CELEBRATING 25 YEARS OF STORIES
Nina Mason Pulliam’s legacy
In Nina Mason Pulliam’s family of nine, words were very important. They read books, wrote stories and poems, and created plays for entertainment. She was taught by her older sister in a one-room schoolhouse. Mrs. Pulliam did so well in school that she skipped to high school right after sixth grade. There, she joined the basketball team and learned the importance of education and helping those in need. As a teen, she was diagnosed with tuberculosis and traveled on her own to Arizona to recover from her illness. After returning to Indiana and completing high school, she began studying journalism at Franklin College and at Indiana University, and later studied at the University of New Mexico.
After college, Mrs. Pulliam became a reporter for a small local magazine. When the magazine she worked for folded during the Great Depression, she took a writing job in Lebanon, Indiana, for an ambitious publisher named Eugene C. Pulliam. Mrs. Pulliam was the founding secretary-treasurer and a director of Central Newspapers, Inc., which Eugene established in 1934. They married in 1941.
During World War II, Mrs. Pulliam served on an advisory committee. This committee was composed of civilians who were appointed by the Secretary of War to provide recommendations on war matters affecting the community. In 1945, she received this certificate for her service. Nina had a deep admiration for military service members and later embarked on a 35,000-mile journey to chronicle post-war Europe.
A storyteller at heart, Nina Mason Pulliam authored several books. In 1955, she published her longest book – “I Traveled a Lonely Land” – about her four-month, solo trip to Australia, New Zealand, and the islands of Fiji. During their marriage, the Pulliams traveled abroad extensively as a husband-and-wife team. They were among the first Americans to visit and write about post-World War II conditions in Europe. Over 11 years, Nina’s articles were published in newspapers throughout North America and eventually compiled into seven books.
Mrs. Pulliam was the first woman to earn a private pilot’s license in Indiana and a member of the first cohort of women admitted to Sigma Delta Chi, now the Society of Professional Journalists. The Pulliams often personally supported many nonprofit organizations in Arizona and Indiana, including the payroll of many employees who otherwise would have lost their jobs. Upon Mr. Pulliam’s death in 1975, she served as The Arizona Republic and The Phoenix Gazette publisher until 1978 and the CNI president until 1979. She turned her attention to her philanthropy work in Arizona and Indiana and directed that a trust be established to support her varied interests in education, animals, nature, and Native American art and culture for 50 years after her death.