Marguerite Higgins (Sept 3 1920 - Jan 3 1966) was an American reporter and renown war correspondent who covered the Second World War, the Korean War and the war in Vietnam. She attended the University of California and Berkely, where in 1941 she graduated with a B.A. degree in French and received a Masters degree in journalism from Columbia University.
Well ahead of her time, Higgins worked for the New York Herald Tribune for two years before finally persuading them to allow her to become a war correspondent in 1944. After that, she was in London and Paris before being reassigned to Germany in March 1945. It was there she witnessed the liberation of the Dachau concentration camp in April of that year and received the US Army campaign ribbon for her assistance of capturing and arresting SS guards. In the immediate post-war Germany, Higgins covered the Nuremberg trials and then the Soviet Union’s blockade of Berlin.
In 1950, when the Korean War broke out, she was the first war correspondent in the country. Despite her resume and experience from the Second World War, Higgins was ordered out of the country by General Walton Walker, who argued that “women did not belong at the front” and that “the military had no time to worry about making separate accommodations for them”.
Seeing no other option, Higgins made a personal appeal to General Walker’s superior officer, General Douglas MacArthur. MacArthur subsequently sent a telegram to the New York Herald Tribune that read:
Ban on women correspondents in Korea has been lifted. Marguerite Higgins is held in highest professional esteem by everyone.
As a result, Higgins work during the Korean War was some of the best seen in war journalism. So much so that her work won her the Pulitzer Prize in 1951 for international reporting, making her the first woman to do so. She shared the award with five previous male correspondents.
In the 1960s, after covering the Vietnam War for several years, she contracted the tropical disease known as leishmaniasis. Marguerite died at the age of 45 in January 1966.