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tv   American Artifacts History of Women in Congress Part 2  CSPAN  March 1, 2021 8:28pm-8:59pm EST

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are interested in this topic, you can you know find out more about this and the woman's publication along with the artifacts that we don't have here on the table and that's available on the sites you can check at their. hello i'm a curator for the house of representatives. that means i'd take care of a lot of the artifacts. the objects in the artwork,
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show the rich heritage. >> i'm the historian of the house, and my job is to collect biographical information on members, and to gather data in historic lists, and to conduct oral histories. we answer questions in our office that come from on the hill and off the hill and we try to tell the story of the house which is this very big and very old institution in a way in which people can kind of connect with it at a human level. we do that through telling biographical stories, the and oral histories, that give people a kind of a human sense of a very large institution. . today we thought we would try to do that with you, by telling you about the history of women in congress. which is a history that dates back to the early 20th century. >> so this is a nifty piece of
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campaign if amara. the this is the it's clear booth. it's a reelection campaign. and uses column one voting for her. and it shows when you go into the voting booth, and the just make sure that you reelect her. >> and she would have been the republican counterpart of the helen douglas she was someone who was not well known to the general public. she was the editor to vanity fair in the 1930s. she later on in the 1930s married the -- she had a very prominent back room before she came to congress. she was elected to two terms in the 1940s. she originally had been a supporter of the new deal.
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and then she turned against fdr's domestic policies, but by the time she comes to congress she is one of the more eloquent spokes people in terms of criticisms of fdr's wartime management. she's not a isolationist. she's an internationalist. she's also a woman who supports the equal rights amendment. enhanced role for women in the military services and outside the home. so she is something of a feminist as well. >> from america, this congressional delegation comes to the western front not a democratic mission. the congresswoman playwright, and costello and thomas serve on the house of representatives military affair committee.
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the group travels towards the battle line, observing american weapons and supplies. off to look over newly liberated areas behind the lines, on their return home, they will make the report to the american nation. >> she served two terms. this would have been for her 1944 reelection. but about that time she suffers a personal tragedy. her only daughter is killed in a car wreck near stanford where she's going to college. and with that, she kind of lost a lot of her zeal for public office. she retires from the house at the end of the 79th congress in 1947. she and douglas would have
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overlapped for a term. but they certainly would have been known by the general public as two very prominent women, with both and a political sense but also in a cultural sense as well. >> this is one of my favorite buttons in the collections. minnesota's congresswoman, she's this wonderful person, matt talks about the transition between generations of women, and how that relates to what is going on in the nation at large. she in some ways pays the price of the changing view of women in the 19 forties and fifties after world war ii ends. this is a photograph of her with her husband, andy, at andy's hotel and he plays a prominent role in how her career and's. >> up until this point in the story there are so many men who come to congress through the
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connection to their husband. through some kind of familial connection. it's she loses her career due to the familial connection. first of, all she represented district in minnesota for two terms. but she came up through the democratic or more labour party in minnesota and that's how she got her political start. she served in the minnesota house of representatives and had a very promising political career. in 1954 she decides to run for the u.s. house seat. and she goes against the wishes of democratic farmer labor leaders who are not happy with the fact that she does not want to stay in the state house of representatives, so she has to fund her own political campaign and she does so. she wins election. her husband, andy, this was a strained marriage to begin
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with. he grows jealous of her political success. and so quite a nude sin though in the house has a very successful career. she gets on the agricultural committee. it's a very promising career. one of the things that he does is because of her background as a teacher she wants to push for the federal student loan program and she manages after the sputnik crisis to slip in a provision amendments to the national defense education act in 1958 that establishes federal student loans. so she knows the legislative ropes and really pushes her agenda. unfortunately, she runs for election that year and democratic farmer labor operatives sabotage her campaign. they write a letter that they get their husband, andy, to
