Bess Whitehead Scott
Special Pioneer Spirit Award
Bess Whitehead Scott talked her way into a job as a news reporter at the Houston Post in 1915, when male reporters covered news events and female reporters wrote only for society pages. She rationalized that men would be at war within a year and women would be needed to fill in their positions, so she was given a two-week trial at $6 a week. This was the beginning of Ms. Scott’s journalism career that lasted for over 77 years.
Being the first female reporter for the Post was only one of Ms. Scott’s many accomplishments. During the 40 years as a newspaper journalist she served as amusement editor, school editor, religious editor, news reporter, city hall reporter and columnist. She covered the Galveston Floods of 1915 and the Democratic Convention of 1928, and wrote about newsmakers such as Eleanor Roosevelt, Lyndon B. Johnson and Clark Gable.
Ms. Scott’s creative writing gifts served her well. At the age of six, she wrote her first poem to her mother; later she won literary awards for her poetry and essays. In 1917, at the age of 27, she spent a year in Hollywood writing publicity tear sheets and scripts for silent movies. Several of her “two-reelers” were produced starring Douglas Fairbanks, Sr., and Marguerite Clark. Just out of college in 1912, Ms. Scott taught high school English and Latin in Center, Texas. From 1931 to 1942, while working full time as a reporter, Scott also taught journalism at Milby High School in Houston and taught adult night classes in journalism and creative writing. Under her guidance, the Milby school newspaper earned top honors in the state for excellence; and the “Scott Scribbler,” the writing group that formed from her evening classes, was featured in the Christian Science Monitor.
Scott is the author of three communication textbooks. Her autobiography, You Meet Such Interesting People, was published by the Texas A&M Press in 1989. Bess Whitehead Scott’s work influenced generations of Texans and expanded career possibilities for thousands of Texas women.