Norton, Mary Teresa, 1875-1959

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Mary Teresa Norton (née Hopkins, March 7, 1875 – August 2, 1959) was an American Democratic Party politician who represented Jersey City and Bayonne in the United States House of Representatives from 1925 to 1951.

Born in Jersey City, New Jersey, she attended parochial schools and Jersey City High School before graduating from Packard Business College, New York City in 1896. She worked as a secretary and stenographer until she married Robert Francis Norton in April 1909. As part of the healing process after her one-week-old son, Robert Jr., died in 1910, Norton began working at the Queen’s Daughters Day Nursery and, within three years, became its secretary. By 1916 she was elected nursery president. In her capacity as a fundraiser for the nursery, Norton made contacts throughout the New Jersey political world. Her husband, who died in 1934, supported her professional and political careers to the end.

After World War I, in search of municipal support for the nursery, Norton met Jersey City’s mayor and powerful political boss, Frank “I Am the Law” Hague. Following the ratification of the Nineteenth Amendment in 1920, Hague pressed Norton to enter politics as his protégé. In 1920, with Hague’s backing, Norton was the first woman named to the New Jersey Democratic Committee and, in 1921, was elected its vice chair, serving in that capacity until 1931. She became the first woman to head a state party when she was elevated to chair in 1932. She served until 1935 and was again named chair from 1940 to 1944.

In 1924, with Hague’s endorsement, Norton ran unopposed in the Democratic primary and won election to the U.S. House of Representatives that November. Throughout her House career, Norton chaired four committees: Labor; District of Columbia; Memorials; and House Administration. She helped pass the Fair Labor Standards Act in 1938, working with Clara Mortenson Beyer, Frances Perkins, and Mary La Dame as part of what was colloquially called the "Ladies' Brain Trust." Norton was not a candidate for renomination in 1950. She became a "Womanpower Consultant" for the Women's Advisory Committee on Defense Manpower, in the United States Department of Labor from 1951 to 1952. After Congress, Norton moved to Greenwich, Connecticut, to live near her sister. She died there on August 2, 1959.

Archival Resources
Role Title Holding Repository
referencedIn Miller, Emma Guffey, 1874-1970. Papers: Series III-IV, 1900-1972 (inclusive) [microform]. Arthur and Elizabeth Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America‏
referencedIn Records of the Office of War Information, 1926 - 1951. Feature Stories, 1942 - 1945 National Archives at College Park
referencedIn Women's Project of New Jersey. Records, 1984-2004 Rutgers Special Collections and University Archives
referencedIn Women's Project of New Jersey. Records, 1984-1990. Rutgers University
referencedIn Miller, Emma Guffey, 1874-1970. Papers, 1833-1975 (bulk: 1884-1972) Arthur and Elizabeth Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America‏
referencedIn Albums, ca., 1861-1962 Arthur and Elizabeth Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America‏
creatorOf Norton, Mary Teresa, 1875-1959. Papers, 1920-1960. Rutgers University
referencedIn Records of the U.S. House of Representatives, 1789 - 2015. Credentials, 1789 - 2000 National Archives at Washington, D.C
referencedIn Dewson, Molly, 1874-1962. Albums, 1861-1962 (inclusive). Arthur and Elizabeth Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America‏
referencedIn Hickok, Lorena A. Papers, 1913-1962. Campbell University, Wiggins Memorial Library
referencedIn Federal Writers' Project. Women's archives, 1890-1953. New Jersey Historical Society Library
referencedIn Sharp, Thelma Parkinson, 1898-1983. Papers, 1874-1976 (bulk 1911-1951). Rutgers University
referencedIn Hart, Henry Melvin, 1904-1969. Papers, 1927-1969 Harvard Law School Library Langdell Hall Cambridge, MA 02138
referencedIn Dewson, Molly, 1874-1962. Papers of Molly Dewson, 1893-1962 Arthur and Elizabeth Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America‏
referencedIn Papers, ca.1905-1989 Arthur and Elizabeth Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America‏
referencedIn Bertha S. Adkins Papers. 1928 - 1983. Personal Files, 1928 - 1983 Dwight D. Eisenhower Library
referencedIn Nash, Ruth Cowan, 1901-. Papers: Series V-VII, 1935-1979 (inclusive). Arthur and Elizabeth Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America‏
referencedIn Records of the Wage and Hour Division, 1922 - 1986. Correspondence with Members of Congress, 1938 - 1952 National Archives at College Park
referencedIn Dewson, Molly, 1874-1962. Papers, 1893-1962 Arthur and Elizabeth Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America‏
Role Title Holding Repository
Relation Name
associatedWith Dewson, Molly, 1874-1962. person
associatedWith Emma (Guffey) Miller, 1874-1970 person
associatedWith Federal Writers' Project. corporateBody
associatedWith Hart, Henry Melvin. person
associatedWith Hickok, Lorena A. person
memberOf Hudson County (N.J.). Board of Chosen Freeholders corporateBody
associatedWith MARY (MOLLY) WILLIAMS DEWSON, 1874-1962 person
associatedWith Miller, Emma Guffey, 1874-1970. person
associatedWith Nash, Ruth Cowan, 1901- person
spouseOf Norton, Robert Francis, d. 1934 person
associatedWith Roosevelt, Eleanor, 1884-1962 person
associatedWith Roosevelt, Franklin D. (Franklin Delano), 1882-1945 person
associatedWith RUTH BALDWIN (COWAN) NASH, 1901-1993 person
associatedWith Sharp, Thelma Parkinson, 1898-1983. person
associatedWith Truman, Harry S., 1884-1972 person
memberOf United States. Congress. House person
associatedWith Women's Project of New Jersey corporateBody
associatedWith Women's Project of New Jersey. corporateBody
Place Name Admin Code Country
Jersey City NJ US
Greenwich CT US
New York City NY US
Subject
Women--Political activity
Occupation
Secretaries
Representatives, U.S. Congress--New Jersey
Political Party Executive
Stenographers
Activity

Person

Birth 1875-03-07

Death 1959-08-02

Female

Americans

English

Information

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