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: Behind The Scenes of Zoos

Behind The Scenes of Zoos

By Veronica

Zoos are a place where adults and children can interact with animals and scientists can learn about different species of animals. They keep several species in captivity and sometimes breed those animals. Zoos are also places where animals are taken from their families and homes to be displayed. Some people think that zoos are a great place to explore different kinds of animals, but they might not think about what happens to the animals. Other people think about how the animals are harmed, and choose not to support zoos. They do not want to support the abuse and tight confinement of wild animals. I think zoos should shut down because they are harming animals, making money off of animals that aren’t their property, and abusing animals.

First, zoos are problematic because they harm animals and are bad for animals’ health. Animal health in zoos is a serious issue; they are confined in small spaces and don’t eat a lot. An article by proves that, “Zoos claim to save wild animals, but wild animals in zoos are reduced to commodities and given inadequate habitats. Many animals in zoos are “charismatic megafauna,” such as lions and elephants, because they attract visitors. Charismatic megafauna are wild animals that interest humans, such as giraffes and tigers. Once cubs become adults they start to draw less attention and so the zoos kill them. That’s why zoos need to change and start caring for animals the way they should be taken care of. Even though cubs attract more people at zoos they are not treated any better. The humane society found two zoos where cubs were regularly abused. This occurred at Natural Bridge Zoo in Virginia and Tiger Safari in Oklahoma. The cubs were punched and smacked to prevent them from playfully scratching or biting people. One cub was used for 30 photo sessions and five 30 minute play sessions in one day. Separated from their mothers, cubs are robbed of nutrition and regular feeding. Many baby animals suffer from trauma of being taken away from their mom in the wild. Baby chimpanzees especially have trauma from seeing their mom being shot right in front of them. Author and animal advocate Rob Laidlaw says, “Some animals can be upset just by people looking at them.” Animals welfare groups say the practice of roadside zoos are widespread and harmful. 75 roadside zoos have removed hundreds of cubs from their mothers to allow visitors to handle them. This interrupts the feeding cubs receive from their mothers and alters their behavior. Now cubs younger than 4 weeks old can not be removed from their mothers and handled by the public. The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) had decided that this violates the Animal Welfare Act, a law that protects animals. Zoos must make sure cubs are kept with their mothers and sheltered properly. In addition, the cubs may be handled with care by zoos workers only. 

Secondly, zoos make money off of animals that are not their property. These roadside zoos have made large amounts of money allowing people to feed and play with exotic cats. Zoos have allowed visitors to have pictures taken with tigers, lions, leopards and cheetahs. The humane society said visitors paid $50 for a photo session and $300 for a play session. At that rate, one cub could earn the zoo $65,000 over the course of a single summer. If zoos keep getting the money they get now then they will keep abusing animals. When you go to a zoo you are paying money to see something that already exists in the wild, locked up in a cage. It’s like paying money to go to a tree museum when you can already see them in the wild. Not only that, but the animals you see locked up are not healthy. They are healthiest in their natural habitat. Your money is better spent doing a safari where you can drive through the animals’ natural habitat, and your money is supporting true conservation efforts. The animals are healthy and in the wild. In the future, if zoos keep taking animals from the wild then zoos will have more and more power. They will overrule the laws that are keeping animals in the wild at all. Soon you will not be able to go on safari’ and see animals because zoos will have them. That’s what will happen if you keep spending money at zoos.

Lastly, zoos are not good for conservation although they claim to be. Many people believe that because zoos keep endangered animals in captivity and breed them there that they are helping conserve populations and protecting endangered species. Some zoos claim that breeding in captivity allows them to release animals into the wild successfully later. In an article by How Stuff Works, the author Jennifer Horton writes, “After 10 years of working to strengthen the population numbers of the endangered California Condor, a type of vulture, the Los Angeles and San Diego zoos were able to rebuild a population of fewer than two dozen birds to around 170 birds.” However, “About two-thirds of them were actually strong enough to survive in the wild.” According to the same article, in the last century, there have been 145 reintroduction programs, 16 of which actually were successful. Zoos also claim that the animal’s habitat in zoos have improved over the years. David Hancocks, a former zoos director, argues that the animals’ conditions in zoos are not getting better, and still need much more improvement. “Indeed, many captive animals exhibit signs of severe distress: People have witnessed elephants bobbing their heads, bears pacing back and forth and wild cats obsessively grooming themselves.” If you think conservation is good and you support it, then do not go to zoos. They are the opposite. Conservationists are trying to help animals and not keep them caged up, whereas zoos are caging up animals and taking them out of the wild.

