Bromley, Dorothy Dunbar (1896–1986)

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Bromley, Dorothy Dunbar (1896–1986)

American editor and writer. Born Dorothy Ewing Dunbar on a farm near Ottawa, Illinois, on December 25, 1896; died of pneumonia on January 3, 1986, in Pennsylvania; third of four children of Helen Elizabeth (Ewing) and Charles E. Dunbar; attended Hyde Park High School in Chicago; graduated cum laude, Northwestern University, B.A., 1917; married Donald C. Bromley, August 1920 (divorced early 1920s).

Longtime editor of a substantially transformed "Women's Page" at the New York Herald Tribune, Dorothy Dunbar Bromley spent a peripatetic childhood. Her father, unsatisfied with each chosen occupation, moved the family from one small town in Illinois to another, before moving to Toledo, Ohio, then on to Chicago. Following her graduation from Northwestern, Bromley enlisted in the French-speaking women's telephone unit attached to the signal corps; she performed her wartime duties in Atlantic City.

While visiting a sister in Detroit, Bromley was hired as secretary to the editor at the Detroit Free Press and was given an opportunity to write reviews. Following her marriage, she and her husband moved to New York where she took a job as reader and editor with Henry Holt and Company (1921–25), until she resigned in order to freelance (1926–34). Bromley's first published article, "Ethics of Alimony," appeared in Harper's magazine. Thus began a series of commentaries on women, including "Feminist—New Style," "What Risk Motherhood" (with the input of Margaret Sanger ), and "Diogenes Looks at the Ladies." During a 1932 sojourn in Europe, Bromley interviewed Léon Blum, Irène Joliot-Curie , and French feminist leaders.

Her first book, Birth Control: Its Use and Misuse (1934), contributed to her hiring as columnist on the women's page of the New York World-Telegram (1935–38); while there, she collaborated with Florence Haxton Britten on Youth and Sex (1938). Bromley then signed on as columnist with the New York Post (1940–42); in 1942, she was invited to edit the Women's Page of the Sunday edition of the New York Herald Tribune. The page was never the same. Replacing club news with national issues, Bromley championed minimum wage for store clerks, asked pointed questions about prisoner of war camps in the U.S., reported on famine in India, and championed equality for racial and religious minorities. Typically, she was the first to interview Lillian Smith about her controversial new book Strange Fruit. Bromley considered Smith a woman of great courage.