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Ruth Cowan, the only daughter of William Henry and Ida (Baldwin) Cowan, was born in Salt Lake City, Utah, on June 15, probably in 1901. Although the family was not Catholic, IBC, a former teacher, placed RBCN in St. Mary's Academy, a convent school. RBCN attended the school until the death of her father, a mining prospector, in 1911; she and her mother then moved to Florida to establish a homestead. After a few years they returned to Salt Lake City, and RBCN re-enrolled in St. Mary's. After she completed the 7th and 8th grades, they moved to San Antonio, TX., where RBCN boarded in the Ursuline Academy; she never lived with her mother again. She later worked in the book section of a department store while attending St. Michael's (1916), and then transferred to public school.

While attending Main Avenue High School (1917-1919), RBCN was invited by Elva Cunningham, president of the San Antonio Parent Teachers Association, to live with the Cunningham family (Elva, husband John, three sons, and Elva's sister, Mary Carter). The Cunninghams became a second family. After completing high school in two years, RBCN attended the University of Texas at Austin (1919-1923), working her way through with a variety of jobs. While there she added the middle name "Barbara," but later changed it to "Baldwin" to please her mother.

Following her graduation in 1923, she again lived with the Cunninghams and taught high school for two years before embarking on her journalism career. Beginning as a weekend movie reviewer, RBCN soon became a reporter for the San Antonio Evening News, as well as a free-lancer -- using the name Baldwin Cowan -- for The Houston Chronicle and other papers. Her coverage of the 1928 Democratic National Convention in Houston resulted in a job offer from United Press (UP). When her superiors at UP discovered that "Baldwin Cowan" was a woman, they transferred her briefly to Austin to cover the state legislature until it adjourned, at which time she was let go; UP refused to have women on its staff. She promptly contacted Kent Cooper of the Associated Press (AP), who offered her a job. She worked as an AP reporter for the next 27 years, covering a wide range of people and events, including gangsters in Chicago, Washington social life, Eleanor Roosevelt's press conferences, and various "human interest" stories. She is perhaps best known for her work as an overseas war correspondent during World War II.

After covering the introduction and eventual passage (in May 1942) of the bill establishing the Women's Army Auxiliary Corps (WAACs, which became the Women's Army Corps, or WACs, in September 1943), RBCN requested that she be sent to accompany the first WAAC contingent to go overseas. She received permission from long-time friend and fellow Texan Oveta Culp Hobby, director of the WAACs; AP approval followed. RBCN and Inez Robb of the International News Service, the first women to be accredited as U.S. Army war correspondents, were required to wear military uniforms, and were subject to military rules and regulations. In January 1943 the contingent landed in North Africa. In May, RBCN moved to England, where she covered the arrival of WAACs in London, and preparations for the invasion of the continent; she took several trips to Normandy during the early days of the landing. In September 1944 she moved to France; she was in Paris during the liberation.

Before returning home in April 1945, RBCN covered stories from Germany, Luxembourg, Italy, the Riviera, and London. Many of her dispatches were about women and the war effort: WACs, nurses, English and Polish women in the military, and women in the French resistance. She also wrote of wounded soldiers, military field hospitals, new treatment methods and medicines, and the effects of war on civilians. In addition to the many limitations placed on women correspondents by the War Department and individual Army officers, at times RBCN encountered considerable resistance from the AP itself. She wrote the AP to protest (see #101), and later recounted some of her difficulties in a memoir (#453-454) and interviews (#6-9at). Her determination and resourcefulness are described in books by Julia Edwards and Lilya Wagner (see below).

After two years and four months overseas, RBCN was re-assigned to AP's Washington bureau. After the war RBCN covered the Pentagon, the House Armed Services Committee, and other military news. Eventually she resumed coverage of the White House, visits of foreign heads of state and ambassadors, and of what she called the "woman's angle": women's organizations, women in politics, social news, etc. She was active in several professional associations, including the Women's National Press Club, which she served as president, 1947-1948. Founded in 1919, the WNPC functioned as the women's equivalent of the National Press Club and the Gridiron Club, from which women were excluded. From a club specifically for "newspaper women," it evolved along with the changing news media to an association for "women professionally engaged in the gathering and dissemination of news." The WNPC decided to include men in 1971, and was renamed the Washington Press Club (WPC); it merged with the National Press Club in 1985. The WPC transferred its assets to the Washington Press Club Foundation, "a nonprofit corporation that exists to promote the ideals of equality and excellence that inspired the initial founders of the WNPC." The WNPC sponsored luncheons for members and guests featuring newsworthy figures (e.g., General George C. Marshall, Barbara Ward, James Forrestal, Eleanor Roosevelt), and held an annual "stunt party" that was well-attended by the Washington political elite, including President Truman and his family. In June 1956, RBCN had to retire, as AP pension rules required that women retire at 55, though men could work until they were 65. She married Bradley De Lamater Nash (Harvard AB 23), an expert in government operations who served in every administration from Coolidge through Eisenhower. They moved to High Acres Farm in Harper's Ferry, West Virginia, but RBCN's retirement did not last long. In May 1957 she became a public relations consultant to the Republican National Committee, and a year later followed Bertha Adkins (BA) to the U.S. Department of Health, Education, and Welfare (HEW), serving as BA's confidential administrative assistant until retiring once more in January 1961.

