Cowan fought generals and editors to become one of the first women credentialed to cover World War II
During my Nieman year, I spent Spring break in Harpers Ferry, a town of 300 in West Virginia. I went there looking for traces of Ruth Cowan, the World War II correspondent with whom I was obsessed and after whom my Nieman fellowship was named. There I knelt in front of her grave, and I touched her typewriter.
It was a cold morning when I softly pushed the keys after putting the type-bars back into place. The letters “Underwood” on top were almost white after years of dust. There were pockets of cobwebs around the edges. I barely could move the 28-pound typewriter as I inspected it for the first time.
The typewriter sat by the window in a white house in the woods just outside Harpers Ferry. Its owner is now Carol Gallant, one of Cowan’s neighbors. She is one of the few people left who knew Cowan, who had few relatives, married at 56, and never had children.