A Pennsylvania Pioneer!
According to Ms. Sandra Hill, “Rebecca Gross of Lock Haven is a pioneer”¹. Long before women were prominent in the newspaper/reporting business, Rebecca worked for and subsequently ran a newspaper office. “The 80-year old Gross was one of the state’s first female newspaper editors, a role she played for almost 50 years at the Lock Haven Express from the time she was 26 years old in 1931 until her 1970 retirement2 .” Her newspaper career started as a senior in high school, working at the Clinton County Times for $5 a week. During her college years she worked at the Lock Haven Express in the summer and on holiday breaks.
Among her numerous “firsts” and accomplishments, Hill notes that Ms. Gross helped found the Pennsylvania Women’s Press Association, received a prestigious Nieman Fellowship to Harvard and was President of the PA Society of Newspaper Editors. During World War II she was a Lieutenant Senior Grade in the U.S. Navy. A car accident in 1954 resulted in the loss of both legs, but Rebecca continued to distinguish herself in significant ways despite her handicap.
When the Project Team met Ms. Gross in 1985, we were impressed with her vast knowledge of local newspapers and their history. She was a gentle, unassuming lady; one sensed her greatness, as it were, but it was many years later that we discovered her significant and cutting edge accomplishments. And although she walked with a cane, we never suspected then that her legs had been lost in a car accident – so elegant was her bearing.
Much has been written about Rebecca Gross and the important role she played in the world of newspapers. For additional information and the recognition she has received, particularly from Lock Haven University, Editor Lou Bernard and others, visit the web sites below.
¹Hill, Sandra. “Gutsy’ Newspaperwoman blazed new trails,” Centre Daily Times, Special to the Times, Sunday, October 20, 1985, pp. B-1, B-2.
2Bernard, Lou. “Rebecca Gross, A lady of honor and bravery,” The Express, September 24, 2011, http://www.lockhaven.com/page/content.detail/id/534143.html (Accessed January 8, 2013).
Contacts with Rebecca Gross as documented on our Master Card File:
5/24/85 – I [Becky] called Rebecca. She has lots of papers. Will call me with a list. She did a history of Clinton County titles for the Lock Haven Express, March 1, 1982? 100th Anniversary Edition. Try to find.
I sent her our Clinton County “Needs” list.
6/6/85 – I called Rebecca. She found some of what we needed. Quid Nunc
Mill Hall Times
6/7/85 – Site visit. Left at 9:15 am; arrived 10:30am; lunch 12:30-1:30 pm; left Gross at 1:40 pm; got back at 2:40 pm. [Directions are on verso of card]
6/12/85 – Letter to Rebecca Gross from Becky Wilson following site visit
6/17/85 – We returned her paper (there’s a note written on the letter)]
12/12/85 – Sent Christmas card
Partial Journal Entries
Friday, May 24, 1985
… Called Rebecca Gross (Lock Haven)…
…Sent Rebecca Gross Clinton County “Needs” list.
Thursday June 6, 1985
…Becky also called Miss R. Gross in Lock Haven who had just written us telling of the 3 Lock Haven newspapers she had which were listed on our Clinton Co. “Needs” list!!
Becky made appt. to go to Lock Haven tomorrow (10:30am) to see her papers.
Friday, June 7, 1985
…9:15am left office for Lock Haven to visit Miss Rebecca Gross – first stopped by [Library] Receiving to pick up letter from her – Miss Gross had several Clinton Co. “Needs”.
Arrived at Miss Gross’s at 10:33am – got crossed-up and lost several times. Older lady, 70s, handicapped. Newspapers were located in her basement.
She had many Clinton Co. titles which we had already cataloged from, so for these we just completed LDRs.
Found 5 titles which we had not seen before.
Listed in Rossell, but NOT ID’d – Daily Quid Nunc
NOT IN ROSSELL – Logansville Democrat and Clinton County Advertiser (German)
Listed but not ID’d – Mill Hall Times
Listed but we hadn’t seen before – Clinton Dispatch
NOT IN ROSSELL – Valley Chief (Loganton, Pa.)
Went out to eat at Second Cup – Miss Gross very interesting person to talk to – was editor of Lock Haven Express, began working for them in 1921.
The other rare title found at Rebecca’s basement was the Valley Chief from Loganton, Clinton County, Pa. Rebecca held the only surviving issue dating June 8, 1894.
The Valley Chief was published weekly by D. Scott Currin.
Source: Chronicling America
Letter to Rebecca Gross from Becky following our Site Visit in June…
We continue to feel privileged that we met this great lady and were able to enjoy her company for a brief time.
“Thanks for your card. I’m glad the work goes on and wish you all kinds of luck with that – and everything else- on through this New Year and beyond.” –Becky Gross
Other Sources on or about Rebecca Gross:
Google Search: Rebecca Gross Newspaper http://www.lockhaven.com/page/content.detail/id/534143.html
Google search: Rebecca Gross Lock Haven: