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FITZGERALD, ALICE MARTHA PARSONS

FITZGERALD, ALICE MARTHA PARSONS (1860–1910). Alice Fitzgerald, journalist, was born in Washington County, Iowa, in February 1860, the daughter of Robert and Lucy (Draper) Parsons. Her father was a physician. Alice was educated in Iowa schools, then attended college in New York. She was married briefly to a man named Wood; the couple had a daughter before his death. In 1879 she married Hugh Nugent Fitzgerald, a news reporter. Through her husband, who eventually became managing editor of both the Dallas Morning News and the Dallas Times Herald, Mrs. Fitzgerald developed her own interest in journalism. When the family moved to Dallas in 1889 she began regular contributions to several local newspapers and other publications. She later became society editor of both major Dallas papers.

In 1895 Alice Fitzgerald founded Beau Monde, a weekly society tabloid. As editor and publisher she used her paper to increase the level of sophistication in Dallas society by relating the news and interests of its socially elite women. Although the publication could be arbitrary, flowery, and flamboyant, it was considered to contain strong and accurate reporting and was later seen as one of the city's best printed historical records from the turn-of-the-century era. In addition to standard society news, the paper included editorial comments on national and international events, largely written by Hugh Fitzgerald, and a directory advertising when socialites would be at home for callers. Mrs. Fitzgerald occasionally wandered into other areas such as sports with mixed results, as when she reported on a golf tournament that featured a socialite "gracefully swinging her caddy" on the links. She also used her paper to discourage improper behavior, including spitting tobacco on sidewalks and streetcars, which she believed deserving of punishment by imprisonment. Her paper lasted until 1913 and successfully contributed to Dallas society.

Alice Fitzgerald was a member of the Episcopal Church. She died after a sudden illness in Dallas on December 13, 1910, and was survived by her husband, one daughter from her first marriage, one daughter and one son from her marriage to Fitzgerald, and several siblings. She is buried in Oakland Cemetery in Dallas. She died a wealthy woman and left her property to her husband and children; many years later, after the death of her eldest daughter, a suit was filed over her estate, which was valued at $750,000 and included several downtown Dallas properties.

BIBLIOGRAPHY: 

Dallas Morning News, December 14, 1910. Dallas Times Herald, June 14, 1950, November 25, 1951, March 30, 1969. Vertical Files, Dolph Briscoe Center for American History, University of Texas at Austin.

Debbie Mauldin Cottrell

Citation

The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this article.

Debbie Mauldin Cottrell, "FITZGERALD, ALICE MARTHA PARSONS," Handbook of Texas Online (http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/ffizj), accessed April 24, 2014. Uploaded on June 12, 2010. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.