Item No: pdcp01077
Title: Vivian Shirley sitting on scaffolding atop the Federal Reserve Bank (under construction)
Additional Title: "Stunt reporter" for the Evening Public Ledger
Historic Street Address:
925 Chestnut Street
Print and Picture Collection
Born Elizabeth Malcolm, in 1898, in Lynchburg, VA, this intrepid “stunt reporter” went by the name of Vivian Shirley, when reporting for Philadelphia’s Evening Public Ledger, from the late-1920s until 1933. Her student degrees from Longwood University (Farmville, VA) and the University of South Carolina prepared her for an academic and literary career, and she did teach and publish poetry and other writings; but she became popular for her adventurous reporting in the Ledger, willing to try anything to make a story interesting.
The caption for this 1929 photograph in the Ledger reads: “VIVIAN SHIRLEY IN ONE OF HER RESTFUL MOMENTS! After reaching the top of the metal scaffolding on the Federal Reserve Bank, 10th and Chestnut Streets, she took her stroll on this plank 150 feet above the street and then decided to rest a bit before walking back."
It should be noted that in 1932, Shirley’s stunts were curtailed by the Ledger, due to concerns that they endangered the paper’s insurance. Shortly thereafter, in 1933, she married her editor, Harry Nason. They moved to New York, where he became an editor for the New York Post, and she did freelance reporting and radio spots for a decade or so. Shirley died in 1987, at the age of 89, her name appearing in an obituary as Vivian Hinternhoff.
This building, by the way, was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1979, and is now part of the Center City campus of the Thomas Jefferson University Hospital. The Philadelphia Fed moved to 10 N. Independence Mall West (N. 6th Street) at Arch Street.
Evening Public Ledger - Photographer