Date of Award

Spring 2019

Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)

First Advisor

Dr. Mary Beadle


The profession of public relations is defined as a “strategic communication process that builds mutually beneficial relationships between organizations and their publics” (PRSA, n.d., para. 5). The profession was founded by men to refute criticism of big businesses during the rise of muckrakers known today as investigative journalists. Ivy Lee who wrote the first press release and Edward Bernays who developed the first press kit were significant influences in establishing the profession of modern public relations (Rise of the Image Men, 2019). Additionally the founding involved significant moments such as establishment of the Committee on Public Information (CPI) during World War I and propaganda. Since then public relations has transitioned significantly to an industry largely comprised of women (Why Are There So Many Women In PR?, n.d.). Scholars have suggested that the sparse coverage of women in public relations history should be adjusted to reflect the demographic that represents it (Kern-Foxworth, 1989). After carefully examining the history of public relations, this essay seeks to provide an objective account of the establishment of modern public relations. The paper discusses the lives of rarely mentioned significant female public relations contributors, Ida Tarbell, Vira B. Whitehouse, Doris Fleischman, Jane Stewart, Muriel Fox and Inez Kaiser. The research obtained for this paper provides discussion on the scarcity of women in public relations history to draw conclusions on the issue’s present day persistence. Finally, the paper attempts to justify the inclusion of women in public relations’ history in future narratives.