1893 - 1961

"The most destructive element in the human mind is fear. Fear creates aggressiveness."

- Dorothy Thompson

When Dorothy Thompson’s father remarried she was sent away to prep school from her home in Lancaster, N.Y. After graduating from Syracuse University in 1914 she spent three years as a women’s suffrage activist before moving to New York to begin her journalism career. In 1920 she headed to Europe and, by 1925, was heading up the Berlin bureaus of ‘The New York Post’ and ‘The Public Ledger.’ While married to writer Sinclair Lewis, Thompson became involved with lesbian German author Christa Winsloe – a romance which lasted for several years, one of several such relationships Thompson had in her life. In 1931 she interviewed Adolph Hitler for an article which spawned the booklet I Saw Hitler, warning of the threat he posed. When he rose to power two years later Thompson became the first Western correspondent to be expelled from the Third Reich. She became obsessed with the dangers of Hitler and fascism and advocated immediate American involvement in the war. Her voice was powerful. From 1936-1958 Thompson’s newspaper column ‘On the Record’ ran three times a week in over 170 papers, reaching an estimated audience of ten million people. In 1936 she was hired by NBC Radio as a news commentator. In 1939 she was on the cover of TIME magazine, which named her the second most influential woman in the country - behind Eleanor Roosevelt. After WWII, Thompson turned her attention to the Middle East. Though she had been a supporter of Zionism since 1920, Thompson changed her position following a bombing and became an anti-Zionist and opposed the creation of the state of Israel. As a result, several papers dropped her column. From 1937-1961, she wrote a monthly column in ‘Ladies Home Journal’ on various domestic topics. In 1958 the woman often called the First Lady of American Journalism began her memoirs, but got no further than her school years. She died on January 20, 1961 in Lisbon, Portugal, while visiting her grandsons.


Gender Female

Sexual Orientation Bisexual

Gender Identity Cisgender

Ethnicity Caucasian/White

Nations Affiliated United States Austria Germany

Era/Epoch First-wave Feminism (1848-1930) World War II (1939-1945)

Field(s) of Contribution



Social Justice

Commemorations & Honors

Halifax Civic Trust Erected Blue Plaque in the Thompson's Honor

Museum of Television & Radio Honored Thompson by Including Her in Their Collection, She Made It: Women Creating Television and Radio (2005)


Original Biography Author
Victor Salvo
Biography Edited By
Owen Keehnen
Resources Coordination
Carrie Maxwell