August 16th, 2022
Eddlman Reed combated ignorance and misconceptions as Cherokee journalist
WVU professor discusses journalistic pioneer’s contributions in JCLS
Ora Eddlman Reed was a turn-of-the-century journalist who "pulled no punches. . . while pointing out the facts as they existed" with respect the beauty and culture of Cherokee women, according to West Virginia University Professor Dr. Cari Carpenter.
Carpenter, serving as the latest presenter in Garrett College’s Joan Crawford Lecture Series, spoke last Wednesday about how Eddlman Reed’s activism coincided with the dramatic expansion of periodical publications.
"There was a tremendous growth in periodicals – there were far more readers of periodicals than novels during this time frame [late 19th and early 20th century]," explained Carpenter. "This growth of readership was due in large part to increased literacy rates, a strong economy, technological improvements and the emergence of the national railway system."
Eddlman Reed received her foundational journalism experience while working in her family’s daily newspaper, the Muskogee Morning Times, which was based in Indian Territory that was located in the future State of Oklahoma. She then became editor of Twin Territories: The Indian Magazine, in 1898, which provided her with a forum for "challenging assumptions" about the Cherokee tribe, especially its women.
Carpenter said one vehicle Eddlman Reed used for this task was development of one of the earliest advice columns, in which "she began a career of correcting ignorant white men of their fantasies of Native American women."
Interestingly, one of white male readers’ regular misconceptions was the existence of a widespread system for the sale and purchase of Native American brides. Readers inquiring hopefully about this system were unceremoniously corrected in Reed’s advice column.
"I don’t know of any women who do not have better sense than to advertise themselves in that manner," Carpenter quoted regarding Eddlman Reed’s reply to one such reader. "And, no, please don’t send your photograph – your description sufficed."
"She understood her role as an editor to correct inaccurate presentations of American Indian women," remarked Carpenter, who said Eddlman Reed attempted to cast Cherokee women as the beautiful and culturally advanced women they were in reality.
Carpenter said Eddlman Reed’s journalistic contributions included "demonstrating her knowledge of the region as a beautiful land" and serving as an "authoritative female voice" in literary circles.
In1900, just 20 years old, Eddlman Reed became the youngest – and first female – member of the Indian Territory Press Association, eventually serving as the group’s treasurer. She married Charles Reed – a Kansas City journalist and Associated Press correspondent – in 1904, and the couple had two children.
Carpenter, a professor of English, specializes in 19th-century women’s and Native American literature of the United States, as well as ecocriticism and feminist theory.
In honor of the dynamic educator Joan R. Crawford, the Garrett College faculty created the Joan Crawford Lecture Series. Crawford, who died in 2010, served the College community for more than 30 years. After her retirement, Crawford was named Professor Emerita.
Garrett College was named a grant recipient of the American Rescue Plan: Humanities Grants for Libraries, an initiative of the American Library Association (ALA). Made possible with funding from the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) through the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021, grant funding is being used to sponsor the summer lecture series.
For more information, persons may contact Jenny Meslener at 301-387-3022 or email@example.com.