it took her just a day to write a strong, sensible response. She told Mr. Wilson that he was wrong and that woman were just as capable as men were. She signed her report using the pen name ‘Lonely Orphan Girl.’  Her earnestness response caught the attention of the chief editor of the Pittsburgh Dispatch, George Madden, who offered her a position immediately. Nellie accepted the job offer.

Not Your Usual Woman

“Could I last a week in the insane asylum?

I said I could. And I did.” -Nellie Bly

Nellie wanted to become a journalist to educate people and move people to change. She was afraid she could not excel in this career because she was a woman yet she was determined to fulfill this ambition and she started with the things she was most passionate about. Nellie was working as a journalist and undercover investigator for a newspaper. She went undercover as a sweatshop worker to reveal poor working conditions faced by women. In her reports she drew attention to the importance of women’s rights, something most journalists avoided in their writing. She earned $5 a week and was still living with her mother in Pittsburg. Elizabeth Cochran was going by the pen name Nellie Bly after a song. Nellie Bly was gaining fame and money for herself and her family. But then the newspaper she worked for moved her to the ‘woman’s page.’ Enraged by this setback, Nellie began researching a better paper that would treat her more fairly and pay her a larger salary. In 1887 Nellie moved to New York where she started to work for the New York World Newspaper. One of Nellie’s most famous investigative cases happened in this time. Her paper decided to give her an undercover assignment. Nellie was to go undercover as a mental patient at a mental institution. She lived as a mental patient there for 10 days and when she released herself wrote a book and a report on the terrible living conditions for patients in the asylum. The result of Nellie’s hard work was a major investigation of the asylum and several changes to the New York Department of Public Charities and Corrections. These included more funding for mentally ill patients, exams, and staff training at mental facilities. Nellie had become an investigative journalist. She had educated hundreds of people on hard working conditions, she had revealed the horrible conditions the patients of the asylum were living in, and she had written about women’s rights; something nobody did. And now she was going to be the first to sail around the world in under 100 days.

Nellie Bly’s Trip Around the World

“I was too impatient to work at the usual duties assigned to woman on newspapers.”

-Nellie Bly

Nellie did several more undercover and investigative reports which included; treatment of people in jails/factories, corruptions in the legislate, and several reports on famous people including Susan B. Anthony and Emma Goldman. In early 1889 Nellie was inspired by a famous book she read when she was little (Around the World in 80 Days by Jules Verne) and decided to set off on an 80 day journey around the world. She wanted it to be challenging so she made it a competition. Another newspaper would have a man set sail on the same day, going on a different route and whoever got back to New York first was the winner. Nellie set sail in November 1889. She traveled all over the world; first by boat, then by horse, then by rickshaw, and finally by car. Nellie completed her journey in 72 days, 6 hours, 11 minutes, and 14 seconds, breaking records and winning the competition. When Nellie arrived home, a crowd of people awaited her, cheering her on until she stepped off the ship and returned home after 72 days away. Nellie Bly married the billionaire Robert Seaman. They moved back to Nellie’s home town together. Nellie’s husband died just a few years later. She took over his manufacturing company later that year. She supported fitness gyms and libraries and new inventions as the times progressed. Nellie kept working on her papers and books throughout the last years of her life. Nellie Bly died on January 27, 1922 from pneumonia. She was 57. Nellie’s legacy still thrives today. She is an inspiration to all who hear of her. At age 18 she became one of the first woman authors in newspapers and went on to become one of the most well known and most accomplished women in the world. She went from an innkeeper in Pittsburg to a investigative journalist who sailed around the world. She went from the Lonely Orphan Girl to the legend of Nellie Bly. Nellie Bly wrote her own story, one to remember and learn from.

“I have never written a word

that did not come from my heart.”  

-Nellie Bly    


Appendix I.

Her Family

Nellie Bly had four brothers, two sisters, and eight other half siblings from both of her parents’ former marriages. She grew up in a household with 14 other children and her father and mother. Nellie’s father was a wealthy landowner in Pennsylvania. He founded the town Nellie and her siblings grew up in, Cochran’s Mills, Pennsylvania. He married twice, first to a woman who died after having six children, and then to Nellie’s mother, Mary Jane Cochran (maiden name Mary Jane Kennedy). She had four children with her second husband, including Nellie Bly. Mary Jane died of old age in 1921. Mildred Cochran Mclaughlin was Nellie’s oldest sibling, she was born June 5, 1851 in Cochran’s Mills Pennsylvania. She went on to marry a man by the last name of Mclaughlin and had several children. William Worth Cochran was born April 11, 1848 in the Mills. His mother, Catherine Murphy, died when he was younger and his father’s second wife, Nellie’s mother, took him in. Harry Cummings Cochran was born March 15, 1870 in Pennsylvania. He was one of Nellie’s four full brothers and named after a distant relative. Albert Paul Cochran was born on Halloween in Pennsylvania. He went on to marry and have several children of his own. Robert Scot Cochran was Nellie’s half sibling. Angela K. Cochran, John Michael Cochran, Julianna McGrahm, and Mary Ann Sanchez were all Nellie’s half siblings as well. Thomas Jefferson Cochran and George Washington Cochran were named after former presidents of the United States and Isabella Davis was the youngest sibling of the 14. Nellie had her hands full.


Appendix II.

My Thoughts on her Writing

Nellie had an amazing writing voice; it was powerful, strong and to the point. She had a large vocabulary and used big words to emphasise her ideas, yet kept things short when they were not as important. Nellie was a very funny person.She was kind and tried to help people whenever she could and I think people liked her because of it. At one point in her book Around the World in Seventy Two Days, Nellie is late for a boat and the man bringing her to the port asks her if she can run. She says “yes”, and together they run all the way through the town to the boat. Nellie says they laughed the whole way and the man thanked her afterwards for giving him such a wonderful time. I think Nellie tried to make a statement with her writing. She didn’t want it to be about her, she wanted it to be about the writing and the point she was trying to make. Nellie was strong-willed and did not like to be told what to do or how to do things. She was eager to learn and teach and she was not to be deterred from her dreams. Nellie didn’t care what people thought of her and in that way she was very different from most women of her time. It is clear that a lot of the people she spent her time with had some sexist ideas. At one point in one of her books a man was writing up her passport when he asked everyone else in the room to leave. He made Nellie swear to tell the truth before asking her how old she was and how much she weighed. Nellie laughed at the man and told him willingly her age and weight, not caring who knew. Over and over again in her books, Nellie displays unique skills and a strong mind. She wanted to educate people about the hardships for not only women of the time, but also the average citizen. She wanted to help and she was prepared to do anything to achieve her dreams.  

Appendix III.

Excerpts From Her Book

“Gather up all the real smart girls, pull them out of the mire, give them a shove up the ladder of life, and be amply repaid both by their success and unforgetfulness of those that held out the helping hand.” Nellie Bly said this in a report in early 1885. She was 18. This report got her a job at her first newspaper, a boost of confidence, and the greatest shove up the ladder of life anyone could get. Nellie signed this report as the “Lonely Orphan Girl”. A lot of people have looked at this name and thought about why she would call herself this. She was not an orphan; her mother was still well. She was not lonely; she had more than enough siblings. But at the same time she was an orphan. She was alone. Most of her siblings had moved out, gone along to find their own shoves up the ladder. Nellie had been left to fend for herself and her elderly mother. I think Nellie felt like she was alone. She was a girl in a steadily progressing world where if she didn’t become something more than an innkeeper and a daughter she would be forgotten and pushed aside in the race to get to the top. Here is the beginning of her first report:

What shall we do with our girls?

