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Furman, Bess (1894–1969)

Furman, Bess (1894–1969)

American newspaper reporter. Born in Nebraska on December 2, 1894; died in 1969; one of five children of a journalist; married Robert B. Armstrong, Jr. (a reporter), 1932; children: twins, Ruth Eleanor and Robert Furman.

The daughter of a journalist, Bess Furman was born in 1894 and spent her early career as a schoolteacher before landing her first job with a Nebraska newspaper. Her coverage of the 1928 presidential election brought her to the attention of the Associated Press, who hired her just months before the stock-market crash of 1929. Furman married Robert B. Armstrong, Jr., a fellow reporter, in 1932, and returned to Nebraska after the birth of her twins at age 41. Taking advantage of the job openings that materialized for women during World War II, she joined the Office of War Information. In 1945, she was hired by The New York Times, working out of its Washington bureau until 1961. Not quite ready for retirement at age 67, Furman worked as an executive in press relations for the newly formed Department of Health, Education, and Welfare during the 1960s.

Bess Furman covered the White House from the time of the Hoover administration and knew every prominent woman of her time, including first ladies. Her position with the Associated Press gave her particular access to Eleanor Roosevelt , who was especially amicable to women of the press. "To my continuous astonishment, I found myself riding in the White House car," Furman recalled in her autobiography Washington By-Line (1949), "lunching at the White House table, receiving Easter lilies from the White House green houses, carrying the cards of the President and Mrs. Roosevelt." Furman also authored White House Profile (1951).


Furman, Bess. Washington By-Line: The Personal History of a Newspaperwoman. NY: Alfred A. Knopf, 1949.

Weatherford, Doris. American Women's History. NY: Prentice Hall, 1994.

Barbara Morgan , Melrose, Massachusetts

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