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Extra! Extra! Read All About It!

This article appeared in the Dayton Daily News on October 24, 1992

by Roz Young

             One time and one time only, all the news, all the editorials and all the features of the Dayton Daily News were the work of women. It happened in 1901. The women took over the paper, banishing the male staff members to the pinochle rooms in the Beckel Hotel for the day.

            It wasn't the beginning of a women's movement or a strike on the men's part. A group of women needed money, and they persuaded James M. Cox to let them have their day. It happened this way.

            The land between the Reibold building and the Grant-Deneau building on West Fourth Street is a parking lot now. But once the Young Women's League flourished there in the former home of Dr. P.N. Adams.

            The YWL was an outgrowth of the YWCA. In 1895 the parent organization found it necessary to discontinue the activities for younger women in the organization. Ten of the younger members got together to form their own group, and after enlisting the interest of their friends, on Aug. 26, 1896, in the First U.B. Church, the league was organized, a constitution adopted, and a board of directors appointed. Marie J. Kumler was elected president.

            Three years later the society felt it needed one central building for their classes and the lunchroom. Dr. Adams was asking $23,000 for his home at 24 W. Fourth St., and the board, without any money in its treasury, voted to buy it and raise the money somehow.

            They held a nine-day bazaar in the Kuhns Building and raised $5,000 for the down payment. With it they were able to secure the property and move in. Members and friends provided furnishings.

            One day Charlotte Reeve Conover had a brainstorm. She asked James M. Cox if he would let the league women put out the Dayton Daily News for one day and donate all the proceeds for that day to the league. He agreed.

            Mrs. Conover appointed the staff: Editor-in-chief: Mrs. Frank Conover; city editor: Mrs. Charles H. Kumler; general manager: Mrs. Charles Williams; secretary: Hortense Fogelsong; music: Katherine Houk Talbott; art: Annie Campbell; churches: Mrs. Mary C. Van Ausdale, Marie Durst, Mrs. Carrie Ach; schools: Mrs. Anna M. Shauck; fashion: Mrs. Mary C. Culp; telegraph: Lorena Dill; women's page: Mrs. Eva Best; childrens' page: Mrs. Annie Phelps; clubs: Mrs. Emily Parrott; sports: Isabel Parrott.

            She also appointed 15 reporters to cover the various city offices and departments, hospitals, the jail, the courts and the military.

            March 30, 1901, was the only day in history that the entire editorial staff of the Dayton Daily was composed completely of women. The issue contained 40 pages and contrary to gloomy predictions by the temporarily displaced staff, it went to press on time.

            In addition to the regular news, various celebrities of the day, at the request of Mrs. Conover, sent congratulations, which were published in one section. Contributors among others were Vice President Theodore Roosevelt, William Dan Howells, Helen Miller Gould, Booker T. Washington, Dr. Washington Gladden, Dr. Lyman Abbott and actor Joseph Jefferson.

            "Your membership are all good people and soundly righteous," wrote Mark Twain. "I know it. Otherwise you could not have gotten together that tolerant combination of Protestant, Jew and Catholic. You have all the elements of universal brotherhood but one - the sinner. Mind, he is the largest one of all, and the one that most needs your sympathy and countenance. What you lack to be complete is an abandoned sinner, an old professional. Would I do?"

            "It will be seen," said Mrs. Conover in an editorial, "that the only prominent persons now living who are not contributors to the league edition of the News are Edward VII and Mrs. Carrie Nation."

            Street sales of the special edition were so heavy that the presses ran several hours overtime to supply the demand. When the News accounting department totaled the day's sales and profits, the league received a check for $1,800 for the building fund.

            The league and its early members have long since vanished as has the building and the articulate Mrs. Conover. Her sprightly histories of Dayton and the Miami Valley and early Dayton families, however, still remain on the library bookshelves and appear now and then in second-hand book shops and sales. Her style is polished and humorous. She is worth reading when you get a chance.