Sesquicentennial Series: McLaughlin, Trailblazing Journalist and Educator
LEXINGTON, Ky. (Nov. 21, 2012) — In celebration of the University of Kentucky's upcoming sesquicentennial in 2015, the 33rd of 150 weekly installments on the university remembers the accomplishments of journalist and educator Marguerite McLaughlin.
McLaughlin was born in Lexington, Ky., on Sept. 30, 1882. She was a journalist educator at UK, where she had earned her bachelor's degree in 1903.
A leader in the newspaper business, McLaughlin was one of the first, if not the first woman, to handle general reporting assignments for a newspaper in the South. She worked for the Lexington Herald as a drama and music critic. She also handled murder cases and served as farm editor from 1917 to 1918.
McLaughlin was the first woman teacher of journalism in the United States and she trained many well-known journalists including Joe Creason; George Michler; Thornton Connell, of the Louisville Courier-Journal; Neil Plummer, former head of the UK School of Journalism (now the School of Journalism and Telecommunications); Don Whitehead, Pulitzer prize-winning AP press reporter; Governor Keen Johnson; and Senators Earle Clements and Tom Underwood.
Outside the classroom, McLaughlin served as executive secretary of the UK Alumni Association during each World War. During World War II, she endeared herself to military alumni by sending the Kentucky Kernel to wherever they were stationed. She also served 20 years as president of the Lexington Alumni Club, and 30 years as a member of the association's executive committee.
In the early 1950s, Pope Pius XII honored McLaughlin with the Pro Ecclesia et Pontifice Medal, the highest award which can be given to a Catholic laywoman. McLaughlin received the Alumni Association's Alma Magna Mater Award in 1950, and in 1959, the Marguerite McLaughlin room in the Enoch Grehan Journalism Building was dedicated along with a portrait of the educator, which hangs in the room still today.
McLaughlin retired from UK after 38 years of teaching. She died Nov. 25, 1961. She was named to the university's Hall of Distinguished Alumni in 1980.
This story on UK's history is presented by UK Special Collections. Special Collections is home to UK Libraries' collection of rare books, Kentuckiana, the Archives, the Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History, the King Library Press and the Wendell H. Ford Public Policy Research Center. The mission of Special Collections is to locate and preserve materials documenting the social, cultural, economic and political history of the Commonwealth of Kentucky.
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