Not our Madame Neilisons; nor our Mary Anderson’s; not our Bessie Brambles nor our Maggie Mitchells; not our beaty or our heiress; not any of these, but those without talent, without beaty, without money. What shall we do with them? The anxious father still wants to know what to do with his five daughters. Well indeed may he wonder. Girls, since the existence of Eve, have been a worriement, to themselves as well as to their parents, as to what shall be done with them. They cannot, or will not, as in the case may be, all marry. Few, very few, posses the mighty pen of the late Jane Grey Swisshelm, and even writers, lecturers, doctors, preachers, and edits must have money  as well as ability to fit them to be such. What is to be done with the poor ones? The schools are overrun with teachers, the stores with clerks, the factories with employees. There are more cooks, chamber maids, and washerwoman than can find employment. In fact all places that are filled with women are overrun, and still there are idle girls, some with elderly parents depending on them. We cannot let them starve. They can that have full and plenty of this world’s goods, realize what it is to be a poor working woman, abiding in one or two bare rooms, without fire enough to keep warm, while her threadbare clothes refuse to protect her from the wind and cold, and denying herself necessary food that her little ones may not go hungry; fearing the landlords frown and threat to cast her out and sell what little she has, begging for employment of any kind that may earn enough to pay for the bare rooms she calls home, no one to speak kindly to encourage her, nothing to make life worth the living? If sin in the form of man comes forward with a wily smile and says ‘fear no more, your debts shall be repaid,’ she can not let her children freeze or starve, and so falls. Well, who shall blame her. Will it be you that have a comfortable home and a loving husband, sturdy, healthy children, fond friends – shall you cast the first stone? It must be so; assuredly it would not be cast by one similar situated. Not only the widow, but the poor maiden needs employment. Perhaps father is dead and mother is helpless, or just the reverse; or maybe both are dependant on her extensions, or an orphan entirely, as the case maybe.     

In this small page of words we see that Nellie was not going to sit and watch people mistreat girls that had nothing. Nellie paints a picture of what it was like for girls like her to live at the time. She makes a point to call out the wealthy’s flaws and clearly states that girls are just as worthy of she push up the ladder as anyone. Nellie would not stand by and watch as girls like her starved and ran out of money. She was going to make a difference no matter what. And she gave herself the first push up the ladder to doing that with this paper.

Nellie continued to write amazing reports and papers over her lifetime. When she went around the world in under 80 days she kept journals and notebooks and filled them with stories. When she returned, she pieced them together into a book of adventures. Here’s one of her stories:


WHAT gave me the idea?

It is sometimes difficult to tell exactly what gives birth to an idea. Ideas are the chief stock in trade of newspaper writers and generally they are the scarcest stock in market, but they do come occasionally,

This idea came to me one Sunday. I had spent a greater part of the day and half the night vainly trying to fasten on some idea for a newspaper article. It was my custom to think up ideas on Sunday and lay them before my editor for his approval or disapproval on Monday. But ideas did not come that day and three o’clock in the morning found me weary and with an aching head tossing about in my bed. At last tired and provoked at my slowness in finding a subject, something for the week’s work, I thought fretfully:

“I wish I was at the other end of the earth!”

“And why not?” the thought came: “I need a vacation; why not take a trip around the world?”

It is easy to see how one thought followed another. The idea of a trip around the world pleased me and I added: “If I could do it as quickly as Phileas Fogg did, I should go.”

Then I wondered if it were possible to do the trip eighty days and afterwards I went easily off to sleep with the determination to know before I saw my bed again if Phileas Fogg’s record could be broken.

Nellie Bly was one of the most influential people of her time. She was a smart, personable woman who knew who she wanted to be and how to change the world. Her writings are still important today.


Bly, Nellie. Around the World in 72 Days. Pictorial Weeklies, 1890.

Bly, Nellie. Corrigan, Maureen. Lutes, Jean. Around the World in 72 Days and Other Writings. Penguin Classics, 2014.   

Bradner, Leisly. “Nellie Bly: Crusading Troublemaker.” History Net, February 2018,  

Fessenden, Marissa. “Nellie Bly’s Record Breaking Trip Around the World Was, to her Surprise, a Race.” Smart News, January 25, 2016,  

“Nellie Bly Biography.”, January 21, 2019,

“Nellie Bly.” Encyclopedia Britannica, January 23, 2019,  

Norwood, Arlisha. “Nellie Bly.”  National Women’s History Museum, 2017,                   

“Pioneer Settlement in Indiana.” The History Museum,     

Wills, Mathew. “Nellie Bly, Girl Reporter.” Daily, November 14, 2014,

May 21st, 2019|

Student Writing: Are Meat Eaters Causing The World’s Problems?



Are Meat Eaters Causing The World’s Problems?

Have you ever thought about being a vegetarian? People become vegetarian for all sorts of reasons including ethics, environmental, economic, religious, health, and just liking the vegetarian cuisine. People look for easy, obvious fixes to major global issues in a time of struggle such as this. Many people either overlook or are unaware of the effect that becoming vegetarian could have on many worldwide issues.

Eating meat seems like a personal choice. But in fact, the dietary choices each individual makes have an effect on the global community. Did you know that “70% of the grain produced in the US is used to feed livestock” (Top 10 Reasons for Going Veggie)? If that grain was fed straight to humans we could feed an additional “4 billion people” (Top 10 Reasons for Going Veggie). Or alternatively, we could export the grain to other countries and increase the trade balance by a staggering “80 million dollars a year” which could be used to benefit any number of issues in the US (Why Go Veg?).

The environmental argument for becoming a vegetarian is as good as any and probably better than most because it affects everyone in the world through climate change, world hunger, and world economy. The production of livestock is responsible for “15% of global greenhouse gas emissions which is more than all of the world’s planes, trains, and automobiles put together” (What If The World Went Vegetarian? 00:01:32-00:01:35).

You may also be familiar with the water crisis. Did you know that meat consumption is a factor? It takes 15,000 liters of water to make one kilogram of beef. Compare that with 300 liters for one kilogram of garden veggies and 900 liters for cereal crops. Even if you take the ratio of calories produced to the water required, beef takes seven times more water to make one calorie than veggies and twenty times more than cereal crops. In fact, you can save more water by not eating a pound of meat than you can by not showering for six months. Most people are aware of carbon monoxide as a threat to our climate. Methane is an even bigger threat. “It has 25% more climate-changing power than carbon monoxide” and cows on average produce 70-120 kilograms a year (What If The World Went Vegetarian? 00:01:25-00:01:47). Multiply that by the 1.5 billion cows in the world and that makes 180 billion kilograms of methane per year. You can imagine the impact that would have over your lifetime.

