Peterson, Elly Maude, 1914-2008

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Charlotte, Michigan, resident, state chairperson of Republican Party, and assistant chairperson of Republican National Committee.

From the description of Elly Peterson papers, 1943-1985. (University of Michigan). WorldCat record id: 34421034

Charlotte, Mich., resident, state chairperson of Republican Party, and assistant chairperson of Republican National Committee.

Beginning in the mid-1950s, Elly Peterson worked for the Republican State Central Committee in a number of different capacities, doing secretarial work and performing various campaign assignments. For some of this period of time, roughly 1957 to 1961, Peterson served as aide to state party chairman, Lawrence B. Lindemer. In 1961, the level of her responsibilities increased when she was appointed Republican field service representative and later Republican state vice chairman.

She was re-elected to this two-year position in 1963. In 1965, she was elected Republican state chairman, the first woman from a major political party to receive that honor. She served until 1969 when she went to work for the national Republican party.

Elly Peterson was closely associated with the successful campaigns of Governor George Romney, where her organizational skills, especially in enlisting the support of women voters, had propelled the Michigan governor into the national spotlight as a strong presidential possibility. She was selected assistant chairman of the Republican National Committee from 1963 until July 1964 (when she resigned to run unsuccessfully against Philip Hart for his United States Senate seat).

She was re-appointed assistant chairman in 1969 serving until December 1970 when she temporarily retired from partisan politics. As assistant chairman, Peterson was responsible for the Action Now program that was established to involve special voter groups in party politics. During the next several years in the 1970s, Peterson was involved in a number of different women's organiations.

Beginning in 1972, Peterson was a member of Delegation for Friendship Among Women and made trips to China and to many of the countries of the Middle East. The purpose of each visit was to promote international friendship among women. In 1974, she served as organizational director of the National Center for Voluntary Action; and in 1975, she contributed her talents to the American Women for International Understanding and the National Commission on the Observance of International Women's Year.

Among all of the issues of this period, Peterson was undoubtably most devoted to passage of the Equal Rights Amendment. In 1976, she was made co-chair (along with Liz Carpenter) of ERAmerica, an organization established to "provide a national focus for the ERA ratification campaign and to channel money and resources into the unratified states." At that time, ratification of the amendment was stalled, and one of the purposes of ERAmerica was to pump money and enthusiasm into the ratification process.

During her two years as co-chair, Peterson was a tireless speaker and effective advocate of the ERA. in 1978, Peterson resigned as co-chair but continued her advocacy in any way she thought useful. In 1976, Peterson interrupted her retirement from Republican party politics when she accepted on an interim basis the position of deputy chairman of the President Ford Committee.

In this organization set-up to run Gerald Ford's election campaign, Peterson was responsible for organizing special voter groups and group volunteers in the presidential campaign. Peterson resigned as deputy chairman after the nominating convention but continued on with People for Ford, an organization that drew together special interest voting blocs.

At the conclusion of the campaign, Peterson continued working for ERAmerica, and then with the failure of the amendment's passage, she devoted herself to civic and charitable organizational work.

From the description of Elly Peterson papers, 1943-1997. (University of Michigan). WorldCat record id: 78292951

Elly McMillan Peterson was born in New Berlin, Illinois on June 5, 1914. She was educated at William Woods College in Fulton, Missouri and Northwestern University in Chicago, and was a graduate of Suburban Business College in Oak Park, Illinois. In 1935, she married William M. Peterson. Except for a twenty-two month stint overseas with the American Red Cross during World War II, Peterson worked in a variety of secretarial and office management positions in the Chicago and Kalamazoo, Michigan area from 1933 to 1957. She moved to Michigan sometime around 1950 eventually making Charlotte, Michigan her permanent residence.

