by Shari Randall
As the years passed, I occasionally stumbled upon articles about the authors who made up that group, especially the first ghostwriter, Mildred Wirt Benson. Mildred and the other “Carolyn Keenes” inspired generations of young readers, especially girls. These authors gave us an independent female protagonist without parental interference or control, plus a jazzy blue roadster. I believe Mildred and her co-ghosts were one of the most influential groups of women in America (and if my FB feed is any indication, the world). Many women who broke glass ceilings have spoken of their hours reading Nancy Drew, women including presidential candidates and Supreme Court justices. My years as a children’s librarian have taught me that children’s world views are shaped by the stories they read.
- Her typewriter is in the collection of the Smithsonian’s Museum of American History.
- She was an avid traveler and adventurer who trained as a pilot, traveling to South American archaeological sites before they were opened to tourists.
- In 1927, she was the first student, man or woman, to earn a master’s in journalism at the University of Iowa.
- She worked as a journalist for 50 years, mostly on the courthouse beat for the Toledo Blade.
- Her role as Carolyn Keene was kept under wraps until researchers uncovered the story in the 1980s.