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sign. the letter writes that her marriage is suffering because she's not at home. it insinuate that there could be a untoward lee relationship between herself and a staffer. she essentially loses the reelection because of the negative publicity generated by the letter. it was a social expectation that women's place was in the domestic sphere inside the home, and that really comes back to her the campaign. in the 1958 midterms she's the only incumbent democrat to lose her seat. and her career comes to a close. she later tries to run for congress again but she's unsuccessful. julia butler hansen of washington state is definitely one of the women in this era who is pushing the ball along
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for women in terms of this apprenticeship that they are serving in this group. she becomes a very influential member of the house and her background was as a longtime member of the washington house state of representatives so she's got a lot of legislative experience before shiver comes to capitol hill. she was the chair of a couple of different committees in the state legislature. she had served quite often as the speaker. one of the things that she did in washington was she was the prime mover behind the establishment of the ferry system in the states. so she has a lot of legislative experience. she's not your typical freshman when she's elected in 1960 in the special election, she very quickly moves into a position of influence. she gets a seat on the appropriations committee in the house. and by the mid 1960s she vies for a subcommittee chairman. ship one of the so-called cardinals of the appropriations
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committee, and she competes for a seat in the interior and related agencies subcommittee. it's tough competition. she wins out. but the chairman of the committee, a man by the name of george muhammad, decides he tested her in getting the chairman ship as a tester. the first time that she comes to the full committee with her bill for interior related agencies which is hundreds and hundreds of millions of dollars. it is a big appropriations bill. he says juliet, this is great. but you have to cut 2 million dollars out of it. she looked at him and said yes mister, chairman she comes back to the full committee and she says mister chairman i want to report back to you that i found 4.5 million dollars to cut out
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of the bill. >> julia. that's just wonderful. where did you find it? >> in your district. he never bothered her again. martha who was a power in her own right said of julia he hansen that she knew how to exercise power better than any -- coming from martha griffin that is a lot of praise. >> martha was one of the influential numbers from the 1960s to the 1970s, she represented a michigan district, she has got a lot of experience before shiver comes in congress. she's a lawyer. serves as a judge in michigan and she is elected to the house in 1954. she comes in in 1955 and she'd two very quickly moves into positions of influence.
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she is the first woman after a number of women in congress have campaigned with the speaker to get a seat on the very exclusive committee, the tax committee. from that position she really we in on a lot of issues affecting women monetary. she's probably best known as the mother of the equal rights amendment. every year she reintroduced equal rights amendment which has a history in the house, in congress going back to 1923. and the bill was just stuck in the judiciary committee and never came out. >> she was a lawyer by training. she was very critical of the supreme court. she did think that the supreme court was never going to decide a case that would make women truly equal with men and so she got behind equal rights amendment. she gets it out of the committee with a discharge
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committee in the early 1970s. passes the house. stalls in the senate. and then she comes back and does it again in the following congress. finally er eight passes in 1972, and it goes out to the states. it's never approved as a constitutional amendment but martha was among the prime. the other thing she does is the 1964 civil rights act. she was very interested in pushing an amendment through that would give women equal rights in terms of employment, but she was very cagey about how she did it. she knew that the chairman of the house rules committee, howard smith who was a committed segregationist. that he wanted to sink the 1964 segregation act. she cannot win that he was going to introduce an amendment that would introduce the word sex into an amendment that
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would provide for equal opportunity, equal economic opportunity. title seven of the civil rights act. she held back because she knew that smith could bring a lot of southern votes with him. smith intended this in plea as a gimmick to sing the civil rights act. will he gets on the floor and talks about how he wants to insert the word sex into this amendment and there is left there and giggles around the chamber and people are fanning. martha griffin follows up on behalf of the amendment and she says if there was any need to prove that we need this amendment, the laughing and the applause her to meet arriving here, had false. allen eventually that amendment was included in the civil rights act. another key legislative action by martha. >> this is a campaign poster
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for the first african american women in congress. i love this but it says on bought and an bossed. it's not for her congressional campaign. it's for something else entirely. >> it's for a presidential campaign that she waged in 1972. she went to the democratic convention and actually rounded out about 10% of the votes. she's a first african american women to run for president. she did it on a shoestring budget, and had a very admirable showing. but she had a reputation, a national reputation well before 1972. she was elected to congress in 1968 from a district that encompasses much of brooklyn. and she becomes very prominent in that campaign. her opponent in the general election and on a republican liberal ticket was james farmer. one of the great civil rights
