Edith Evans Asbury

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Edith Evans Asbury
Edith Evans Asbury.jpg
Asbury circa 2005
Born Edith Snyder
(1910-06-30)June 30, 1910
New Boston, Ohio
Died October 30, 2008(2008-10-30) (aged 98)
Occupation Writer
Employer The New York Times
Spouse(s) Joe Evans (m. 1930–38)
Herbert Asbury (m. 1945–58)
Robert E. Garst (m. 1971–80)

Edith Evans Asbury (June 30, 1910 – October 30, 2008) was an award-winning journalist who spent nearly 30 years as a reporter with The New York Times.[1]


Born Edith Snyder on June 30, 1910, in New Boston, Ohio, she was the eldest of 16 children.[1] After a summer job at the Cincinnati Times-Star at age 19, she left Western College for Women with a passion for journalism that would last most of her life. She married Joe Evans when she was 20 and the couple moved to Knoxville, Tennessee, where she attended the University of Tennessee, receiving bachelor's and master's degrees in American history in 1932 and 1933 respectively.[2] She took a job as a reporter with the Knoxville News Sentinel from 1933 to 1937.[1]

In 1937, at the height of the Great Depression, she left Knoxville and her husband (whom she later divorced) and headed to Manhattan despite the lack of any pre-planned prospects for work and wired her editor that she was quitting her job. In New York, she found a sequence of jobs with the New York Post, the New York City Housing Authority, the Associated Press and the New York World-Telegram and Sun, where she served as assistant editor for women's news.[1] While at the World-Telegram in 1952, Asbury was elected President of the New York Newspaper Women's Club.[3]

She married journalist Herbert Asbury in 1945; the two divorced in 1958. It was the second marriage for both.[4] Her husband was best known for his 1928 book The Gangs of New York, which was later adapted as a screenplay for the 2002 Martin Scorsese film. Her 1971 marriage to Times assistant managing editor Robert E. Garst ended with his death in 1980.[1]

The New York Times[edit]

She accepted a position with The New York Times in 1952 with the proviso that she be assigned to the city room and not the women's department of the paper.[5] Her first byline in the paper was a story from December 5, 1952, on a ceremony welcoming Saint Nicholas held in Westchester County, New York.[6] Others among her earliest stories with the paper included items about holiday shopping on Fifth Avenue,[7] a lost canary,[8] and the Fifth Avenue Easter Parade.[1]

More serious work followed, including a 1955 series on the problems of the elderly. She was one of several reporters sent by the Times in 1956 to write about desegregation in the South following the Supreme Court's 1954 decision Brown v. Board of Education, which was summarized in a special eight-page section published in March 1956 and made available to the public as a reprint.[9] Her reporting in 1958 about an unwritten ban on counseling and prescription of birth control in New York City hospitals was credited with helping overturn the ban.[1][10][11]

Asbury was known for her tenacity; New York City Mayor John Lindsay was said to have been so angered by her that he smashed his telephone after slamming down the receiver.[1]

Even after her retirement from the Times in 1981, Asbury continued to write for the paper, including items about travel to Europe and China.[1][12][13] Into her 90s, Asbury would call reporters at the paper, offering suggestions on potential stories that had been overlooked.[1]

Awards and recognition[edit]

The Women's Press Club of New York City gave Asbury its Newspaper Award of Merit for "outstanding achievement in the field of journalism of benefit to the City of New York in 1964".[14] Asbury was recognized in 1967 with the Page One Award from the Newspaper Guild of New York for a series about a family's successful battle to adopt a blind foster child.[15]

Asbury was also one of the first women allowed to join the Inner Circle Show in 1973.

Her health had deteriorated for two years, and she died at her home in Greenwich Village in Manhattan at age 98, on October 30, 2008. A specific cause of death was not disclosed.[1]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k Fox, Margalit. "Edith Evans Asbury, 98, Veteran Times Reporter, Is Dead", The New York Times, October 30, 2008, with correction added November 5, 2008. Accessed November 5, 2008.
  2. ^ "Footnotes" (PDF). University of Tennessee Department of History. Summer 2002. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2010-06-10. Retrieved 2009-05-07. 
  3. ^ Staff. "NEWSPAPER WOMEN ELECT; Mrs. Edith Evans Asbury of The World-Telegram Is President", The New York Times, May 22, 1952. Accessed October 31, 2008.
  4. ^ "Married". Time. 1945-04-09. Herbert Asbury, 53, historian of shady Americana (The Gangs of New York, The French Quarter, The Barbary Coast), associate editor of Collier's magazine, descendant of U.S. Methodism's first Bishop, Francis Asbury; and Edith Snyder Evans, 34, New York City Associated Press reporter; both for the second time; in Fort Lee, NJ. 
  5. ^ Barry, Dan. "Sweet She Ain't, and She Has the Stories to Prove It", The New York Times, March 11, 2006. Accessed October 31, 2008.
  6. ^ Asbury, Edith Evans "ST. NICK HONORED IN OLD DUTCH FETE; Colorful Ceremony at Home of Washington Irving Recalls Early Niew Amsterdam", The New York Times, December 5, 1952. Accessed November 1, 2008.
  7. ^ Asbury, Edith Evans. "5TH AVE. WINDOWS STAGE YULE SHOW; Store Displays, Stressing the Snows of Yesteryear, Attract Thongs of Viewers", The New York Times, December 16, 1952. Accessed November 1, 2008.
  8. ^ Asbury, Edith Evans. "Lost Canary Flies Into Hospital, Fulfilling High School Prediction", The New York Times, July 9, 1953. Accessed November 1, 2008.
  9. ^ Staff. "REPORT ON THE SOUTH: A SUMMARY OF THE NEW YORK TIMES SURVEY; Extent to Which Integration Has Been Achieved; The Atmosphere in Different Parts of the South", The New York Times, March 18, 1956. Accessed November 1, 2008.
  10. ^ Asbury, Edith Evans. "CITY EDICT SOUGHT ON BIRTH CONTROL; Some Hospital Doctors Find Recent Policy Statement on Counseling Vague", The New York Times, May 22, 1958. Accessed November 1, 2008.
  11. ^ Asbury, Edith Evans. "BIRTH CONTROL ISSUE AGAIN STIRS DEBATE; Hospital Commissioner's Action Rouses Bitter Controversy", The New York Times, August 24, 1958. Accessed November 1, 2008.
  12. ^ Asbury, Edith Evans. "HELLO, COLUMBUS", The New York Times, October 9, 1983. Accessed November 1, 2008.
  13. ^ Asbury, Edith Evans. "CANDOR, CHINESE STYLE", The New York Times, April 10, 1983. Accessed November 1, 2008.
  14. ^ Staff. "Woman Reporter Is Honored Here", The New York Times, March 28, 1965. Accessed October 31, 2008.
  15. ^ Staff. "Times Given Page One Award; News Wins 3 of Guild Trophies", The New York Times, March 3, 1967. Accessed October 31, 2008.