No News Here

Newsmakers? Did you have a female ancestor who made the news? Why? Was she famous or notorious? Did she appear in the social column?

I’ve been in the news quite a bit, usually because I’m being mouthy about some issue or cause or something – like helping poor people or fighting discrimination. And yeah there was that one time I was looking for an apartment that rented to dog owners. So while I’m not necessarily on speed dial, I am “oft-quoted” so to speak.

So this question through me for a loop. My great-grandfather (on my father’s side) was a newspaperman – his name was Gil Remley and he ended his career as the Executive Sports Editor for the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Prior to that, he had worked for the Sun, the Press and other outlets. So I’ve always thought of my blogging as a modern day tribute to his efforts. He died long before I came into the world so I guess I’ll have to wait to find out if he agrees.

But my female ancestors? Hmmm. Other than obituaries, wedding announcements and a few random listings from the 40’s related to their son’s military exploits – nothing. I can’t say for sure that one of my aunt’s wasn’t featured in a lifestyle section somewhere, but I can’t find it if they were.

I did find a 1913 piece in the Pittsburgh Press written by “Edna Kerr” – a little love story anecdote. Now Edna Kerr was the name of my-great grandmother, but I don’t know if she was married in 1913 or not. The thing that struck me is that her character was named Elizabeth and Edna’s birth name was Elizabeth. But there were a lot of Kerr’s so who knows. There’s no one left to ask.

One of my grandmother’s was a sales clerk and then worked in aunt’s restaurant. Her mother had worked in the millinery department at Kaufmann’s prior to married and then stayed at home (she was the wife of the newspaperman.) Her mother-in-law (Edna Kerr, in fact) had various jobs, but nothing that anyone really remembers.

His Girl Friday
His Girl Friday

My other grandmother did clerical work her whole life. She worked before marriage and then stayed home until the kids were grown. She returned to work after my grandfather died, mostly for something to do. Her own mother had grown up working in a family retail shop on the South Side (maybe a candy store) and then became a farm wife. Her mother-in-law was relatively well-off and did not work. I suspect I could find some society items for her if I tried hard enough.

Did any of them write? Not to my knowledge – I have not heard of diaries or journals or anything like that. Did they do anything newsworthy – well, again, I don’t know. They survived some difficult things. Jane died at age 80 in a terrible fire in Baldwin so her death made the news.

How could all these generations be so unreported? Because the news was controlled by and consumed by men? Because the ordinary everyday matters didn’t … matter?

And what makes me so different? I don’t know. But my father often compares me to my great-grandfather even though I don’t pay attention to sports very much. But trying to connect my passion for blogging and media to my female ancestors? I can only say that my mother read the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette and the Pittsburgh Press and the McKeesport Daily News every day, cover to cover. She also always watched the local news and the national news. And she wrote letters to her Congressman. Her mother (my Grandma Val) occasionally told me not to take the right to vote for granted because her own mother had to wait a long time to obtain it. My other grandma was a die hard Republican, but very committed to pro-choice values.

They each agitated in their own ways. I guess that’s something we have in common.


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