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leaders. there's back and forth between these two and formerly runs on the idea that you know, brooklyn needs a man in congress. chisholm fires back, her campaign the is like the one that i expressed on this poster. unbutton unbiased. i'm fighting for surely chisholm to be congresswoman. she embraces this advocacy rule. she selected. she becomes the first african american women in congress in 1969. she serves a career that in a lot of ways is symbolic. she's the first. she helps to establish the congressional black caucus in 1971. and then she also gains a very prominent committee assignment. she's the first african american woman to serve on the house rules committee which is the committee that pulses
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legislation onto the floor. so she had her hands on a lot of important developments in the house. but she also had a national reputation, she was somebody who was very outspoken, which represents really a lot of the women who are coming into congress at this point. her colleague from new york city was bell, who served a couple terms in the house in the 1970s and later on track to become elected the mayor of new york unsuccessfully. but these were two women who spoke their minds, whether it was about committee assignments that they didn't agree with. surely chisholm was originally assigned to the agriculture committee she went to leadership and she was told by the speaker of the house to be a good soldier. so she went out on the house floor and she started saying things like i have a lot more veterans in my district than i do trees. because she is assigned to the
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veterans affairs committee. these are people who are not going to sit and be quiet even in terms of the expectation of freshman generally or women members. they really kind of challenge the system and this reflects a lot of what is going on in the wider society, with women's rights movement in the 1960s and 1970s. women are challenging these roles that had been carved out for them and really trying to participate in a much more important and fuller way in the u.s. society. and surely chisholm certainly represents that. >> one of the things that we did in the last ten years, was we commissioned portraits of some of the pioneers in the house, and that certainly included shirley chisholm. and the portrait of her, deliberately depicts a lot of what matt was just talking about about her that she had a
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national agenda, she took on an advocacy role, so this portrait of her is in a few ways, a traditional congressional portrait it highlights the figure, the subject was there, but the capital is present to. you know where she is, and it very much makes the capital smaller than her stature nationally. she was taking on those roles. and also the very assertive portrait, she is looking at the viewer and she is almost gesturing to the viewer. in order to do that, we saw out artists who felt they could really tell a story very quickly. and that included children's book illustrators and this was a nationally and internationally award-winning children's book illustrator. interestingly, it has become one of the portraits that is most beloved by children at the capitol. because they look at it, and
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they immediately see what is going on. and it is a piece of history, that is a great thing for kids in for targets to tell, when they bring kids around to see this. >> one of the things that is happening with chisholm as well, she's a great example in this era, which we would call the modern era from the 1970s up. a lot of women who are elected to congress increasingly have prior legislative experience. she served in the new york legislator, the new york state legislature, and she had that background. a lot of women who are coming in with her, have that legislative experience already. and that makes a tremendous difference when you get into the latter decades of the 20th century. you know you get into the 19 eighties in the 1990s, because you have women who are experienced running campaigns, and they are stronger candidates and that is part of the reason why we see the
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growth of women in congress, particularly in the 1990s. you know when we go from what had never been more than really, 20 women at any one time, 2:40, and 50, 60, 70, 80 women serving at any given time in congress. >> these are just a few of the hundreds of buttons that we have in the house collection. but i love seeing them altogether, you know we often say we try to put a human face on the house, and to give people individual stories, to latch onto and to understand, and each of these women, jeanette rankin, lindy boggs, they have fascinating stories, but i have to admit one of the things that i love seeing it altogether, and seeing this great richness and variety of women putting themselves forward to serve their country
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in congress. i am deeply impressed by all of the women who have run for congress, and all the women who have served their. one of my favorites, is the lindy box. >> lindy boggs comes into congress in 1973, during a special election, and it's interesting because this is the time period when we see more and more women who have political careers in their own right, who are elected to the house. but she follows that old widow's mandate route. her husband, had represented a new orleans center district for almost three decades. he had risen to become the majority leader in the house, and many people expected him to become speaker of the house. and in october of 1972, during a campaign trip to alaska, his aircraft disappeared and he was presumed dead. the seat was later vacated, and
