Hen Coop (the women's page?)

Bapopik at AOL.COM Bapopik at AOL.COM
Wed May 31 23:02:30 UTC 2006

I just added "hen coop" to my web page, but the Google ads have  nothing to 
do with women. "Hen Coop" was the women's page of the NY Evening  Journal in 
1898. See the WSJ story below (Google News).
HDAS has "hen coop" from only 1900, and the only definition is "Stu., a  
women's domitory." Can't we do better than Dialect Notes?
HDAS has "henhouse" from 1889 (1785 in brackets), but again it means either  
"women's residence" or "women's prison."
Was "hen coop" ever newspaper slang for women's page writers?
21 May 2006, Wall Street Journal:
One spring day in 1898, Marie Manning  was sitting in the "hen coop" -- slang 
for the women's department -- of the New  York Evening Journal when her 
editor walked in carrying three letters from  readers seeking personal advice. 
Would Ms. Manning have any use for such letters  on the women's page?
Hen Coop (the women's page) & the first advice column
“The Hen Coop” column began on July 20, 1898 in the New York Evening  
Journal. It was a women’s page and the first women’s “advice column,” like  an 
early “Dear Abby” or “Ann Landers.”  
Questions were answered by “Beatrice Fairfax,” originally Marie Manning and  
later other writers. 
“Hen coop” or “hen house” was slang for a women’s residence. It is not 
clear  if all women’s pages were called “hen coops,” or just the section of The  
Evening  Journal.
Marie  Manning (January 22, 1872—November 28, 1945) was a newspaper columnist 
and  novelist in the early 20th century. She wrote the first newspaper advice 
column,  Dear Beatrice Fairfax, in 1898, the precursor to modern versions 
such as Dear  Abby and Ann Landers.
Manning began writing as a columnist for the  New York World in 1896 at the “
space rate” of $5 per week. After being granted  an exclusive interview with 
the President of the United States, Grover  Cleveland, she was promoted to 
permanent staff and her salary was raised to $30  per week. When the paper’s 
Editor moved to the New York Evening Journal in 1898,  she followed at his 
invitation. There she collaborated with two other women to  create a women’s page 
entitled the “Hen Coop”. 
Dear Beatrice Fairfax
During the same year, the Hen Coop received  three letters from readers who 
sought advice about personal situations in their  lives. Manning suggested a 
new column exclusively used for giving personal  advice. The column was named 
Dear Beatrice Fairfax at her suggestion, named  after Dante’s Beatrice and her 
own family’s country home in Fairfax County,  Virginia. The column began on 
July 20, 1898 as the first advice column in the  United States. 
Her advice was an immediate success, and received so many letters that the  
United States Post Office soon refused delivery of them and the Journal has to  
retrieve the letters themselves. Manning’s common sense advice was imitated  
nationwide thanks to its tremendous popularity. However, Manning’s efforts 
went  largely unrewarded and her payrate and status remained low at the paper. 
She  eventually resigned.
30 November 1945, New York  Times, pg. 23:
Mrs. H.E. Gasch, 70, Originated
Fames Advice to the  Lovelorn
Under Nom de Plume in 1898 
WASHINGTON, Nov. 29—Mrs. Marie Manning Gasch, who formerly for years wrote an 
 advice-to-the-loverlorn column in The New York Evening Journal under the 
name  Beatrice Fairfax, died yesterday of a heart attack at her home  here.
Her common sense motto was: “Dry your eyes, roll up your  sleeves and dig for 
a practical solution.”
Miss Manning next moved  to The Evening Journal, where in 1898, with two 
other women reporters, she was  penned in an obscure corner, known as the Hen 
Coop. They did “the women’s angle”  on murder and celebrities. 
One day Mr. Brisbane, then The Journal’s editor, brought to the Hen Coop  
three letters, each seeking advice on a tragic personal problem. He wanted them  
answered on the women’s page. Miss Manning suggested a separate department to  
answer such letters. Mr. Brisbane approved the idea, and thus on July 20, 
1898,  Miss Manning made her debut as Beatrice Fairfax, a name she compounded out 
of  Dante’s Beata Beatrix and of Fairfax County, Va., where the Manning 
family owned  “a run-down place of sorts.” 
* * *

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