"An excellent job of bringing Ms. Porter into the reader’s life, sharing her successes and challenges, and enlightening us as to the role this woman played in the lives of many women."—New York Journal of Books
"In 1942, the directors of the New York Stock Exchange were disturbed to learn that S. F. Porter, one of the most experienced and prolific financial writers of the day, was, shockingly, a woman. How could this have happened in a sphere that (at that time) was regarded as exclusively male terrain? The perpetrator of that incident—Sylvia Porter—carved a remarkable 60-year career in a realm where only a few women had gone before, laying the groundwork for today’s burgeoning personal finance genre."—Jewish Woman Magazine
"Although now mostly forgotten, back in the 1970s, columnist Sylvia Porter was a household name; putting her moniker on Sylvia Porter's Money Book helped turn the tome into a best seller. Lucht examines Porter's ambiguous legacy as a trailblazing female journalist, personal finance pioneer, and canny businesswoman and self-promoter who eventually tarnished her journalistic reputation by relying too heavily on researchers and ghost writers. Lucht examines Porter's shrewdly constructed (and seemingly contradictory) self-presentation: the so-called "glamour girl of finance" simultaneously subverted and embraced traditional gender norms. She strove to be smart and tough while at the same time stereotypically feminine and even coquettish. Lucht argues that by flattering (and sometimes flirting with) men, Porter was able to gain entrée into the male-dominated field of mid-20th-century journalism as, paradoxically, "one of the boys." While refusing to whitewash Porter's shortcomings as a feminist and a journalist, Lucht paints a picture of a complex, important figure in American publishing. An interesting and worthy addition to any academic collection with a strong focus on journalism."—Choice
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.
Tracy Lucht is assistant professor of journalism in the Greenlee School of Journalism and Communication at Iowa State University.
6 x 9, 248 pages, 7 black and white illustrations