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lindy boggs was prevailed on to run for the seat. she had four years, been her husband's eyes and ears in the district. she ran his campaign's back home, and he moved up the leadership ladder in the house, and she knew his office, and his agenda intimately she came into congress, and it was unlike the shirley chisholm's, or look bella abzug, because she has a quiet determination to push women rights along. and there's a great story she has in her memoirs, which is a bill before the banking and currency committee, that would provide equal access to credit. so in the bill was being marked up in the committee, the draft came around and she looked at it and said you know equal access to credit, without racial, age or veteran status
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discrimination. but it said nothing about sex or marital status and she had just become a widow, and had to have all of the finances transferred over to her. so this was fresh in her mind. so she quietly, took a pencil and inserted the phrase, sex or marital status, got up walked to the cop here, made a photocopy for everyone on the day's, and handed it out and said, knowing everyone on the committee as i do, i know that this was just an oversight, and i would assume that my addition here will be wholeheartedly greeted. and with that, the committee voted unanimously for the change, in the amendment. but that is how lindy boggs worked. and she was really somebody who cared very much about the history of the house, and love to tell visitors about it, and
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wanted folks to know about the richness of the history of this place. >> we are indeed a nation that is a majority of women. we also are a nation, where the majority of women who are heads of households, with children under six years of age, our in poverty. we also. >> as women started gaining power, in the second wave of feminism when that got going in the 19 seventies, something happened that was really kind of wonderful, and it happened in 1978, when a little girl in new york went to a baseball -- . and she was pretty young, and she went to her school teacher and said how come i have no baseball cards with women on them. and they said i don't know it's crazy. so she developed a series of 70
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some odd cards, of women and she got a grant from the new york state, to produce them. and they became trading cards. and they were very popular. 15,000 sets of the cards were sold. of those quite a few are women in congress. . these are just a few, and you don't have a full set of the super sisters, but we have all the women in congress representing the super sisters. and from the image of them, and that back to you know it here is shirley chisholm's, and it has stats, no rbi's, but it has stats home, it's about each person, and they're wonderful because some of them have, quotations from these women, and what their accomplishments are, and how they got their, and it's wonderful wonderful pieces of 1970s civic
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engagements. and i love looking at them. not just for that because also some of them have some really fantastic hair. >> and those cards really coincide, with a trend that really begins in the late 1970s, and that is women who are organizing and empowering themselves, to move further up the congressional leadership ladder. more women are being collected to congress. and in 1977, both republican and democratic women come together, and they found the congressional woman's caucus. which has a, very successful legislative agenda. pushing women specific issues in the 1980s and 1990s. in the 19 eighties, you begin to see the development of a political action committee. and that funds women candidates. that has been one of the things that help women's women candidates back quite a bit was money for campaigns. but then in the 1990s, we see
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greater numbers of women, elected like in the 1990 1992 campaign, which was the year of the women in the so-called year of the woman. it sends almost two dozen new women into the house. >> this is only a beginning, these women know, how many talented and experienced, and able and prepared women there are in their states and other states. it is our job, together, to make sure that they think about running and that we get them to accept the challenge of running, and that we would support them through that race, to victory. because this is what you can get if you work at it. thank you. >> and every election after that every cycle, the number begins to tick up. slowly. and as there are more women elected to the house, they get better committee assignments, they get more diverse range of
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assignments, and they move up into leadership positions. and right down to the modern era, where we have kathy mcmorris rogers, who is the chair of the republican conference, and nancy pelosi, who was the former speaker and is still the democratic leader so the transition that women have made in that last time period, have it has been one of great expansion. and when you look at it you go back to 1970 or 1917 rather with jeanette rankin, it has been almost 300 women up to this point so it's a long story but it's a good one ready. [laughs] [applause]
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