first woman in the Lansing (State Capitol) Bureau of the Associated PRess and first woman press secretary to a governor in Michigan and perhaps the nation
“Bank officials indicted.” … “McKay graft trial” … “Grand Jury Inquiry” …
They’re powerful stories with a remarkable byline for the 1940s: Roberta Applegate. Or Robert Applegate, as it occasionally appeared – “corrected” by Michigan’s male editors of the time. She was, after all, a first – first woman in the Lansing (State Capitol) Bureau of the Associated Press and first woman press secretary to a governor in Michigan and perhaps the nation.
While she worked in women’s sections in Lansing, Detroit and Miami, she excelled in the hard news of politics and government.
On the Capitol beat, her male colleagues withheld a welcome. But she prevailed.
“Bobbie’s no sissy,” noted G. Milton Kelly, Lansing correspondent for the AP. “She has won the respect and consideration of the press room fellows who had looked a little sour about a woman invading their halls.”
Applegate follows her father, famed Michigan State University journalism educator A.A. Applegate, into the Michigan Journalism Hall of Fame to create the first father-daughter team of honorees.
Yet she succeeded on her own. The influence of her professional and teaching career rivals or exceeds her dad’s Michigan sphere.
In 1964, she became an associate professor of Journalism and Mass Communication at Kansas State University. She served as president of Kansas Press Women, regional director of the National Association of Press Women and national vice president of Women in Communications, Inc. Her personal papers are in the National Women and Media Collection at the University of Missouri.
Applegate’s legacy endures at Kansas State and beyond. She was a tough and respected professional and professor.