Not only is cutting the meat from your diet healthy for the environment, but also beneficial for your personal health. “An Oxford study published in the British Medical Journal found that vegetarians outlive meat eaters by six years on average” (Top 10 Reasons for Going Veggie). The correlation between meat consumption and a wide range of degenerative diseases is well founded and includes Osteoporosis, kidney stones and Gallstones, Diabetes, Multiple sclerosis, Arthritis, and gum disease. In fact, five diet-related chronic diseases cost the US economy a staggering $1 trillion each year! (This is an estimate of direct medical costs and the indirect impact of productivity losses due to illness and premature death associated with chronic heart disease and stroke, obesity, cancer, diabetes, and osteoporosis). With a trillion dollars, for some perspective, you could spend one dollar every second around the clock and not run out for 312,688 years. Vegetarians have been shown to have a 24% lower risk of dying of heart disease than non-vegetarians (“Top 10 Reasons for Going Veggie”). “Heart disease is responsible for 1 in every 4 deaths in the US which makes it the number one cause of death in the US” (Heart Disease Facts).  Just by not eating meat you can vastly decrease your chances of getting heart disease. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and a division of the CDC, the National Center for Health Statistics, “64% of adults and 15% of children aged 6 to 19 are overweight” which eating meat has been shown to have a correlation with (“Why Go Veg?”). Many unhealthy aspects of life are out of your control, but your diet is something you do have control over.

Another danger in eating meat is drug exposure. It is fairly common knowledge that many animals raised for slaughter receive antibiotics to counteract the bacteria they are exposed to from living in crowded conditions. According to a study from the Center for Food Safety 99.9% of chicken and 78% of beef consumed in the United States come from overcrowded factory farms. It is less known however that these animals are exposed to over 400 kinds of drugs to either make them grow abnormally fast or to keep them alive in conditions that would normally kill them. The Center for Food Safety even found drugs that pose significant threats to humans and animals in the meat. These drugs have been approved by the FDA and are on the market. Twelve of these drugs are banned in other countries but remain legal to use in the US. Many big corporations in the agricultural sector have close ties with the FDA and can manipulate the FDA to benefit them and their industry.

These drugs fed to livestock include a vast number of antibiotics. An issue that is gaining more widespread public awareness is the threat of antibiotic resistance. You might be aware of this problem, but did you know that “80% of antibiotics in the US are used to feed livestock raised for meat production” (Over 450 Drugs Are Administered to Farmed Animals Julie Cappiello)? Antibiotic resistance is a major global issue. Essentially, the increasing human population means more meat production, and as our meat production rises so does the number of overcrowded farms. With overcrowded farms, bacteria thrives which leads to antibiotic use. The trouble now is that with more and more bacteria and more and more antibiotics, scientists fear that bacteria will develop a resistance to antibiotics, and by 2050, we should expect to lose 10 million people each year as a result. Many of these problems could be helped by less meat production.

Being a vegetarian is not just an alternative to negative consequences, it’s a lifestyle that offers many different options and leads to good health. There are more options for vegetarians than ever before. Travel companies are adding trips that only visit vegetarian restaurants, and it is easier than ever to find dining options all over the world. New vegan and vegetarian restaurants are opening with the increased popularity of this lifestyle and more restaurants are making efforts to accommodate vegetarians. People who become vegetarian often say they feel healthier. One thing that people don’t realize when they say “I couldn’t live without meat” or “I would be a vegetarian but I just like meat too much” is that there are scrumptious meals that vegetarians eat all of the time. For example; in some parts of India most people are vegetarian. All around the world, there are traditional cuisines that feature vegetarian dishes. Some of the most delicious foods come from places like India, Thailand, and the Mediterranean.

If you are unfamiliar with veganism, it is a lifestyle that means different things for different people. For some, it means not consuming any animal products such as milk, eggs, or honey. For others, it means not even using any animal products, such as wool, leather, and down feathers. Veganism is a much harder diet to follow than vegetarianism especially if you have other dietary restrictions. It has a huge environmental impact as well. One way that being vegan helps animals, is that it helps to eradicate the overcrowded dairy and egg farms all over the world. To learn more about being a vegan you may consider looking at the information found on The Vegan Society.

You can make a major impact by choosing not to eat meat. The simple choice of becoming vegetarian could vastly improve the state of many serious and complex issues. I implore you to consider becoming vegetarian which would improve your own health as well as many worldwide problems. Imagine you and your family searching for new vegetarian recipes, laughing at the ones that look disgusting and bookmarking the ones that look good. You might have fun searching and making your new favorite vegetarian dishes, or maybe the best part of being vegetarian for you is that you enjoy helping the issues that matter to you. You don’t have to be a certain kind of person to become a vegetarian. All different kinds of people become vegetarian for all different reasons and I believe that there is a compelling reason for everyone.


Antibiotics- a medicine (such as penicillin or its derivatives) that inhibits the growth of or destroys microorganisms

CDC- Center for Disease Control

FDA- Food and Drug Administration

Vegan- a person who does not eat or use animal products

Vegetarian- a person who does not eat meat, and sometimes other animal products, especially for moral, religious, or health reasons

Works Cited

Cappiello, Julie. “Over 450 Drugs Are Administered to Farmed Animals.” Mercy for Animals, April 13, 2017,

Center for Disease Control and Prevention. “Heart Disease Facts.” Center for Disease Control and Prevention, November 28, 2017,

Cook, Michelle Schoffro. “Shocking Drugs Contaminate American Meat Supply.” Care2, September 10, 2018,

Down to Earth. “Top ten reasons to go veggie.” Down to Earth, 01/30/2019,

Majd, Sanaz. “How to Be a Healthy Vegetarian.” Quick and Dirty Tips, January 17, 2018,

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Walsh, Nora. “Vegan or Vegetarian? You Have More Travel and Dining Options Than Ever.” The New York Times, Nov. 13, 2018,

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March 19th, 2019|

Climate Change

I am so incredibly proud of this student, author of “Plastic in Our Oceans” and “Factory Farming”. She has honed her writing skills and continues to produce powerful, well-written essays about important topics. She worked so hard on this essay and always accepted my edits and suggestions with a smile and willingness to learn. I can’t wait to see what she writes next! 



Grade 6

Climate Change


You have probably heard of climate change before. Maybe you’ve heard about it on the news or read about it somewhere. Some people deny climate change. But we have a serious problem that we can’t keep ignoring: our climate is changing. Temperatures are rising, storms are coming, floods are wiping out crops, forest fires are burning cities and towns, famine and diseases are killing hundreds of people at a time, droughts are preventing people from getting water, animals are being affected, and all this is climate change.

We have to get a few things straight. First, isn’t the climate supposed to change? Yes. It is supposed to change. Believe it or not the climate changes naturally. The temperatures go up and throw the planet into a hot hundred years, the oceans bubble and boil in the heat, volcanoes erupt into the ashy dark sky. Then the temperatures drop and the world freezes. Ice, snow, sleet, and hail pour from the sky and mold to the earth in the cold. Glaciers collapse and bury frozen plants, and the little life there is during the Ice age. So climate change is supposed to happen. Then why is this such a big deal? If this is all natural, then why are there storms and droughts all over the news? It’s because we caused the climate to change and our climate is changing way too fast. Because of the Industrial Revolution, which was when humans started to affect the climate, fossil fuels have caused the entire planet to have a massive problem. The climate is warming and the planet is creating lots of problems for humans. From droughts in South Africa to hurricanes and floods in Puerto Rico and the United States. From forest fires in California to melting ice in the North Pole. If we don’t do something soon the planet is going to get very, very, hot. And there is no Planet B.

