Henry Doorly

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Henry Doorly
Born (1879-11-09)November 9, 1879
Died June 21, 1961(1961-06-21) (aged 81)
Omaha, Nebraska
Occupation Editor, Publisher
Spouse(s) Margaret Hitchcock Doorly

Henry Doorly (November 9, 1879 – June 21, 1961), a native of Barbados, moved to Omaha while working as an engineer and then moved into the newspaper business. He became the chairman of the World Publishing Company and publisher of the Omaha World-Herald in Omaha, Nebraska. Doorly worked for the company for 58 years,[1] becoming a highly influential figure in the city. Omaha's zoo was renamed in his memory in 1963.[2]

Early years[edit]

Born to Martin E. Doorly and Katherine Carrington in Barbados, Henry was educated at Harrison College in Bridgetown. From 1896 to 1898 he studied civil engineering in the West Indies. Arriving in Omaha in 1902 as a surveyor with the Union Pacific Railroad, he spent two years working as a draftsman with the United States Army Corps of Engineers in Omaha. On September 7, 1904 Doorly married Margaret Hitchcock in Omaha, becoming the son-in-law of World-Herald publisher and politician Gilbert M. Hitchcock.[3]

Omaha World-Herald[edit]

Beginning as a reporter for the Omaha World-Herald, Doorly failed miserably, retaining his job only because he was the publisher's daughter's fiancé. Doorly became successful after moving to advertisement sales, soon becoming advertising manager and then business manager for the newspaper.[4]

Doorly took control of the Omaha World-Herald in 1934 when his father-in-law, Gilbert M. Hitchcock, died. Reflecting the changing nature of the major American political parties and Doorly's personal disenchantment with the New Deal in the 1930s, he implemented the newspaper's editorial page shift toward a Republican Party policy stance.

Under Doorly's guidance, the paper soon standardized advertisement policies and procedures. To enforce brevity and variety, Doorly had a daily "Item Count" conducted to count the number of stories in each news category, including local news, society, and international sections. The staff consequently produced as many as 450 separate news stories a day.[5]

Omaha Bee[edit]

In 1937 William Randolph Hearst sold Doorly the Bee-News, his main competitor in Omaha.[6] During World War II, Doorly used his position to lead a national campaign educating newspaper editors and publishers in promoting steel recycling to support the war.[7]

Doorly retired in 1955, leaving control of both newspapers to Walter E. Christiansen.[5] He died in 1961 of an apparent heart attack.[8][9]


In 1963, his widow Margaret Hitchcock Doorly donated $750,000 (approximately $4.5 million in 2005 dollars) to the Omaha Zoological Society. It was organized in 1953 to improve the Riverview Park Zoo and to provide administrative help to the city.[10] With her donation, Doorly stipulated that the zoo be renamed in memory of her late husband.[2]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Busby, M.B. and Massey, M. (2006) Dear Megan: Letters on Life, Love and Fragile X. Capital Books. p. 87.
  2. ^ a b "History", Henry Doorly Zoo website. Retrieved 4/29/08.
  3. ^ Who's who in Nebraska, 1940. Retrieved 4/29/08.
  4. ^ "Omaha monopoly", Time. October 11, 1937. Retrieved 4/29/08.
  5. ^ a b "An independent steps aside", Time. Sep. 05, 1955. Retrieved 4/29/08.
  6. ^ Wishart, D.J. (2004) Encyclopedia of the Great Plains. University of Nebraska Press. p 515.
  7. ^ "To Arouse the People", Time. Sep. 14, 1942. Retrieved 4/29/08.
  8. ^ Lincoln Evening Journal, 27 June 1961, Pg 20.
  9. ^ [1], Find A Grave website. Retrieved 13 October 2009.
  10. ^ "General Information: Zoo history", Omaha's Henry Doorly Zoo. Retrieved 5/3/08.