Zoos are not beneficial to people or animals. There are three main reasons why zoos are bad. They are dangerous and harmful to animals’ health, they are profiting from animals every day, and they say that they are doing good for animals when they are just ruining conservation efforts and killing animals. That’s why you should stop supporting zoos and start supporting wildlife conservation organizations. When you want to see different species of animals in the wild you can look at National Wildlife Refuge System, and find a place near you to support the preservation of wildlife. You can volunteer and help them instead of just paying to see the animals. Animals can be exciting to see, but you want to make sure that these animals are being treated with respect and care instead of walking away and knowing that there being abused.



Horton, Jennifer. “Are zoos good or bad for animals?” How Stuff Works. 2021,

Milman, Oliver. “Young cubs: So, cute but you can no longer hold them.” Science. April 11, 2016,

National Wildlife Refuge System.” U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. May 5, 2021,

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. “In the zoo or in the wild. it’s a tough life for the polar bear.” Science. March 5, 2016

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. “Copenhagen Zoo kills a giraffe, shocks many.” Science. February 25, 2014,

Rosenberger, Zoe. “Zoos Cause Animals Far More Harm Than Good.” Justice. June 9, 2019,

June 7th, 2021|

Student Writing: Understanding Elephants

Understanding Elephants

By Veronica

Elephants have been endangered and abused for more than 4,000 years. Elephants are an extremely important part of the ecosystem. They may not be a part of your life, but they are a huge part of the environment and other animals. There may be people who help elephants and try to make a difference, but there are also a lot of people who put elephants in bad captivity. Elephants are amazing and elegant creatures that we need to save. Humans need to help elephants and stop putting them in captivity, abusing them, and destroying their habitat. 

We need elephants on the earth, they too contribute to our ecosystem. For example, they are the world’s largest herbivores and are very good seed transporters. If they eat a fruit, then they have to poop it out and the seeds in the poop spread. That is how we have so many fruit trees now. It might be gross to us but their dung is also great food for a lot of insects. Elephants also dig waterholes, this benefits other animals a lot and helps them. Elephants are the biggest mammals on Earth so there’s not much that can get in their way. When they travel they make paths for other small animals who have a much harder time going though brushes and large grasses. When elephants trudge through tall grasses they allow the sun to help plants grow on the forest floor. But elephants’ contributions don’t stop there. In an  article by, the author sheds light on elephants’ climate change impact through helping forests store more carbon. “Elephants stomp their way around forests stepping on small trees that could become a competition to larger trees. By eliminating smaller trees, larger trees can continue to grow in diameter and total biomass. These types of  trees tend to live for extended periods and can store large amounts of carbon.” Based on this information elephants are crucial to their habitat, but our habitat on this planet.

Endangerment is a big issue for elephants. They have been on the endangered list for 23 years now. 90% of african elephants have been wiped out in the last century from loss of habit, poaching, and many other reasons. Elephants’ habitat is affected by humans. According to an article by Treehugger, “Their habitats are increasingly shrunken and fragmented by agriculture, logging, roads, and development for residential or commercial use. Elephants are migratory animals who depend on large, contiguous territories, and this trend robs them of vital resources like food and water.” Land and habitat are being taken away from them as well as food and water. It’s estimated that elephants could become extinct in 20 years. In the 19th century there were about 3-5 million elephants in the wild. Now in the 20th century there are about 400,000 left in the wild. Climate change is one of the biggest threats that elephants and many other animals face. There are many reasons that elephants are dying; such as loss of habit, starvation, pollution, and rising sea levels. That’s why we need to act now. We need to start helping them instead of killing them, because a world without elephants would be devastating.