What Causes the Climate to Change

The climate determines the weather patterns. Earth’s climate has storms; blizzards, thunder and lightning storms, hail, and sand storms. It can be sunny; warm, occasionally hot. There are droughts and dry seasons. All this is our climate: an even balance. It’s not supposed to change as fast as it is now. But everywhere it’s getting warmer. Snow and ice are melting and flowing into oceans, making sea levels rise eight inches in 100 years. In places that are already hot, the sand is drying up, cracking, and water sources like blue lakes and bubbling streams are disappearing. The earth, where water once was, turns dry and yellow. The reason for this starts with greenhouse gases.

Earth’s atmosphere reaches about 60 miles into space. Our atmosphere is made of gases. The primary ones are nitrogen and oxygen. They make up more than 99% of the atmosphere. The rest consists of greenhouse gases. These gases function just like their name says: like a greenhouse. Have you ever seen a greenhouse? Greenhouses are made of glass or plastic. The plastic or glass lets sunlight in to warm plants inside, but it doesn’t let it out, keeping the room inside at a good temperature, protecting the plants and allowing them to thrive at all times, even at night! Greenhouse gasses are a key component to our atmosphere and they work in the same way, keeping our earth’s temperatures reasonably steady. Without greenhouse gases the earth would be cold and frozen. For 10 thousand years the atmosphere’s greenhouse gases have been doing their job. But now all that is changing because recently, greenhouse gas levels have risen. They are trapping light in Earth’s atmosphere. Temperatures are steadily rising.

Carbon Dioxide (CO2) is everywhere; in oceans, rocks, soil, even in us! People and animals breathe in oxygen and breathe out CO2. Gail Herman, author of ‘What is Climate Change’, described the atmosphere as a “delicate balancing act” because if there is too much CO2 or too much oxygen the balance tips and everything is destroyed. It’s called climate change. And it’s happening now.

Four point six billion years ago Earth had just formed and it was very hot. At times reaching more than 3,600° F. It was like a volcano! But the earth cooled, the planet shifted and seasons began. The climate changed and everything became cold. The reason for this climate change billions of years ago was the first life: a small bacteria living in the ocean. The bacteria gave off oxygen and volcanoes give off C02 when they erupt. Everything was in balance. It was the combination of a lapse in volcanic activity that tipped the balance between CO2 and oxygen and the new oxygen replaced the greenhouse gases that cooled the planet. The world was cold until more life was born, creatures that breathed in oxygen and released CO2. The world balanced out again. There would be two more freezes that followed the short time of balance. The temperature would rise and fall. Lands shifted and collided, oceans were formed, and volcanoes erupted. About 540 million years ago the temperature was in a temporary balanced time. The Dinosaur Age was here. Then 66 million years ago, another climate change happened. An asteroid hit Earth. It sprung up fires, buried plants and animals, and filled the sky with smoke and ash that blocked out the sun. The earth grew cold and dark again. The dinosaurs were extinct.  Soon the air cleared and the sun warmed the earth again. The Age of Mammals arrived. Our ancestors came, hunting in the mountains and valleys. The planet steadied out again. Our planet goes through cycles;cold and hot times lasting around a hundred thousand years each. We call these stages ice ages. And believe it or not, now we are in a warm ice age. Around now the earth should be getting colder, not warmer.

Ninety seven percent of climate scientists agree that the cause of this is human beings. It all started 250 years ago, during the Industrial Revolution. Humans went from small wood spinning wheels to giant factories billowing smoke into the air. These factories used fossil fuels to power their machines. Coal, oil, and gas are all fossil fuels we use today. Fossil fuels are fossilized plants and animals. When these fuels are burned they release C02 into the air. Trains, cars, planes, factories, and buses all use a fossil fuel to power them. This is throwing the balance off. This is climate change.

How Climate Change Could Affect You


“To know what a wildfire might do next, researchers need to know how an inferno interacts with the atmosphere” said Craig Clements in an interview with Scientific America.  

Wildfires are extremely hot, extremely dangerous incidents that can occur in droughts or even when lightning strikes the earth.  In California, a wildfire recently ripped through the town of Paradise, and burned homes and schools to the ground. People died. Homes were destroyed.  Scientists believe that to prevent more horrible fires we need to know more about how climate affects the fires. As the fire starts to ignite and grow larger and more powerful, it starts to create its own wind. This is a serious problem, because the more oxygen the fire consumes, the bigger and hotter it gets. If the wind is blowing around 10 miles per hour, the fire won’t be as big of a problem. But if the wind picks up to 20 mph, that starts to become a problem. When this happens, fires spread rapidly. And when they start to burn for real, spreading with immense heat, and fueled by the wind they create and the life they consume, they start burning more and more ferociously and there is almost no way of stopping them. This in turn creates even more wind and puts even more heat into the already sweltering and smoke filled air.

These fires hurt people. In Paradise, California the search is still going to find the people lost in the rubble. Hundreds of people lost their homes. Some people might ask how this could affect them. This is happening all the way across the country. It can’t affect us! But this is a misconception. Climate change is an unpredictable force of nature and it will affect all of us unless we do something.

Water Crisis

Climate change is affecting everything, from wildfires in California to water in South Africa. In Senekal, South Africa, a little town on a river, with lots of sun, situated at the bottom of South Africa, a drought is ravaging through the town. It has caused farmers to stop planting the crops that feed the town and cattle have been sold early, the owners unable to watch their animals die of dehydration. The cause of the drought is something called El Nino. It is a weather pattern influenced by climate change. El Nino is not caused by climate change, but the effects of it are made worse by our changing climate. El Nino has started to cause extreme droughts in other parts of Africa, western United States, and in South Africa. Water storage is slowly depleting and recently, some people have had to resort to receiving water from emergency supplies. People don’t know where this water is coming from. Soon, they will have no water at all. This day is known as “Day Zero”. On Day Zero water supplies will be cut off and the people of South Africa will be without one of the main sources of life on this planet: water. Again, some people may be thinking, this crisis is across the world from me! I won’t be affected by El Nino and these droughts at all! And, again, this assumption is wrong. The United States is being affected too. Recently temperatures have been over 95 degrees in western United States. Droughts are becoming more prominent. Annual precipitation has increased by 20% and floods and hurricanes have never been worse. We all will be affected soon.

Famine and Disease

With all the damage that floods and storms bring and all the lives the fires destroy combined with the droughts that devastate farm fields, food has become scarce in some places. The threat of famine is on the edge of throwing hundreds of people into starvation. Famine is the lack of food. When storms rip through towns and farm fields, they destroy food sources which many people need to survive. Many effects on agriculture in the Midwest are becoming harder to navigate around for farmers. Flood damage to drainage systems are creating a problem of less drinking water in some places. Climate change is going to make growing food harder.  Disease is another problem climate change is affecting. Air quality is decreasing, causing more heat-related illnesses, in the Midwest.

How Climate Change Affects Animals

In the 1980’s polar bears roamed the icy cold shores of the North Pole. They played along the ice and ran in the snowy mountains. In winter when the ice was still solid and thick the bears hunted, catching seals and swimming. They were strong and healthy, preparing for the summer when the ice wasn’t strong enough to hold them up. When the summer did come, they waited for winter, playing and running. But in 2016, polar bears were thin and weak. The bears’ hunting season is melting away, just like the ice. The ice is strong for only a couple months and temperatures are rising because of climate change. Therefore the ice the polar bears need to survive is disappearing. The polar bears can’t catch enough seals to keep themselves alive for the summer. The animals of our planet need our help. They are being affected by climate change just as much as humans are.

