Sylvia Porter: America’s Original Personal Finance Columnist

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Lucht, Tracy
Lucht, Tracy
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Greenlee School of Journalism and Communication

In 1942, the directors of the New York Stock Exchange met to discuss a problem. The exchange—its air charged with testosterone, its floor scuffed by the frantic paces of men racing one another for shares of the American dream—was off-limits to women. This, it was agreed, was how it should be. However, it had recently become public knowledge that one of New York’s most prolific and respected financial writers, S. F. Porter, was a woman. If Porter trained her eye on the all-male stock exchange, the NYSE might find itself the subject of some unwanted controversy during the electrified "Rosie the Riveter" days of World War II. But should women really be allowed into the stock exchange? The board finally saw its way around the dilemma and voted on a resolution: "Sylvia is one of the boys. We hereby award her honorary pants." Sylvia Porter (1913–1991) was the nation’s first personal finance columnist and one of the most admired women of the twentieth century. In Sylvia Porter: America’s Original Personal Finance Columnist, Lucht traces Porter’s professional trajectory, identifying her career strategies and exploring the role of gender in her creation of a once-unique, now-ubiquitous form of journalism. A pioneer for both male and female journalists, Porter established a genre of newspaper writing that would last into the twenty-first century while carving a space for women in what had been an almost exclusively male field. She began as an oddity—a woman writing about finance during the Great Depression—and rose to become a nationally recognized expert, revered by middle-class readers and consulted by presidents. As the first biography of Sylvia Porter, this book makes an important contribution to the history of women and the media.


This introduction and table of contents is from Sylvia Porter: America’s Original Personal Finance Columnist (2013). Posted with permission.