US Congresswoman. The first surviving daughter of Irish immigrants, she lived a lifetime of firsts. She was the first female member of Congress from New Jersey, the first female Democrat elected from the eastern shore, the first female to chair the state's democratic committee, and the first female chairman of a major congressional committee. Although she did not attend high school, she graduated from Packard Business College in 1896 and worked as a secretary until her marriage. Following the death of her infant son, she helped found Queen's Daughters' Day Nursery, serving as its president until 1927. She met Mayor Frank Hague while soliciting funds for the nursery; he later convinced her to enter politics. With his support she was named to the New Jersey Democratic Committee in 1920, serving as vice-chair from 1921 until 1931 and as chair from 1932 until 1935 and again from 1940 until 1944. In 1924, with Hague's backing, she became the New Jersey's 12th District congressional representative; serving for thirteen consecutive sessions from March 4, 1925 until January 3, 1951. She served as chairman on four committees: District of Columbia (1935 to 1937), Labor (1937 to 1947), Memorials (1941 to 1943), and House Administration (1949 to 1951). Among her achievements was the investigation, and eventual repeal, of the 18th Amendment (Prohibition). She was successful in enacting the Fair Labor Standards, which outlawed child labor and established the 40-hour work week and the minimum (25 cents per hour) wage requirement. Although a strong advocate of the working woman, she opposed the Equal Rights Amendment; believing it would erode the protections already in place. She did not seek the 1950 nomination but was a consultant for several congressional committees in 1951 and 1952.
Bio by: Beth Painter