Other animals are being hurt as well. Rising temperatures are forcing moose to move north, seeking the colder areas of Canada and the United States. Salmon need to find the cool waters of rivers to spawn and climate change is not making that easy. Turtles are being tangled in plastic and fishing nets and they drown in the waters (Plastic in the Oceans). Whales and dolphins are being poisoned by the changing climate and the warming waters. People in droughts are finding it harder and harder to find water to give their livestock so cows and horses, ducks and chickens, even dogs and cats, are dying of dehydration. Animals in the deserts are running out of the little water they have. Climate Change is destroying our planet, killing the animals and plants that used to thrive here. This is our job to fix.

How to Delay Climate Change

On top of all this some people think climate change is a hoax! But it is real. Think of the baby polar bears starving in the cold, waiting for their parents to return with food that will never come. Or flooded houses and towns that were once someone’s home, washed away by flooding oceans. Or the dry deserts that were once lakes and rivers. If this isn’t proof enough, then look at the rising temperatures, the educated scientists telling us we have to act! The climate is changing. Snow and ice is melting. Oceans are flooding. Rivers and lakes are drying up. People’s homes are being burned or flooded.

We can not stop climate change, but we can delay climate change. The climate is supposed to change. It’s natural, but the climate can’t change this fast. We have to help slow it down to normal. One way is to carpool, so less cars are driven and less fossil fuels are burned. Other ways are to ride your bike, use less hot water, eat more local vegetables so trucks don’t have to use so much fossil fuel shipping it here, and/or eat less meat. Believe it or not, factory farms that have a lot of cows in one place all crowded together is really bad for the environment, but not exactly in the way you would think. Cow farts contain massive amounts of methane, which is a big contributor to this problem with our climate.  Funny right? Not really. Climate change is not funny. People get killed. Entire cities are burned to the ground. And everyone is going to be affected by this. Including you. Unless we do something about this.  There are a lot of ways to help, from volunteering to educating others about this serious problem. There are lots of different ways to get involved in the projects to help people, animals, and habitats from being destroyed by fires, floods, and storms, including: reading different articles and books that educate people about climate change, consider buying hybrid or electric cars, donating to different organizations (Sea Turtle Conservancy,  Earth Day Network, Climate Project), and many others.


Climate change is real. The climate is changing and we are doing almost nothing to delay it. But we can change that. Unless we do something, we are going to be our own destruction. Unless we find an alternative to fossil fuels – ride our bikes, volunteer, march on Earth Day, decide to educate ourselves and others – we are going to be the ones ruining our planet. And there is no planet B.


Cimons, Marlene. “A warmer planet might make deadly bacteria more resistant to antibiotics.” Nexus Media, June 14, 2018,

Landhuis, Esther. “The war on superbugs.” Science News for Students, July 16, 2014,

“South Africa city braces for strict water limits as the well runs dry.” Newsela, February 8, 2018,

“Climate change in the U.S. Midwest.” Newsela, April 6, 2017,

“Top 10 animals endangered by climate change.” One Kind Planet, 2016,

Wallace-Wells, David. “The Uninhabitable Earth.” Intelligencer,

“Climate change: How do we know?” Global Climate Change,

Thompson, Andrea. “This scientist chases wildfires to better predict fire behavior.” ScientificAmerican,

January 11th, 2019|

Mohandas Gandhi

By Mason


Many people have heard of Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi, who is often referred to as Mahatma, meaning great soul, or Bapu, meaning grandfather. However, what may be less known are all his accomplishments, challenges, and goals. This one man has influenced and helped so many people, and continues to inspire others to do the same.

Gandhi was born on October 2, 1869, in Porbandar India, and was shot and killed on January 30, 1948, while he was praying. He accomplished what many would have called impossible. When he saw unfairness, he stood up against it even if it meant he had to fast, march, rally, or meet with officials. He stood up for others, at little or no personal gain. He stood up for his beliefs and didn’t let anyone get in the way of accomplishing what he wanted, and I hope he continues to inspire many more people to try their best to fight for what they believe in.


Later in Gandhi’s life, he did many amazing things. However, his childhood was nothing too out of the ordinary. Gandhi was born on October 2, 1869, in Porbandar India, on the shore of the Arabian Sea. He grew up in a full house with his two older brothers, his older sister, his mother, his father, and all his uncles, aunts, and cousins. Gandhi grew up Hindu. His mother Putliba was especially religious. In Hinduism, there were four castes or groups that you could belong to that determined your social status. The caste system still exists today. Although discrimination based on caste is illegal, the castes are still a big part of modern-day India. While the term “caste” is still widely used in the more rural parts of India, in the cities some Indians don’t refer to them as “castes”. Instead, they call them “communities”, although no one denies that they are really castes. The Brahmins are priests and teachers. The Kshatriyas are rulers and warriors. Vaisyas are merchants and farmers. And lastly, Shudras are the laboring classes. Even though there are four castes, there are some people who didn’t belong to any caste at all. These people are called the untouchables. An untouchable is said to have done something bad in his or her previous life and they experience a lot of prejudice, more so in the past than today. Gandhi would later devote part of his life to help the untouchables fight for their rights. Gandhi’s family belonged to the third caste because Gandhi’s father, Karamchand Gandhi, was the Daiwan, or prime minister, of Porbandar, where they lived. Since his family was relatively wealthy, Gandhi got to go to school and didn’t have to help his family earn money like most children in India at the time.

As a kid, Gandhi had a lot of independence and he was adventurous. He loved to go exploring the market in Porbandar. One day when Mohandas was six he and his friends sneaked into the temple while the priest was taking an afternoon nap and took some of the sacred statues to play with, but one of his friends dropped a statue and the priest’s wife heard them. Mohandas was the only one who admitted guilt, even at age six he preferred to tell the truth. When Gandhi was eight Britain fully took over India and Queen Victoria ruled over India.

In 1879, when Gandhi was ten, his family moved to Rajkot where he went to high school. Later the school would be named after him. When Gandhi was just thirteen he was married to a fourteen-year-old girl named Kasturba. Getting married young was not uncommon then. Gandhi was a domineering husband, and unjustly strict to Kasturba. Also for Gandhi, having a wife was a huge distraction from his school work. Despite his early marriage, Gandhi and Kasturba were married for 62 years until Kasturba died in 1944. When Gandhi was 16, his father died of illness. Karamchand had been on a steady decline, so Gandhi had stayed with him. But just when Gandhi left to get some sleep and to be with Kasturba, his father passed away quite suddenly. A few weeks after Gandhi’s father’s death Kasturba gave birth to a baby boy, but unfortunately, he died soon after he was born. Before Gandhi turned 18, he and Kasturba had their first surviving son. His name was Harilal.

In 1888, Gandhi said goodbye to Kasturba and set off for London. He had decided to study law so that he could eventually fulfill his father’s role as Daiwan. His mother insisted that he not touch meat or drink alcohol because their branch of Hinduism prohibited them from doing so. The voyage to London took three weeks by boat. And when he got there he was amazed by the bright lights. He discovered vegetarian restaurants in London and joined the London Vegetarian Society. A member of the society gave him a copy of the Bhagavad Gita, also called the Gita for short, which is the sacred book of Hinduism, and another member gave him the Bible. Although he had heard some of the Gita read at religious services, he had never actually read it all the way through. Gandhi felt greatly moved by the Gita. In 1890 Gandhi passed his bar examination and in 1891 he went back to India. When he got back to India, one of his brothers informed him at the dock that their mother had died a few weeks earlier. Gandhi decided to move to Bombay to start a career as a lawyer. Gandhi started a law practice, but finding himself tongue-tied at his first trial Gandhi moved back to Rajkot where he and Kasturba had their second child in 1892. Around that time, out of the blue, someone offered Gandhi job. They were involved in a lawsuit in South Africa, and there was a need for an Indian lawyer. Gandhi immediately accepted. Only a little after he arrived in Durban Gandhi was called to attend the trial.

