Martha Rayne

Martha Rayne

Martha Rayne

Inducted in 1998

associate editor, Detroit Free Press

“Give strength and beauty to the simplest things you describe; use a lead pencil and eraser, and strike out any sentence that is not a picture.” Journalists a century later should take note. Born in Halifax, Nova Scotia, in 1836, Martha Rayne began her newspaper career in Boston during the early 1860’s. After brief stops in Massachusetts, Ohio and Illinois, she reached Chicago, freelancing for the Chicago Tribune under the pen name “Vic.” In 1870, Rayne became editor of the Chicago Magazine of Fashion, Music and Home Reading and a Sunday writer for the Chicago Tribune. She reported the wedding of President Ulysses S. Grant’s son, Frederick, and interviewed Mary Todd Lincoln when she was confined to a mental institution at Batavia, Illinois. Mrs. Lincoln had refused to talk to male reporters, and Rayne’s story led to her release in the late 1860’s. By 1878, Rayne had moved to Detroit to work for the Detroit Free Press on “The Household” section, the first newspaper supplement exclusively for women. Her interviews included President Grover Cle~elan` And poets Henry Wadsworth Longfellow and John Greenleaf Whittier. In 1886, Rayne, a well-known novelist, established the world’s first school of journalism in Detroit. It closed around 1900. When Rayne died in August 11, 1911, in Oak Park, Illinois, the Detroit Free Press headline read, “Achieved Success in Journalistic World Where Men Had Failed to ‘Make Good.'”