While coffee was rationed at home, Maggie Higgins was winning a Pulitzer
Updated: Nov 27
The U.S. War Department considered coffee to be an essential element of the troops' diet--lifting morale, keeping them alert for night time combat and used as a therapeutic in the field by medics. The army requisitioned 10 times more coffee in 1942 than they had in the year before Pearl Harbor was attacked which meant that back at home, families were asked to stretch their coffee supplies by reusing brewed grounds.
We can only assume that Maggie Higgins was getting the coffee she needed as she competed to "get the scoop" in the male dominated world of wartime journalism. The rule that barred women correspondents from reporting from the combat zone didn't keep her from jumping in a jeep headed behind enemy lines, putting her in position to be the reporter on site as Dachau was liberated. She went on to cover the war in Korea in a way that few other reporters did--from the center of combat.
In her new biography, Fierce Ambition, Jennet Conant chronicles Higgins' achievements and explores her motivations. In an NPR interview Conant recently said that although the journalist opened doors for women, she never wanted to be distinguished for her gender. "She won the Pulitzer for her daring dispatches, and the Pulitzer committee noted that she won it under extraordinary, difficult circumstances because she was a woman. But she did not want that to be what she was known for. She wanted to be seen as a good newspaper man, not woman."
Truly, Maggie Higgins belongs on the WWC Wild Women billboard!