On the way to the trial, Gandhi experienced something he had never experienced before racial prejudice. While on the train, a railroad official ordered him to ride in the baggage car. Gandhi replied that he had a first class ticket and intended to remain in the first class compartment. A police officer was called to remove him from the train and his baggage was locked up. Sitting in that station that night he decided that he would do his best to change the lives of thousands of Indians who were being discriminated against in South Africa. Gandhi continued to experience racism on the rest of his journey to the trial. On the rest of Gandhi’s trip,  the agent would not allow him to ride in the coach with the other passengers. He wanted Gandhi to sit on the floorboards at the driver’s feet. When Gandhi refused, the agent punched him. The passengers helped him by insisting that Gandhi stay in the coach.


At the time, Gandhi thought that his trip to South Africa would be only a business trip, but later Gandhi spent most of his adult life there advocating for racial justice, untouchables’ rights, and many other important issues. His activism there was partly prompted by the racism and prejudice he experienced on his way to the trial. When the trial was over Gandhi learned of a bill being passed in the South African province of Natal by the all-white legislature at the time, that prohibited Indians from voting. Their reasoning for passing the Franchise Amendment Bill was that they claimed that Indians could not understand the government anyway. The government even stated that “he is a political infant of the most backward type,” (Severance) referring to the Indian citizen. When Gandhi asked many of his Indian friends about what they thought about the bill, he got shrugs and they expressed that they thought there was no use fighting the white men. Because of this, Gandhi decided to help fight the bill.

Gandhi believed that since the Indians were also under Queen Victoria’s rule, they were entitled to the same rights. Some wealthy Muslim merchants asked Gandhi to postpone his return to India and he agreed to stay and help organize a movement against the Franchise Amendment Bill. Gandhi organized a meeting to form an Indian opposition. Under his direction, Indians sent letters to legislatures and made a petition that picked up over ten thousand signatures. It was sent to the Secretary of State for the British colonies. Unfortunately, this massive movement only delayed the passing of the bill. After the opposition to the Franchise Amendment Bill ended, Gandhi’s friends begged him to stay. Gandhi agreed and he started a law office in Durban in the province of Natal, South Africa. But he never charged legal fees for public work. Over the next three years, the practice thrived and Gandhi organized much more.

Gandhi, realizing that his work in South Africa would take longer than he had initially thought, decided to go back to India and bring Kasturba and their two sons to Natal. He took six months off and went back to India. While in India, Gandhi gave many speeches and wrote pamphlets about the unjust treatment of Indians in South Africa. He also met many other political leaders.

At the end of his ride back to Natal with several hundred passengers, his two sons, and Kasturba pregnant with a third child, the Natal government would not allow them to get off the ship. The vessel was anchored in the harbor for three weeks before the government finally allowed them off the boat. When the captain of the ship asked Gandhi about how he felt about the authorities who were trying their best to stop him from returning to Natal Gandhi said, “I have no anger against them. I am only sorry for the ignorance and narrowness. I know that they sincerely believe that what they’re doing today is right and proper” (Severance). When he was finally permitted to go ashore he was beaten by a white mob. He was rescued by the wife of a police superintendent who protected him until the police arrived. The news of the attack spread to England where many people were upset. The Secretary of State for the Colonies, Joseph Chamberlain, sent word from London that the attackers should be prosecuted. Gandhi refused, saying that it was not their fault but the fault of the Natal government. Under pressure from Chamberlain and from the British government in India, the Natal legislature passed a law establishing equal voting rights for all British subjects. This had been Gandhi’s goal all along.

As soon as Gandhi was done rallying for equal voting rights he was on to a new problem: untouchability. There were many people called untouchables who experienced much prejudice. Untouchables were the people who did not to belong to any caste at all. Even touching the untouchables or the untouchables’ shadows was said to be a bad omen. Gandhi believed that there should be no untouchability. He thought that it was too much like racial prejudice. Gandhi and Kasturba started sharing the housework with the untouchables, although in the beginning Kasturba was opposed to the idea. Gandhi had come to believe that learning self-reliance was more important than a formal education. He would not send his sons to local schools because he believed that the schools were too European. Gandhi didn’t want his sons to learn Western ways without learning anything about their own culture. Even though Gandhi made them wear western clothes and shoes, he kept them home, hoping to find time to tutor them himself. When his sons were grown, all four of them resented the fact that they never got a good education.

In 1899 a war broke out between the British and the Boer settlers in Transvaal, South Africa. The Boers were Dutch farmers who settled in South Africa. The Boers were angry at the English adventurers who were moving into Boer territory to mine gold and diamonds. Gandhi was sympathetic to the Boers, but he felt obligated to help the British because he believed that the citizens of the empire should support the government from which they expected their benefits. He thought that it would be a good opportunity to earn improved conditions for the Indians by demonstrating their loyalty to the British. Because of Gandhi’s strict beliefs in nonviolence instead of organizing an Indian regiment to kill enemy soldiers, he decided to establish an ambulance corps of stretcher bearers and hospital workers. Gandhi and some other Indians started training as nurses, but because of racial prejudice, the Natal government would not permit them to serve. A little later when the war became more difficult for the British, Gandhi’s ambulance corps was allowed to go into action. The corps was especially heroic at one of the bloodiest fights in the war: The Battle of Spion Kop. Winston Churchill was also at the battle but he and Gandhi didn’t meet until a few years later. When the war was over Gandhi thought his work in Natal was finished and the task of improving the situation of Indians in South Africa could be carried on by friends. He also hoped that his work in the war would be rewarded with better treatment of the Indians in South Africa.

Gandhi moved back to Bombay where he opened a new law office. At his farewell party in South Africa, he was showered with gold, silver, and diamond jewelry. Gandhi was made uncomfortable by all of this because he believed that “a public worker should except no costly gifts” (Severance). Gandhi decided to refuse the treasures, but Kasturba didn’t want to give up a very expensive gold necklace. Not very long after Gandhi had started his law office in Bombay he was called back to South Africa in 1902. The government in England was extremely anxious to keep the peace between the British and the Boers. Concessions were granted and a former Boer leader, General Louis Botha, became prime minister of the Union of South Africa. Issues arose when his government was trying to “drive the coolies out of the country” (Severance), referring to the local Indian population.

The Secretary of State for the colonies, Joseph Chamberlain, would be visiting from London and the Indian community in South Africa wanted Gandhi to meet with him in Durban. They hoped he could persuade Mr. Chamberlin to do something about the rising tide of racial prejudice. When Gandhi arrived back in South Africa, he saw that the situation had become much worse. The Indians’ ambulance corps serving in the Boer war had been totally forgotten. There was much more racial prejudice in South Africa. When Gandhi met with Chamberlain, who had other issues on his mind, he was only mildly sympathetic. He told Gandhi that the other Indians would have to try and make their own peace with the Europeans if they wanted to live among them.

