She faced a lot of rejection from many publications until she went into the offices of the newspaper New York World, which was being run by Joseph Pulitzer.
She told Joseph she wanted to write a story about immigration, but he denied that and gave her an assignment that would change her life.
He wanted Nellie to write a piece about Blackwell’s Island, one of the most notorious insane asylums in New York.
In order to get an in-depth story, Nellie pretended to suffer from a severe mental illness so she would be admitted into the hospital in 1887.
For ten days, 23-year-old Nellie witnessed and suffered some of the same abuses and terrible conditions the asylum patients had to deal with daily.
She took into account all of her experiences so that by the time she was released, she could write her series of articles under the title “Ten Days in the Madhouse” for New York World.
Nellie’s dedication to her story on the asylum gained her tremendous recognition, and it didn’t take long for her to become one of the most famous journalists in the country.
Her exposé shed light on the mistreatment of asylum patients and led the city to put more funding into its mental health institutions.
Afterward, Nellie took on and came up with more incredible assignments. She wrote many investigative stories that shed light on corruption.
In 1888, she convinced her editor at New York World to let her write a travel piece in which she wanted to take a trip around the world to see if she could go around the world in 80 days, just like the title of Jules Verne’s popular 1873 fiction novel.
Nellie documented her journey and had readers guessing how long it would take her. New York World published daily updates on her journey, and she completed her worldwide trip in just 72 days.