Edith Nourse Rogers (1881 – 1960)

In honor of Women’s History Month, Me and My 1000 Girlfriends brings you 31 Days of Cool Women beginning with Edith Nourse Rogers, the first woman elected to Congress. Pass these stories on to your daughters and let them learn about the women who shook the trees and made a powerful difference.

“Fight hard, fight fair and persevere.”Edith Nourse Rogers (1881 – 1960) – On June 30, 1925, Rogers became the first woman elected to the U.S. Congress from the state of Massachusetts assuming her late husband’s seat. She won by 72% of the vote against the former governor (because now her Girlfriends had Power!). She was the first to speak out against Hitler’s treatment of Jews. “She supported local economic autonomy; on April 19, 1934 she read a petition against the expanded business regulations of the New Deal, and all 1,200 signatures, into the Congressional Record.”

She was a staunch advocate for veterans, co-sponsoring the GI Bill in 1944. She also sponsored a bill establishing the Women’s Army Auxiliary Corp which took several years to get support. Even after the creation of WAAC, it was marred by “vicious gossip and bad publicity in 1943.” “Investigations by the War Department and Edith Rogers uncovered nothing; and the incidence of disorderly and criminal conduct among the WAACs was a tiny fraction of that among the male military population, venereal disease was almost non-existent, and the pregnancy rate was far below civilian women. Despite this, the June 30, 1943 enlistment reached 60,000,” less than half of the initial 150,000 hoped for.

Unfortunately, she was not always on the right side, she supported McCarthy’s the House Committee on Un-American Activities, but she did much good. She died three days before the primary for her 19th term. She was also involved in a scandal regarding a divorce.

History should not be whitewashed. To understand a woman’s history, we should provide all information and allow people to truly get the background of cool women, even if at times, they weren’t so cool. Enjoy!