A Woman to Know: Alicia Patterson

She was the greatest newspaperman I’ve ever known. — Jack Mann

She was the greatest newspaperman I’ve ever known. — Jack Mann

(image via Wikimedia Commons)

She came up in newspapers. Her great-grandfather owned The Chicago Tribune and her father founded The New York Daily News. So before buying Long Island’s Newsday in 1940, Alicia already knew what it took to print a paper and report the news.

But before she’d begin her career as a publisher, she’d endure a string of family-arranged engagements and marriages (a great story about the second engagement: she sent her father a telegram after news of Alicia’s acceptance found her overseas. “Furious not consulted,” she sent him. The marriage dissolved after just a year).

When she finally found her third husband, Harry Guggenheim, she saw a vision for their marriage (and his fortune): continuing her family’s newspaper legacy. With Alicia at the helm, Harry ran the administrative side of Newsday. Alicia encouraged a culture of curiosity, eventually leading her staff to a Pulitzer Prize win in 1954.

Just 10 years later, she passed away following stomach surgery. Harry commissioned Joan Miró to paint a mural in his wife’s honor. Today, the Alicia Patterson Prize awards grants to mid-career journalists, as specified in her will.

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