In 1904 Pneumonic Plague broke out in the Indian section of Johannesburg, South Africa. The Pneumonic Plague kills quickly by infecting the lungs and is very contagious. Gandhi had no fear of it. He and a couple of volunteers nursed some of the sickest patients in an old building at the edge of town. The health authorities evacuated the town and relocated the people to tents outside of the town. Then they set all the buildings in that part of town on fire to wipe out the plague.

When the plague was gone, Gandhi moved the newspaper he had founded in 1904 called the Indian Opinion to a ninety-acre farm near a town called Phoenix in Durban, South Africa. Gandhi wanted to give an example of a simple life, and 1905 Gandhi’s wife and three youngest sons joined him at the farm. Gandhi’s law practice was successful and he was becoming quite wealthy.

In 1906 the Zulu Rebellion broke out in Natal. When a Zulu chief killed a tax collector, the British authorities tried to punish the Zulus with local volunteer troops. The Zulus where a local tribe in South Africa. Gandhi decided to again order an Indian Ambulance Corp. The armature soldiers started beating and locking up any innocent Zulu farmers they saw. Gandhi and his corps started tending to the injured tribesmen. While traveling with the army he solidified his decision that he would devote himself to public service work.

When Gandhi’s work in the ambulance corps was over, the Johannesburg government proposed a law called the Asiatic Registration Bill or as Gandhi later named it, the “Black Act”, that would require all Indians and Chinese in Transvaal to be fingerprinted like criminals, and carry their certificates of registration at all times. Gandhi figured the “Black Act” (Severance) would cause even more discrimination and “absolute ruin for the Indians of South Africa” (Severance). At a mass meeting arranged by Gandhi in the Empire Theater in Johannesburg, three thousand angry Indians listened to the chairman of the British Indian Association of Transvaal read a resolution asking Hindus and Muslims alike to refuse to register. Other speakers urged everyone present to pledge refusal. Gandhi rose to state the pledging refusal was serious business and asked if everyone was ready to accept beatings, going to jail, or even death. When he was finished the entire crowd rose and swore to disobey the law even if it meant going to jail.

The pledge was a new kind of opposition to government unfairness. Many people described it as “passive resistance”. Gandhi wanted to find a name for this kind of resistance. He decided on publishing a competition in the Indian Opinion and offered a prize to whoever could come up with the best name. The name that won was “satyagraha” which in Hindi means “truth and firmness in a good cause” (Severance).

Gandhi, satisfied with the new name, decided to take a delegation to England. He was hoping to persuade the British government to withhold approval for the law. In October of 1906, Gandhi met with many important officials and requested that they help resist the law. On his way back to South Africa, Gandhi and his friends learned that the Secretary of State for the colonies, Victor Alexander Bruce, had refused ascent for the Black Act. Gandhi regarded this as a great victory for the Satyagrahi. Unfortunately, the Black Act was proposed again in July and passed. At first, the government was reluctant to arrest resisters and kept postponing the deadline for the registration. Eventually, they started arresting people. When Gandhi was arrested he asked for the maximum punishment. The confused judge said that admitting guilt does not call for the maximum punishment which would be six months in jail and a fine. Instead, he got two months in jail and no fine. While in jail, or as Gandhi called them, “His majesty’s hotels”, Gandhi had plenty of time to read. Gandhi wasn’t the only Indian in jail. The jails were filling up with Indians and former Boer general Jan Christiaan Smuts, who was then the Minister in charge of Indian Affairs, offered Gandhi a deal. He would release the prisoners if they would register voluntarily. Then General Smuts promised that he would repeal the law. Gandhi accepted, and the Indians were released. But many Indians were angry that he accepted. They thought of it as a betrayal. When Gandhi went to register he was beaten. Gandhi then decided to continue the resistance. At a mass meeting in Johannesburg, thousands of Indians burned their registrations. Gandhi, along with many others, was again thrown in jail. When their terms were up they would continue to agitate the law and get thrown into jail again. By late 1909, the situation had become a stalemate. In a final effort to resolve the issue, Gandhi led a delegation to London to lobby for the repeal of the Black Act. They spent three months discussing their cause in many meetings with government officials and influential private citizens. Gandhi also met with many Indian nationalists who started him thinking about the possibility of Indian independence. By November, it was clear the government was not prepared to offer any help, so the delegation sailed back to South Africa.

When Gandhi arrived back in South Africa, the campaign had run out of money and Gandhi was depressed. Just when he was feeling like there was no hope for the movement, news of a wealthy Indian industrialist who was willing to donate 25,000 Indian rupees or about $350 to the Satyagraha Movement reached Gandhi. Since most of the Satyagrahi were poor and couldn’t support their families for very long, it was decided that the money should go to families in distress who needed a place to live and work. Gandhi decided that it would be a good idea to set up another community like the one he made for the Indian Opinion newspaper where people could live simple lives. A wealthy architect bought a thousand acres outside Johannesburg in May 1910 which he gave to Gandhi for the project. Gandhi called it Tolstoy Farm after Leo Tolstoy whose writings Gandhi admired.

In 1913, another problem emerged. A judge had just ruled that only Christian marriages had legal status, and at the same time, a law called the Union Immigration Restriction was passed which prohibited future Indian immigration to South Africa. Gandhi now felt it necessary to expand the Satyagraha Movement to all of South Africa. Gandhi led protest marches hoping to overcrowd the jails with Satyagrahi. In June 1914, Gandhi negotiated with General Jan Christiaan Smuts. The result was the Indian Relief Bill, which was passed by the Union Parliament in July. Now all Hindu and Muslim marriages would be recognized and unfair taxes on Indians would be removed but most of the Union Immigration Restriction Act would remain. Gandhi regarded the compromise as a great victory for the Satyagraha Movement and sent General Smuts a pair of sandals that he had made while in prison. For 25 summers Smuts wore the sandals while working on his farm. On Gandhi’s 70th birthday Smuts returned them saying “I have worn these sandals. . . even though I may feel that I am not worthy to stand in the shoes of such a man.” (Severance)

Gandhi made a huge impact for the Indian citizens in South Africa. He worked remarkably hard to implement his beliefs in protesting injustice with nonviolence. He helped to liberate many Indians from racial prejudice, but Gandhi’s work wasn’t done yet. When he got back to India he would protest many more injustices with nonviolence. The message that he gave the crowds he saw on his farewell tour of South Africa was, “It is time to let the wounds heal” (Severance).


When Gandhi got home to India, he learned that a close friend of his and a fellow political leader named Gokhale was quite ill. Gandhi decided to go stay with him. Just before Gokhale died, he got Gandhi to promise that he would stay out of politics for one whole year to “refresh his understanding of the people” (Severance). Gokhale wanted him to travel throughout India meeting people. When Gokhale died, Gandhi started his year of traveling. His first visit was to Santiniketan or “Home of Peace,” (Severance) in Bengal. The school there was founded by Rabindranath Tagore who may have been the first to call Gandhi “Mahatma” (Severance) or “Great Soul” (Severance).

