Title page for ETD etd-0610103-102401

Type of Document Master's Thesis
Author Juban, Angie Pitts
Author's Email Address apitts@lsu.edu
URN etd-0610103-102401
Title Insiders: Louisiana Journalists Sallie Rhett Roman, Helen Grey Gilkison, Iris Turner Kelso
Degree Master of Arts (M.A.)
Department History
Advisory Committee
Advisor Name Title
Gaines M. Foster Committee Chair
Charles J. Shindo Committee Member
John Rodrigue Committee Member
  • women
  • journalism
  • louisiana
  • politics
  • gender roles
Date of Defense 2003-04-01
Availability unrestricted
Sallie Rhett Roman, Helen Grey Gilkison and Iris Turner Kelso were three women journalists in Louisiana, active in consecutive time periods from 1891 to 1996. Their work brings up five particular questions. First, Why did these women start working and how did they negotiate public employment? Second, how did they balance the relationship between work and home since they did find employment outside of the home? Third, how did they fit into their contemporary image of women and journalists? Fourth, how did they use written language to portray a particular voice to the reader for a particular purpose? Fifth, did they choose to cover specifically male or female topics in their articles?

Answering these questions reveals that these three women challenged traditional roles for women in different ways. Sallie Rhett Roman, wrote from 1891 to 1909, had to negotiate much more strict societal norms for women and portrayed herself as a male writer to her audience. Helen Grey Gilkison, active from the late 1920s to the late 1940s, did not mask her gender but encouraged the idea that she was a member of the political social club with political access. Iris Turner Kelso, working after World War II, portrayed herself as having access to politicians and political events, but only as a way to suggest that she could provide the reader the “straight scoop.” Each woman in her own way created an image of herself as an insider in the political process.

By relying on the image of “insider,” these women did not overtly challenge the political or social system but rather supported it. Kelso was the only one who criticized those in politics and even she did not promote significant change in the political systems of New Orleans or the state of Louisiana.

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