Marguerite Higgins

October 1951 issue of Life magazine’s article by Carl Mydans

Marguerite Higgins Hall (September 3, 1920  January 3, 1966) was an American reporter and war correspondent. Higgins covered World War II, the Korean War, and the Vietnam War, and in the process advanced the cause of equal access for female war correspondents.[1] She had a long career with the New York Herald Tribune (1942-1963), and later, as a syndicated columnist for Newsday (1963-1965). She was the first woman to win a Pulitzer Prize for Foreign Correspondence awarded in 1951 for her coverage of the Korean War.

Early life and education

Higgins was born in Hong Kong while her father, Lawrence Higgins, was working at a shipping company. The family moved back to the United States three years later. She worked for The Daily Californian, the University of California, Berkeley newspaper, her freshman year at college. While at Berkeley, she was a member of the Gamma Phi Beta sorority. After graduating from Berkeley in 1941 with a B.A. in French, she earned a masters degree from the Columbia University School of Journalism.


Eager to become a war correspondent, Higgins persuaded the management of the New York Herald Tribune to send her to Europe, after working for them for two years, in 1944. After being stationed in London and Paris, she was reassigned to Germany in March 1945. She witnessed the liberation of the Dachau concentration camp in April 1945 and received a U.S. Army campaign ribbon for her assistance during the surrender by its S.S. guards. She later covered the Nuremberg war trials and the Soviet Union's blockade of Berlin.[2]

In 1950, Higgins was named chief of the Tribune's Tokyo bureau. Shortly after her arrival in Japan, war broke out in Korea, she came to the country as one of the first reporters on the spot. On 28 June, Higgins and three of her colleagues witnessed the Hangang Bridge bombing, and were trapped on the north bank of Han River as a result. After crossing the river by raft and came to the U.S. military HQ in Suwon on the next day, she was quickly ordered out of the country by General Walton Walker, who argued that women did not belong at the front and the military had no time to worry about making separate accommodations for them. Higgins made a personal appeal to Walker's superior officer, General Douglas MacArthur, who subsequently sent a telegram to the Herald Tribune stating: Ban on women correspondents in Korea has been lifted. Marguerite Higgins is held in highest professional esteem by everyone.[3]

This was a major breakthrough for all female war correspondents. As a result of her reporting from Korea, Higgins shared with five male war correspondents the 1951 Pulitzer Prize for International Reporting.[4] In 1952, she married William Evans Hall, a U.S. Air Force Major General, whom she met while Bureau Chief in Berlin. Their first daughter, born in 1953, died five days after a premature birth. In 1958, she gave birth to a son and in 1959, a daughter.[2]

Higgins continued to cover foreign affairs throughout the rest of her life, interviewing world leaders such as Francisco Franco, Nikita Khrushchev, and Jawaharlal Nehru. In 1955, she established and was chief of the Tribune's Moscow bureau. In 1963, she joined Newsday and was assigned to cover Vietnam, "visited hundreds of villages", interviewed most of the major figures, and wrote a book entitled Our Vietnam Nightmare.[5]

On September 2, 2010, South Korea posthumously awarded Order of Diplomatic Service Merit (Korean: 수교훈장), one of its highest honors, to Marguerite Higgins. In a ceremony in the capital, her daughter and grandson accepted the Heunginjang, a national medal. The award cites Higgins' bravery in publicizing South Korea's struggle for survival in the early 1950s.[6]

Later life and death

While on assignment in late 1965, Higgins contracted leishmaniasis, a disease that led to her death on January 3, 1966, aged 45, in Washington, D.C.[7] She is interred at Arlington National Cemetery with her husband Lieutenant General William Evans Hall.



  1. Michaelis, Colonel J.H. "Mike" (September 25, 1950). "Pride of the Regiment". TIME. Retrieved 2008-09-11.
  2. 1 2 "Biographical History". Marguerite Higgins Papers. Syracuse University. Retrieved 27 August 2015.
  3. "Last Word", TIME, July 31, 1950.
  4. "International Reporting". The Pulitzer Prizes. Retrieved 2013-12-02.
  5. Higgins, back jacket.
  6. "US War Correspondent Posthumously Awarded National Medal in Seoul". Arirang News. 2010-09-02.
  7. Sicherman, Barbara (1980). Notable American Women: The Modern Period : a Biographical Dictionary. Boston, MA: Harvard University Press. p. 340-1. ISBN 0-674-62732-6. Retrieved 27 August 2015.

External links

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