A reason that elephants are taken from the wild is to be put in captivity. There are two different kinds of captivity, good captivity and bad captivity. People capture elephants from the wild, and force them to race each other and perform in circus acts. Elephants are chained up and put in small cages where they eat, drink, and sleep. The only time they are free from the cage is to perform circus tricks which is not much better than being in a cage. Humans often use physical punishment to train and control them. Good captivity is when someone cares for an elephant if they are hurt, then releases them back in the wild once they are able to fend for themselves. The website states that elephants don’t do well in captivity. “Historically, elephants have never bred well in captivity and, consequently, a continuous supply of elephants captured from the wild was needed to maintain or increase the captive stocks.” Breeding in captivity and captivity for human gain has never benefited elephants and never will.

Elephants feel lots of emotions like humans. They can feel joy, love, grief, stress, anger, and compassion for others. When elephants are happy or joyful they flap their ears, widen their eyes and wag their tail. If an elephant’s tail becomes stiff they are feeling anxious or scared. If they are feeling love for another elephant they flap their ears and intertwine their tusks with one another. Elephants are very intelligent and they can sense when another elephant is feeling any of these emotions. According to an article by, elephants are top on the list for most intelligent animals. “Elephants are considered to be one of the most intelligent animals. African and Asian elephants have large and well-developed brains. Their large brains have around three billion neurons, which is three times more than humans. They are some of the few animals who can recognize themselves in mirrors. Elephants show their emotional intelligence through the sense of touch.” Elephants’ emotional intelligence is incredible and even more complicated than humans.

If humans continue to destroy elephants’ habitat, put them in captivity, and abuse them, there will be negative consequences for us and them. The destruction of habitat has worsened their endangerment, which is affecting the ecosystem. People think putting elephants in captivity is preserving their numbers when it is not helping them. They don’t breed well in captivity and they are mentally suffering as well. You can do small things to help elephants and other animals.  Some ideas are: do not support businesses that threaten endangered species, donate money to groups that help care for elephants, research and learn about endangered species. You may think your part is small, but if more and more people do this then the effect is more powerful. 

Works Cited

McLendo, Russell. “Why elephants are under threat.” June 18 2020,

Morfeld, Dr. Kari. “African elephants impact on the environment blog.” October 9 2019,

Lindsay, Dr. Keith. “ What would happen if there were no elephants.” February 22 2019,

Elephant voices.

“Elephants emotions.” October 11 2010,


May 19th, 2021|

Student Writing: Hip Hop In The Classroom

Many people believe hip hop does not have a place in the classroom or in education. Some people claim it promotes violence and mistreatment of women. Other people claim that hip hop can help some students learn, who would otherwise be disinterested. I believe that hip hop should be included in classroom education because it’s more relatable to students, it reflects real life while classroom culture is out of touch, and it’s fun and exciting.

Hip hop being the most popular genre of music touches a younger audience and is more relatable to students. According to the Nielsen’s Annual music report, hip hop is the most popular genre in America since 2018. If teachers added rap music to the curriculum the students would be more interested in what they are learning about. Hip hop increases social consciousness for students, which means raising awareness about what people actually have to go through such as drugs, money, and violence.

Hip hop could allow students to relate to what they are learning about so they can achieve more.

Classroom culture is out of date, while hip hop culture is more like real life for people. Classroom culture is out of touch with reality because it hasn’t changed in over 100 years. Meanwhile, hip hop is modern and speaks to the youth. School culture is out of touch with the real world, especially Waldorf education. They teach you old things that aren’t in touch with the real world, like knitting. They haven’t even thought about slavery and injustice and it isn’t discussed in class. Hip hop talks about racism and injustice while schools dismiss that.

Hip hop is very fun to listen to, and says important things that are happening in the world. Kids would be more excited to go to school if hip hop was relevant and not frowned upon. If we had rap music in music class, other classes would not be as boring. Some critics of including hip hop in school claim that hip hop glorifies gang violence and bad behavior. If gang violence was discussed in the classroom it wouldn’t be glorified. All rap music is not just about gang violence. There are positive songs that contribute as well.

Rap music should be taught in a classroom because it teaches lessons on real life. People hear about gang violence and how it’s so terrible, and people from schools in areas where there isn’t gang violence may not understand it or may even glorify it. I’ve been around it and don’t glorify it. It needs to be taught and gang violence and gang problems should be talked about so kids don’t make the wrong decision. Not all hip hop is about violence and it’s meant to reflect real life.

By: Rory

January 15th, 2021|

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|
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