O'Day, Caroline, 1875-1943

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Caroline Love Goodwin O'Day (June 22, 1869 – January 4, 1943) was an American politician. A member of the Democratic Party, she served four terms in the U.S. House of Representatives.

Born Caroline Love Goodwin on a plantation in Perry, Georgia, she graduated from the Lucy Cobb Institute in Athens, Georgia, and for eight years studied art in Paris (with James McNeill Whistler), Munich, and Holland, and briefly at the Cooper Union. In 1902 she married Daniel T. O’Day, son of a Standard Oil Company executive.

O'Day first became involved in politics by joining the Westchester, New York League of Women Voters, where she became an officer and first met Eleanor Roosevelt. After the death of her husband in 1916, Caroline O’Day dedicated herself to improving the lives of working-class poor in the inner city. She served on the board of directors and volunteered at Lillian Wald’s Henry Street Settlement on Manhattan’s Lower East Side. A pacifist who opposed U.S. entry into World War I, O’Day became vice chair of the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom. Her first political appointment came in 1921 when New York Governor Alfred E. Smith named her to the state board of social welfare, supervising care for dependent juveniles. In 1923 O’Day became associate chair of the New York state Democratic Committee and directed its women’s division—holding both positions until her death. As a reward, the party appointed her chair of the New York delegation to the 1924 Democratic National Convention. he worked for Smith’s presidential campaign in 1928 and for Franklin D. Roosevelt’s successful 1932 campaign. After Roosevelt’s inauguration, O’Day was named New York’s director of the National Recovery Administration.

In 1934, 1936, 1938 and 1940, O'Day was elected at-large as a Democrat to the 74th, 75th, 76th and 77th United States Congresses, holding office from January 3, 1935, to January 3, 1943. While in the House, she was Chairwoman of the Committee on Election of President, Vice President, and Representatives (75th through 77th Congresses). Among the legislation she sponsored or co-sponsored was the Wagner-O'Day Act, the predecessor to the Javits-Wagner-O'Day Act. She criticized the Daughters of the American Revolution in 1939 when they refused to allow African-American singer Marian Anderson to perform at Constitution Hall and opposed legislation to create detention camps for foreign nationals, a plan that foreshadowed later wartime internment camps for Japanese Americans.

Poor health brought O’Day’s career to a premature end. Her 1940 election had been carried on largely by her daughter, Elia, who made campaign appearances for her convalescing mother. O’Day declined to run for a fifth term in 1942, after she suffered complicating injuries from a fall. O’Day died on January 4, 1943, a day after the end of her congressional service. In observing O’Day’s popularity among her House colleagues, the Washington Post eulogized her as “a firm friend, a cultivated companion, and a conscientious public servant.”

Archival Resources
Role Title Holding Repository
referencedIn Jones, Gwladys Webster, 1891-. Papers, 1929-1939 (inclusive). Arthur and Elizabeth Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America‏
creatorOf O'Day, Caroline Goodwin, 1875-1943. Letter, 1940, to Lewis Mumford. University of Pennsylvania Libraries, Van Pelt Library
referencedIn Bertha S. Adkins Papers. 1928 - 1983. Personal Files, 1928 - 1983 Dwight D. Eisenhower Library
referencedIn Beard, Mary Ritter, 1876-1958. Papers, 1935-1958 Arthur and Elizabeth Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America‏
referencedIn Harry Weinberger papers, 1915-1944 Yale University Library
referencedIn American Friends of Irish Neutrality. Records, 1938-1941. Campbell University, Wiggins Memorial Library
referencedIn Ludlow mss., 1898-1948 Lilly Library (Indiana University, Bloomington)
referencedIn Villard, Oswald Garrison, 1872-1949. Papers, 1872-1949 Houghton Library
referencedIn Dreier, Mary E. (Mary Elisabeth), 1875-1963. Papers, 1797-1963 (inclusive), 1897-1963 (bulk). Arthur and Elizabeth Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America‏
referencedIn Dreier, Mary E. (Mary Elisabeth), 1875-1965. Papers, 1797-1968 (bulk 1897-1968) Arthur and Elizabeth Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America‏
creatorOf O'Day, Caroline, 1875-1943. Correspondence with Marian Anderson, 1939. University of Pennsylvania Libraries, Van Pelt Library
referencedIn Mabel Vernon Papers, 1933-1947 Syracuse University. Library. Special Collections Research Center
referencedIn Roosevelt, Franklin D. (Franklin Delano), 1882-1945. Papers as Governor of New York, 1929-1932. Campbell University, Wiggins Memorial Library
referencedIn Val-Kill Industries (Hyde Park, Dutchess County, N.Y.). Val-Kill furniture catalog, [ca. 1930] Campbell University, Wiggins Memorial Library
referencedIn Ellis, Edith Anna, 1868-1940. Edith Anna Ellis scrapbooks, 1924-1933. Cornell University Library
referencedIn Franklin D. Roosevelt Papers as Governor of New York State. 1/1/1929 - 12/31/1932. Correspondence Franklin D. Roosevelt Presidential Library and Museum
referencedIn Rayburn, Sam, 1882-1961, Papers, 1822, 1831, 1845, 1903-2007 Dolph Briscoe Center for American History
referencedIn Franklin D. Roosevelt Master Speech Files. 1/19/1898 - 4/13/1945. Franklin D. Roosevelt Master Speech Files Franklin D. Roosevelt Presidential Library and Museum
Role Title Holding Repository
Relation Name
associatedWith American Friends of Irish Neutrality. corporateBody
associatedWith Dreier, Mary E. (Mary Elisabeth), 1875-1963. person
associatedWith Ellis, Edith Anna, 1868-1940. person
associatedWith Henry Street Settlement (New York, N.Y.) corporateBody
associatedWith Jones, Gwladys Webster, 1891- person
memberOf League of Women Voters (U.S.) corporateBody
associatedWith Ludlow, Louis, 1873-1950 person
associatedWith MARY ELISABETH DREIER, 1875-1963 person
associatedWith Mary (Ritter) Beard, 1876-1958 person
memberOf New York (State). Board of Social Welfare corporateBody
associatedWith Rayburn, Sam, 1882-1961 person
associatedWith Roosevelt, Franklin D. (Franklin Delano), 1882-1945. person
almaMaterOf The Cooper Union. corporateBody
memberOf United States. Congress. House person
associatedWith Val-Kill Industries (Hyde Park, Dutchess County, N.Y.) corporateBody
associatedWith Vernon, Mabel. person
correspondedWith Villard, Oswald Garrison, 1872-1949 person
associatedWith Weinberger, Harry, 1888- person
associatedWith Whistler, James McNeill, 1834-1903 person
Place Name Admin Code Country
Rye NY US
New York City NY US
Perry GA US
Athens GA US
Munich 02 DE
Paris A8 FR
Subject
Occupation
Homemakers
Representatives, U.S. Congress
State Government Official
Suffragettes
Activity

Person

Birth 1869-06-22

Death 1943-01-04

Female

Americans

English

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