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Exhibit celebrates local journalists who made a difference

March 11, 2003

Three local women journalists are being honored in this months library exhibit celebrating Womens History Month at Austin Peay State University.

Dorothy Dix, Dee Boaz and Paula Wall are recognized in this months exhibit for their advances in the field of journalism for women and the differences they made in the lives of their readers and their communities.
March 11, 2003

Three local women journalists are being honored in this month's library exhibit celebrating Women's History Month at Austin Peay State University.

Dorothy Dix, Dee Boaz and Paula Wall are recognized in this month's exhibit for their advances in the field of journalism for women and the differences they made in the lives of their readers and their communities.

Dorothy Dix, born Elizabeth Merryweather, is known for her down-to-earth, no-nonsense suggestions made to millions of people for more than half a century in her advice column “Dear Dorothy Dix.”

Dix was born in 1861 in Woodstock, Tenn. The daughter of a prominent horse-raising family, Dix wrote her first article for the “New Orleans Picayune” in 1890 and created her first column, “The Sunday Salad,” four years later.

Her personal reflections on life were noticed by Arthur Brisbane, a prominent New York editor for the newspaper “The Journal.” Although originally hired by Brisbane to cover murder trials from a female's perspective, her reflections on the cases and the relationships involved caused many to begin writing back.

In 1916 Dix signed a contract with a syndicate to write an advice column with the question-and-answer format used today. By 1950, Dix's column had reached more than 60 million readers, but her advice for solving problems of daily living were read, followed and passed down for generations.

Dee Boaz, editor of “The Leaf-Chronicle” from 1983-1994 was, in her time, the only female daily newspaper editor in Tennessee and the only non-owner female to ever direct the newspaper since its founding in 1808.

Boaz's leadership and contribution to the Clarksville community are exemplified in the 135 state and national press association awards garnered by “The Leaf-Chronicle” throughout her 11-year tenure as editor. This included Best Column of the Year for her 1984 editorials on her brother's fight with cancer and the angels in his life, and the Ida B. Wells award for exceptional service in race relations. This came about after Boaz ran a series of editorials to recognize the contributions of Dr. Robert T. Burt, a black physician who gained national renown. The columns sparked community interest in marking the site of the Burt Infirmary, Clarksville's first hospital, with an historic plaque.

“She had a sense of the importance of history and culture to Clarksville,” said Dr. Ellen Kanervo, professor of mass communication. “She was really a forerunner in breaking through the glass ceiling of journalism for women. It was a major accomplishment to be a woman editor, let alone such a successful one.”

Austin Peay alumna Paula Wall helped her readers laugh at the foibles of life in her witty syndicated column “Off The Wall,” which ran from 1994 to 2001. She is known for her gift of exploring the everyday issues surrounding human relationships with wit, wisdom and biting sarcasm.

“The strength of Paula's column was her honesty,” said Kanervo. “She let herself be a bit vulnerable and expressed herself through her emotions.” While delving into the everyday irritations of human relationships, Wall's column was valued for its ability to make people laugh at themselves through the characters in her stories.

She was named the “Best Humor Columnist of 1996” by the National Society of Newspaper Columnists and enjoyed the position as Universal Syndicate's 3rd top Internet columnist. She has written two books of humorous essays, “My Love is Free…But the Rest of Me Don't Come Cheap,” which sold out in three weeks, and “If I Were A Man I'd Marry Me.”

The exhibit will be on display throughout the month of March. A reception for the closing of the exhibit is planned for March 27.

For further information, telephone Inga Filippo, associate professor of library administration, at 7381 or Kanervo at 6124.