Election 1944: Women in Congress (8-17-44)

The Pittsburgh Press (August 17, 1944)


Background of news –
Women in Congress

By Bertram Benedict

The Democratic nomination of Mrs. Chase Going Woodhouse, former Connecticut Secretary of State, for a seat on Congress, brings to three the number of Connecticut women contesting for places in the House of Representatives. The state has only five House seats.

Sixteen women have been nominated in 1944 primaries and conventions to date for seats in the House of Representatives of the next Congress. Two women lost races for nominations in this week’s primary in Wisconsin but the number of women candidates may be increased to 20 or more in the primaries remaining to be held. The only woman seeking a Senate seat in 1944 – Senator Hattie Caraway – was defeated in the Arkansas primary in July.

Of the seven women now serving in the House, all except one have been renominated; Miss Winifred Stanley (R-NY) was not a candidate in the Aug. 1 primary in her state.

Of the present women representatives, six are Republicans and one a Democrat. Of the women nominated or renominated in the primaries to date, seven are Republicans and nine are Democrats.

Chances believed good

Several of the Democrats are running in “sure” Republican districts and several of the Republicans in “sure” Democratic districts, but the chances of all present women members who have been renominated are considered good, for all of them have served one or more previous terms in the House.

Rep. Mary Norton (D-NJ) and Rep. Edith Nourse Rogers (R-MA) have been members since 1925.

Since women first voted in all states in 1920, there have been 18 Democratic and 11 Republican women members of Congress, of whom five have served in the Senate. One Republican and two Democratic women Senators served merely honorary terms and Mrs. Rose Long (D-LA) took an active part in Senate proceedings for only a few months under an appointment to fill the unexpired term of her husband.

Senator Caraway, first appointed in 1931 to serve out her husband’s term, was elected to succeed himself in 1932 and was reelected in 1938. Over half of the women members owed, or have been appointed when widowed, or have been chosen at special elections to replace their husbands. Over half of these were not candidates in the next general election.

Have special interests

The special interests of the more active women members of Congress have been:

  • Labor problems, to which Mrs. Norton (now chairman of the House Committee on Labor) has devoted her chief attention;

  • Legislation affecting veterans and members of the Armed Forces, with which Rep. Rogers had been chiefly concerned;

  • Education and public health, which have received the principal attention of Rep. Frances Bolton (R-OH);

  • Preservation of peace, which led Rep. Jeannette Rankin (the first woman member of Congress) to sacrifice her seat by voting against war in 1917 – and again in 1941.

Three women have served on the House Foreign Affairs Committee – Ruth Bryan Owen (D-FL), a former member, and Reps. Rogers and Bolton, who are present members of the committee. Rep. Clare Boothe Luce (R-CT) was refused a place on the Foreign Affairs Committee but was made a member of the House Military Affairs Committee.

Connecticut, with three women candidates, is certain to have at least one woman member in the House of the next Congress, for in the fourth district of that state, the contest is between Republican Rep. Luce and Democrat Miss Margaret Connors.