Early on in her life, Peterson began taking an interest in Republican party politics. At age 21, she became a member of the Oak Park Young Republicans. Following her move to Michigan, she worked for the Republican State Central Committee in a number of different capacities, doing secretarial work and performing various campaign assignments. For some of this period of time, roughly 1957 to 1961, Peterson served as aide to state party chairman, Lawrence B. Lindemer. In 1961, the level of her responsibilities increased when she was appointed Republican field service representative and later Republican state vice chairman. She was re-elected to this two-year position again in 1963. In 1965, she was elected Republican state chairman, the first woman from a major political party to receive that honor. She served until 1969 when she went to work for the national Republican party.

Elly Peterson's rise within the state party had not gone unnoticed by national Republican figures. She was closely associated with the successful campaigns of Governor George Romney, where her organizational skills, especially in enlisting the support of women voters, had propelled the Michigan governor into the national spotlight as a strong presidential possibility. She was selected assistant chairman of the Republican National Committee from 1963 until July 1964 (when she resigned to run unsuccessfully against Philip Hart for his United States Senate seat). She was re-appointed assistant chairman in 1969 serving until December 1970 when she temporarily retired from partisan politics. As assistant chairman, Peterson was responsible for the Action Now program that was established to involve special voter groups in party politics.

During the next several years in the 1970s, Peterson was involved in a number of different women's organizations. Beginning in 1972, Peterson was a member of Delegation for Friendship Among Women and made trips to China and to many of the countries of the Middle East. The purpose of each visit was to promote international friendship among women. In 1974, she served as organizational director of the National Center for Voluntary Action; and in 1975, she contributed her talents to the American Women for International Understanding and the National Commission on the Observance of International Women's Year. Among all of the issues of this period, Peterson was undoubtedly most devoted to passage of the Equal Rights Amendment. In 1976, she was made co-chair (along with Liz Carpenter) of ERAmerica, an organization established to "provide a national focus for the ERA ratification campaign and to channel money and resources into the unratified states." At that time, ratification of the amendment was stalled, and one of the purposes of ERAmerica was to pump money and enthusiasm into the ratification process. During her two years as co-chair, Peterson was a tireless speaker and effective advocate of the ERA. In 1978, Peterson resigned as co-chair but continued her advocacy in any way she thought useful.

In 1976, Peterson interrupted her retirement from Republican party politics when she accepted on an interim basis the position of deputy chairman of the President Ford Committee. In this organization set-up to run Gerald Ford's election campaign, Peterson was responsible for organizing special voter groups and group volunteers in the presidential campaign. Peterson resigned as deputy chairman after the nominating convention but continued on with People for Ford, an organization that drew together special interest voting blocs.

At the conclusion of the campaign, Peterson continued working for ERAmerica, and then with the failure of the amendment's passage, she devoted herself to civic and charitable organizational work.

From the guide to the Elly Peterson papers, 1943-2006, 1961-1980, (Bentley Historical Library University of Michigan)

