Douglas, Emily Taft, 1899-1994

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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.

Archival Resources
Role Title Holding Repository
referencedIn Vanderhoof, Frank E., b. 1888. Frank E. Vanderhoof papers, 1933-1956. Library of Congress
referencedIn Paul Blanshard Papers, 1912-1979 Bentley Historica Library University of Michigan
referencedIn American Council on Education. Records, 1951. Arthur and Elizabeth Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America‏
referencedIn McCulloch, Catharine Waugh, 1862-1945. Papers, 1877-1983 Arthur and Elizabeth Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America‏
referencedIn Gellhorn, Edna Fischel, 1878-1970. Papers, 1919-1960 Arthur and Elizabeth Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America‏
referencedIn Records, 1951 Arthur and Elizabeth Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America‏
referencedIn Lawton, Helen Fuller, 1885-. Helen Fuller Lawton papers, 1906-1936. Minnesota Historical Society Library
referencedIn Douglas, Paul H. (Paul Howard), 1892-1976. Reminiscences of Paul Howard Douglas : oral history, 1975. Columbia University in the City of New York, Columbia University Libraries
referencedIn McCulloch, Catharine Waugh, 1862-1945. Papers, 1877-1983 Arthur and Elizabeth Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America‏
referencedIn Gellhorn, Edna Fischel, 1878-1970. Papers, 1919-1960 Arthur and Elizabeth Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America‏
creatorOf Magee, Elizabeth S., 1889-1972. Papers, 1793, 1882-1972. Western Reserve Historical Society, Research Library
referencedIn Rayburn, Sam, 1882-1961, Papers, 1822, 1831, 1845, 1903-2007 Dolph Briscoe Center for American History
referencedIn Blaine, Anita McCormick. Correspondence and papers, 1828-1958. Wisconsin Historical Society, Newspaper Project
referencedIn The Nation, records, 1879-1974 (inclusive), 1920-1955 (bulk). Houghton Library
referencedIn Bertha S. Adkins Papers. 1928 - 1983. Personal Files, 1928 - 1983 Dwight D. Eisenhower Library
Role Title Holding Repository
Relation Name
alumnusOrAlumnaOf American Academy of Dramatic Arts (New York, N.Y.) corporateBody
associatedWith American Council on Education. corporateBody
associatedWith American Council on Education. Conference on Women in the Defense Decade, 1951. corporateBody
employeeOf American Red Cross corporateBody
employeeOf American Unitarian Association corporateBody
associatedWith Blaine, Anita McCormick. person
associatedWith Blanshard, Paul, 1892- person
associatedWith Catharine Gouger (Waugh) McCulloch, 1862-1945 person
spouseOf Douglas, Paul H. (Paul Howard), 1892-1976. person
associatedWith Edna Fischel Gellhorn, 1878-1970 person
associatedWith Gellhorn, Edna Fischel, 1878-1970. person
associatedWith Lawton, Helen Fuller, 1885- person
employeeOf League of Women Voters (U.S.) corporateBody
associatedWith Magee, Elizabeth S., 1889-1972. person
associatedWith McCulloch, Catharine Waugh, b. 1862. person
associatedWith Nation (New York, N.Y. : 1865). corporateBody
associatedWith Rayburn, Sam, 1882-1961 person
childOf Taft, Lorado, 1860-1936 person
relativeOf Taft, William Howard, 1857-1930 person
employeeOf UNESCO corporateBody
memberOf United States. Congress. House person
alumnusOrAlumnaOf University of Chicago. corporateBody
correspondedWith Vanderhoof, Frank E., b. 1888. person
Place Name Admin Code Country
Briarcliff Manor NY US
New York City NY US
District of Columbia DC US
White Plains NY US
Chicago IL US
Subject
Occupation
Actresses
Authors
Representatives, U.S. Congress--Illinois
Secretaries
Activity

Person

Birth 1899-04-10

Death 1994-01-28

Female

Americans

English,

French

Information

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