Emily Taft Douglas (April 10, 1899 – January 28, 1994) was a Democratic Party politician from the U.S. state of Illinois. She served as a U.S. Representative at-large from 1945 until 1947 and was married to U.S. Senator Paul Douglas from 1931 until his death in 1976. She was the first female Democrat elected to Congress from Illinois, and her election made Illinois one of the first two states to have been represented by female House members from both parties.
Born Emily Taft in Chicago, Illinois to sculptor Lorado Taft and his wife Ada Bartlett Taft, Emily Taft graduated from the University of Chicago Laboratory School and then the University of Chicago with honors in French. She joined the Democratic Party because of her support for Woodrow Wilson's push for the League of Nations. After graduating from the University of Chicago she studied at the American Academy of Dramatic Art. She was a working actress for two years before going to work for the League of Women Voters in 1924. She married University of Chicago economics professor Paul Douglas in 1931, who she had met through League of Women Voters functions.
After a 1935 trip to Europe where they took up the internationalist cause, the Douglases became involved in politics. While her husband mounted a successful run as an alderman in Chicago and an unsuccessful run for the US Senate, Emily Douglas became heavily involved with the Illinois League of Women Voters. Illinois Democratic leaders approached Douglas to run for the state’s lone At-Large seat in the winter of 1943–1944. Though she turned down the initial offer, Douglas reconsidered; running on a platform advocating the formation of an international alliance of countries, she would win the Democratic primary and general election. Running on a platform which supported President Harry S. Truman’s domestic policies and his expanded foreign aid programs two years later, Douglas was one of 54 House Democrats to lose their seats.
Douglas was active in politics for much of her postcongressional life. In 1948 she campaigned on behalf of her husband, Paul, who won election to the first of his three terms as a U.S. Senator from Illinois. Emily Douglas was appointed in 1950 as U.S. Representative to the U.N. Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization. She later served on the legislative committee of the Unitarian Fellowship for Social Justice and as vice president and moderator of the American Unitarian Association, its highest lay office. After Paul Douglas died in 1976, she resided in White Plains, New York, where she passed away on January 28, 1994.