Today is the birthday of Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist Ellen Goodman (books by this author), born Ellen Holtz in Newton, Massachusetts (1941). Goodman studied history at Radcliffe, and in 1963 she landed her first job — as a researcher for Newsweek. In those days, all of the magazine’s journalists were men; women were only hired as researchers, and were only ever noticed if they made a mistake. But she discovered that she liked journalism. She went to work for the Detroit Free Press in 1965, and the Boston Globe in 1967. In 1974, she began writing the syndicated column that earned her the Pulitzer for Distinguished Commentary in 1980. She wrote about civil rights and social change.
She published her last column on New Year’s Day, 2010. She wrote: “I began writing my column when my daughter was 7, and I leave as my grandson turns 7. I began writing about Gerald Ford and end writing about Barack Obama. I began on a typewriter, transmitting columns on a Xerox Telecopier. Now I have a MacBook on my desk and an iPhone in my pocket.
“I celebrated my lucky midlife marriage in these pages, sent my daughter to college, welcomed my grandchildren, said farewell to my mother. I upheld Thanksgiving traditions in this space and celebrated them with a family that evolved far beyond my grandparents’ idea of tradition. I wrote about values and pushed back against those who believe they own the patent on this word.
“It has been a great gift to make a living trying to make sense out of the world around me. That is as much a disposition as an occupation.”