Author of Newspaperwoman of the Ozarks: The Life and Times of Lucile Morris Upton to speak at SHSMO in Columbia

A trailblazing journalist who wrote stories about the Ozarks and covered much of its development throughout the 20th century is featured in a new biography, Newspaperwoman of the Ozarks: The Life and Times of Lucile Morris Upton, written by Susan Croce Kelly. The author will speak about her recent book as part of the State Historical Society of Missouri’s History on Elm series, Tuesday, March 12, noon- 1 p.m., at the Center for Missouri Studies, 605 Elm St., Columbia.

Upton began working in newspapers in the western part of the country in the 1920s, eventually moving closer to home where she became the first female reporter in Springfield to cover the courts. She found ease with the subjects of her stories, whether it was a U.S. president, a famous aviation pioneer, or outlaws. 

“Lucile heard that the West was a good place for an independent woman, so she set off for New Mexico to teach,” said Kelly. “However, her passion guided her towards journalism, and she landed in newspaper reporting jobs in Denver and El Paso. She took advantage of doors that opened and lived life on her own terms.”

Upton’s passion for Ozarks history led her to write a critically acclaimed book in 1939 based on the 1880s vigilante group known as the Bald Knobbers, and her newspaper column in the Springfield News- Leader helped bridge present Ozarks to its past. Until retiring in 1982 after nearly 60 years of writing, Upton would be on the front lines of newsgathering as the Ozarks developed into a prosperous tourist and strong economic region of the state.

A former newspaper reporter and communications executive, Kelly is currently the managing editor of OzarksWatch Magazine and the author of several notable books about Route 66. In 2021, she was inducted into the Missouri Writers Hall of Fame.