Although we often look back nostalgically on the days of the newsboy, there were also newsgirls, although it “was a department of activity not often invaded by girl folks.” Alice Frances Britten, an eleven-year-old newsgirl, was a welcome sight to the miners who lived in the Castle Rock and Brickyard Crossing neighborhoods of Joplin. The sprightly young girl, who was described as having bright blue eyes, met the “early morning electric car from Joplin at the crossing between Midway Park and Oakland” to pick up her bundle of papers which she then carried to the homes of “the miners and gardeners of the region.”
Originally from Texas, Britten came to Joplin where she “endured the restraint of city life, and as a result was not strong and rugged a year ago when she first undertook the task of representing The Globe in the Brickyard Crossing neighborhood.” But after a year of delivering the paper in sun, sleet, and snow, she radiated health and vitality.
Her meager earnings were deposited in a savings account “of no mean or inconsiderable proportions” which added “zest and incentive to the long and sometimes tiresome tramp over the narrow and difficult trails of the hill country.” Miners made sure to pay her for their subscriptions which was not always the case of the intercity newsboy who often got ripped off by customers. She even delivered papers when not attending the Range School where she “fought out the difficult problems of the multiplication table and the nominative case.”
The Globe observed, “It has been said that heaven lies about us in our childhood, and surely this mythical land comes very near the Globe’s ‘girl newsboy’ as she communes with Nature during these bright spring mornings.”
Four years later in 1910, Alice F. Britten was living on Royal Heights Road in Jasper County, Missouri, with her parents and siblings. Her father, William, was a building contractor for mining companies, as were her three brothers. Her mother, Ida, listed her occupation as a farmer, while her sister, Nora, taught school. Alice, however, did not have an occupation listed.
In July, 1913, Alice Britten married James Higgins in Jasper County, Missouri, and disappears from the historical record. No matter where Alice ended up, she surely never forgot her time as a young newsgirl, carrying the Globe to the rough and tumble mining neighborhoods where she was warmly greeted.
Source: The Joplin Globe