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The professionalization of the business included codifying ethics and creating professional organizations.

And when it was time for the magazine to go to the printer each week, she and other necessary staff would pile into a taxi with their checking materials to head over to the press, on 11th Avenue (“Death Avenue” to the TIME staff).

In the early days that meant lugging a copy of Who’s Who and the World Almanac, some of Hadden’s own books, a dictionary, a thesaurus and a Bible, along with relevant newspaper clippings.

The checker would put a dot over each word once she’d confirmed its accuracy — first red ones for facts checked from authoritative sources like reference books, then black dots when a fact was sourced to a newspaper and finally green dots for uncheckable words or ones that a checker accepted on the author’s authority. Anything that couldn’t be verified meant querying the author to hammer out the way a sentence should read, though later official guidelines mandated a demure or ladylike tone when doing so.

“Carbons,” files containing copies of each version of the story and all the material used to check it, would be kept on file and handy for 13 weeks then filed away for at least a year.

At first, the New York Public Library was Ford’s main source of information.

She would call the Public Library’s Information Desk for “almost anything,” and was regularly there until it closed.

Peckham called it “the process of surrounding a story.” Once the article was written and edited, the researcher would circle back around and make sure every detail that made to the final version was correct.

(Peckham noted, however, that training could be a matter of trial and error: when first she arrived, she was told about the dots system, but not how to actually check the words she was sorting.) But, though the checkers’ jobs still centered on minute facts, the meaning of what it meant to be correct was shifting.

That broad view meant increased responsibility and authority for the checkers.

In addition, the coming of World War II put immense pressure on them to get breaking news right. 1, 1939, a Friday, leaving the staff with nearly two dozen pages of text to check by that Monday.

“The fun was that you could say what you thought,” she recalled in an oral history interview conducted in the 1950s, “and didn’t have to be respectful.” Ford left after several grueling months of work, but the job didn’t end with her.