When Gandhi finished his year of traveling, he decided to try to pursue the lofty goal of liberating India from British rule. His first small step was to create a new settlement where people could be self-sufficient like the one in Africa. Gandhi founded his new ashram on the river Sabarmati. Gandhi’s first roadblock came when a family of untouchables asked to join. Gandhi immediately agreed, but some of the followers protested. Gandhi believed that there should be no untouchability, but most people thought that the other castes were superior to the untouchables, and they didn’t want to have to share the work that the untouchables did. Gandhi decided to stay firm in his decision to welcome the family into the ashram, but the settlement lost a lot of grants, and Gandhi was having a hard time getting enough money to keep it going. Luckily a wealthy tourist made a donation and the ashram was saved.

Gandhi would also keep working to liberate the untouchables in India throughout the rest of his life. Gandhi’s next small project was to help a group of textile workers who were demanding a wage increase. Gandhi told them to strike, but after a while with nothing happening, Gandhi decided to fast until they got an increase. It only took three days. Gandhi was getting older, and that fast made him very sick. What he needed was milk. Unfortunately, drinking milk was banned from his branch of Hinduism. Kasturba wanted him to drink anyway. But Gandhi refused. A little later the sickness had become much more severe. Gandhi finally decided that goat’s milk didn’t count. After that incident, Gandhi always kept a goat as a pet.

In 1919, the Rowlatt Acts were passed. The acts prolonged some restrictions for Indians in India. As a response, Gandhi proposed a total prevention of activities, including work and school, throughout India. On April 13th, the police fired upon a peaceful gathering of twenty thousand Satyagrahi. They kept firing until they ran out of ammunition. Gandhi gave direction to the Indians to boycott British schools. He also organized rallies where at the end everyone would burn their British clothes. Gandhi would tell them to spin their own clothes on the spinning wheel. In December of 1921, there were twenty thousand Indians in prison. When Gandhi was arrested for being at a riot he got a six-year sentence in prison. He used the time to think about plans for the future. When he was released after two years, he decided to fast for twenty-one days to campaign until reconciliation could be effected between the communities. Gandhi fasted as he traveled around India to gather supporters. On the last day of Gandhi’s fast, crowds gathered. In 1925, the year that he was elected president of the Indian National Congress, Gandhi fasted again for his own health, not politics, and he decided to travel India again in peace. In 1927, Gandhi ended his year of silence and started protesting. Gandhi’s three themes were to oppose child marriages, protect the cow, and promote Hindustani as the national language instead of English. He held up to seven meetings a day. Throughout India, Mohandas Great Soul Gandhi had acquired a new name: Bapu, or Grandfather. In 1928, eighty-seven thousand local citizens rejected the tax increase of 22 percent. Gandhi again called for a Hartal, or prevention of activities, throughout India. The government gave way, giving back land and releasing prisoners.

But soon another challenge emerged: Salt Taxes. Salt taxes prohibited Indians from making their own salt. Gandhi, thinking that the salt taxes were unfair, decided to lead a march two hundred and forty miles towards the ocean. Seventy of his followers began this journey with him, but by the time he got there, there were thousands of protesters. In the end, Gandhi and thousands of other fellow Indians picked up handfuls of salt from the beach. In 1931, the manufacture of salt by Indians was made legal. Later in 1931, Gandhi and a few others set sail for London to visit General Smuts. While in prison for protesting, Gandhi did another fast to try to undo the law that made different elections for untouchables. A deal was closed a week after.

In 1933, Gandhi was still in prison. Gandhi started fasting again and he was released. In 1944 Kasturba died. Three years later in 1947, India got its full independence, and Gandhi was called the founder of a nation. He spent the day fasting. Gandhi was shot and killed on January 30, 1948, while he was praying. The killing of Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi was due to a man named Nathuram Godse. At the sight of the arrest, Nathuram spotted Devdas one of Gandhi’s sons. The conversation was later described by Nathuram’s son. The conversation went something like this: Nathuram said, “I am Nathuram Vinayak Godse, the editor of a daily, Hindu Rashtra. I too was present there (referring to Gandhi’s murder). Today you have lost your father and I am the cause of that tragedy. I am very much grieved at the bereavement that has befallen you and the rest of your family. Kindly believe me, I was not prompted to do this with any personal hatred, or any grudge or any evil intention towards you.” Godse, when asked by Gandhi’s son, why he killed him said that “the reason is purely political and political alone!” Unfortunately, he was not allowed to give a full explanation because the police were keen to take him off. Also, the court banned the statement that Nathuram made in court. After the trial, Nathuram was sentenced to death and was hung on November 15, 1949. Godse also wrote a book though before he got hanged called “Why I Killed Gandhi” In which he talks through his motives for killing Gandhi.

I think that there are many things to be learned from Gandhi’s story, among these: how to speak your mind, how to stand up for others, but most of all how to recognize injustice, and fight it. Countless times Gandhi stood up against what he felt was unfair, and countless times he was able to make things just a little bit better for the people around him. It was possible for Gandhi to keep fighting for fairness because he didn’t care what the people in positions of power said. He was able to help fight injustices because he didn’t give up. He was successful in his pursuit of equality because he knew that what he was doing was right.

Gandhi used everything that he had to help the people around him. He used his privileges to help the less privileged, as he did when he fought for the untouchables’ rights. Gandhi used his money to help India gain independence along with his innovation and leadership in projects like the ashram. Most of all Gandhi used his voice to fight for fairness, which he did whenever he saw injustice. Gandhi has inspired many people and will continue to inspire people around the world for ages to come.


Satyagraha- The name Gandhi decided on calling his civil rights movement, meaning “Truth and firmness in a good cause”.

Satyagrahi- A person who is dedicated to the truth (sat or satya), or more specifically one who offers satyagraha or participates in a Satyagraha campaign.

Caste- Each of the hereditary classes of Hindu society, distinguished by relative degrees of ritual purity or pollution and of social status.

Rupees- The basic monetary unit of India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Mauritius, and Seychelles, equal to 100 paise in India, Pakistan, and Nepal, and 100 cents in Sri Lanka, Mauritius, and Seychelles. One American dollar is roughly equal to seventy-two rupees (2018).

Hartal- A word in many South Asian languages for strike action, first used during the Indian Independence Movement (also known as the nationalist movement).

Ashram- A hermitage, monastic community, (especially in South Asia) or another place of religious retreat.

Black Act- The name that Gandhi called the Transvaal Asiatic Registration Act.

Johannesburg- Also known as Jozi, Joburg, and eGoli, Johannesburg is the largest city in South Africa and one of the 50 largest urban areas in the world. It is the provincial capital and largest city of Gauteng, which is the wealthiest province in South Africa.

Porbandar- A coastal city in the Indian state of Gujarat, perhaps best known for being the birthplace of Mahatma Gandhi and Sudama (friend of Lord Krishna). It is the administrative center of Porbandar District.

Durban- The third most populous city in South Africa—after Johannesburg and Cape Town—and the largest city in the South African province of KwaZulu-Natal.

Hinduism- A major religious and cultural tradition of South Asia, developed from Vedic religion.


Clement, Catherine. Gandhi The Power of Pacifism (Discoveries). New York, Abrams Books, 1996.

Severance, John B. Gandhi Great Soul. New York, Clarion Books, 1997.

Wilkinson, Philip. Gandhi: The Young Protester Who Founded a Nation. Washington DC, National Geographic Soc Children’s books, 2005.

Addis, Ferdie. I dare say. Manhattan, reader digest, 2012.

Bonhomme Brian, Boivin Cathleen. Milestone Documents in World History: Exploring the Primary Sources that Shaped the World. 1942 – 2000, Volume 4. Dallas, TX. 2010.

November 19th, 2018|