Archival Resources
Role Title Holding Repository
referencedIn ERAmerica Records, 1974-1982 Library of Congress. Manuscript Division
referencedIn John Warner Fitzgerald papers, 1952-1982 Bentley Historical Library , University of Michigan
referencedIn Republican Party (Mich.) State Central Committee Records, 1958-1979, 1962-1978. Bentley Historical Library , University of Michigan
creatorOf Elly Peterson papers, 1943-2006, 1961-1980 Bentley Historical Library , University of Michigan
referencedIn Wilber M. Brucker Papers, 1877-1968 Bentley Historical Library , University of Michigan
creatorOf Peterson, Elly, 1914-. Elly Peterson papers, 1943-1997. University of Michigan, Bentley Historical Library
referencedIn ERAmerica (Organization). ERAmerica records, 1974-1982. Library of Congress
creatorOf Osborn, Stellanova, 1894-1988. Stellanova Osborn papers, 1916-1992. University of Michigan, Bentley Historical Library
referencedIn Michigan Political History Society oral history collection, 1995-2013 Bentley Historical Library , University of Michigan
referencedIn Stellanova Osborn papers, 1907-1988 Bentley Historical Library , University of Michigan
creatorOf Fitzgerald, John W. (John Warner), 1924-2006. John W. Fitzgerald papers, 1952-1965. University of Michigan, Bentley Historical Library
creatorOf Peterson, Elly, 1914-. Elly Peterson papers, 1943-1985. University of Michigan, Bentley Historical Library
referencedIn Records, 1966-1979 Schlesinger Library, Radcliffe Institute
creatorOf Republican Party (Mich.). State Central Committee. Republican Party (Mich.) State Central Committee records, ca. 1958-1979 (bulk 1962-1978). University of Michigan, Bentley Historical Library
creatorOf Republican Party (Mich.). State Central Committee. Republican Party (Mich.) State Central Committee records, 1920-1979. University of Michigan, Bentley Historical Library
referencedIn Papers, 1941-1995 Schlesinger Library, Radcliffe Institute
Role Title Holding Repository
Relation Name
associatedWith American Women for International Understanding. corporateBody
associatedWith Bliss, Ray Charles, 1907-1981. person
associatedWith Bolger, Ray. person
associatedWith Brooke, Edward William, 1919- person
associatedWith Brucker, Wilber Marion, 1894-1968 person
associatedWith Catherine East, 1916-1996 person
associatedWith Chafee, John H., 1922- person
associatedWith Dirksen, Everett McKinley. person
associatedWith ERAmerica (Organization) corporateBody
associatedWith Evans, Daniel J., 1925- person
associatedWith Fitzgerald, John W. (John Warner), 1924-2006. person
associatedWith Ford, Gerald R., 1913-2006. person
associatedWith Hart, Philip A. (Philip Aloysius), 1912-1976. person
associatedWith Michigan Political History Society. corporateBody
associatedWith Milliken, William G., 1922- person
associatedWith Morton, Thruston B. (Thruston Ballard), 1907-1982. person
associatedWith National Women's Conference 1977 : Houston, Tex.) corporateBody
associatedWith National Women's Conference (1st : 1977 : Houston, Tex.) corporateBody
associatedWith Nixon, Richard M. (Richard Milhous), 1913-1994. person
associatedWith Osborn, Stellanova, 1894-1988. person
associatedWith Percy, Charles H., 1919-2011. person
associatedWith Republican National Committee (U.S.) corporateBody
associatedWith Republican Party (Mich.) corporateBody
associatedWith Republican Party (Mich.). State Central Committee. corporateBody
associatedWith Republican Party (U.S. : 1854- ) corporateBody
associatedWith Riegle, Donald W., 1938- person
associatedWith Rockefeller, Nelson A. (Nelson Aldrich), 1908-1979. person
associatedWith Romney, George W., 1907-1995. person
associatedWith Romney, Lenore LaFount. person
associatedWith Romney, Lenore LaFount. person
associatedWith Stassen, Harold Edward, 1907-2001. person
associatedWith United States. Congress corporateBody
associatedWith Wilson, Robert Carlton, 1909- person
correspondedWith Women's Equity Action League corporateBody
Place Name Admin Code Country
United States
Michigan
United States
Michigan
China
United States
Michigan
China
China
Subject
Presidents--Elections--1968
Politicians--Michigan
Presidents--Election--1976
Elections--1962
Women--Political life
Political elections--1964
Children
Laborers
Politics and government
Rewards and prizes
Women in politics--Michigan
Presidents--United States--Election--1968
Elections--Michigan--1962
Railroad passenger cars
Women's rights
Women--Political activity
Graduation ceremonies
Presidents--Election--1964
Women--Work
Politicians
Equal rights amendments--United States
Women's rights--United States
Presidents--United States--Election--1964
Costume
Interiors
International Women's Year, 1975
Women
Presidents--United States--Election--1976
Occupation
Function

Person

Birth 1914-06-05

Death 2008-06-09

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