BA, formerly assistant chairman of the RNC, assumed her HEW post in August 1958. Her areas of responsibility included the Federal Council on Aging (established in 1956); the Committee for Rural Development (established in Oct. 1959); the Interdepartmental Committee to Coordinate Urban Area Assistance Programs; the Joint Committee for Rural Development and Urban Area Assistance Programs; and the White House Conference on Children and Youth (WHCCY) and White House Conference on Aging. RBCN's expertise and thoroughness in helping to develop and monitor agency policies, while foreseeing the political and social implications of those policies, is portrayed in Series VII. During this time (1958-1961), RBCN also served on the Defense Advisory Committee on Women in the Services (DACOWITS).

In retirement, RBCN was active in various organizations in the Harper's Ferry area, and traveled to Eastern Europe in 1969; BDN was mayor of Harper's Ferry for many years. In 1984, the Nashes gave 50 acres to the National Park Service (NPS) for a wildlife preserve in Harper's Ferry, dedicated to RBCN and Senator Jennings Randolph's late wife, Mary Babb Randolph. RBCN also worked to make High Acres Farm into a bird and wildlife sanctuary, which the Nashes plan to bequeath to the NPS and the Department of Natural Resources in West Virginia. Ruth Cowan Nash died in her sleep of natural causes on February 5, 1993.

1916 St. Michael's (San Antonio) 1917-1919 Main Avenue High School (San Antonio) 1919-1922 University of Texas (Austin) Summer 1923 Summer school at UTA and B.A. 1916-1922 Department store clerk, library bookkeeper, various other jobs 1923-1926 Teacher, Main Ave. High School; movie reviewer for San Antonio Evening News (beginning 1924) 1926-1929 San Antonio Evening News staff; free-lance journalism Jan.-Apr. 1929 Reporter for United Press Apr. 1929 - Jan. 1940 Reporter, Associated Press, Chicago bureau Jan. 1940 - Jan. 1943 Reporter, Associated Press, Washington bureau Jan. 1943 - May 1945 Overseas war correspondent, Associated Press Summer 1945 - June 1956 Reporter, Associated Press, Washington bureau 1947-1948 President, Women's National Press Club 1948, 1949 Visits military installations in West Indies as AP Pentagon correspondent June 1956 Compulsory retirement from AP; marries Bradley D. Nash May 1957 - Aug. 1958 Consultant, Public Relations, for Republican National Committee Sept. 1958 - Jan. 1961 Confidential administrative assistant to Bertha Adkins Under Secretary of HEW. 1958-1961 Member, DACOWITS 1993 Dies in Harper's Ferry, West Virginia, Feb. 5

For additional biographical information, see #1-10; Julia Edwards, Women of the World: The Great Foreign Correspondents (Boston: Houghton-Mifflin, 1988); Libya Wagner, Women War Correspondents of World War II (Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press, 1989); and entries in various Who's Who . The professional papers of Bradley D. Nash are in the Herbert Hoover Library in West Branch, Iowa.

From the guide to the Papers, ca.1905-1989, (Schlesinger Library, Radcliffe Institute)

Archival Resources
Role Title Holding Repository
creatorOf Papers, ca.1905-1989 Arthur and Elizabeth Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America‏
Role Title Holding Repository
Relation Name
associatedWith Adkins, Bertha Sheppard, 1906-1983 person
associatedWith Albert, Irene person
associatedWith American Newspaper Women's Club corporateBody
associatedWith American Red Cross corporateBody
associatedWith Arne, Sigrid person
associatedWith Associated Press corporateBody
associatedWith Beale, William L., Jr. person
associatedWith Benson, Flora person
associatedWith Bergman, Ingrid, 1915- person
associatedWith Bolton, Frances Payne Bingham, 1885-1977 person
associatedWith Bonnier, Tora person
associatedWith Bradley, Omar Nelson, 1893-1981 person
associatedWith Bunnelle, Robert person
associatedWith Canadian Red Cross corporateBody
associatedWith Coe, Richard L. person
associatedWith Cooper, Kent, 1880-1965 person
associatedWith Cowan, Ida (Baldwin), 1865-1944 person
associatedWith Davis, Robert person
associatedWith Deadline Delayed corporateBody
associatedWith Dewey, Thomas E. (Thomas Edmund), 1902-1971 person
associatedWith Dierks, Barry person
associatedWith Dunnigan, Alice Allison, 1906- person
associatedWith Eisenhower, Dwight D. (Dwight David), 1890-1969 person
correspondedWith Eleanor Roosevelt person
associatedWith Estill, Alice King person
associatedWith Federal Council on Aging (U.S.) corporateBody
associatedWith Fleeson, Doris person
associatedWith Forrestal, James, 1892-1949 person
associatedWith Fry, Grace person
associatedWith Furman, Bess, 1894- person
associatedWith Gingras, Angele de Tranaltes person
associatedWith Gould, Alan J. person
associatedWith Gray, Gordon person
associatedWith Gulick, Carol (Moffett) person
associatedWith Hackler, Victor person
associatedWith Hager, Alice Rogers person
associatedWith Hall, Nana person
associatedWith Harlow, Bryce L., 1949- person
associatedWith Harwell, Coleman person
associatedWith Helm, Edith person
associatedWith Herrick, Genevieve Forbes person
associatedWith Hickok, Lorena A person
associatedWith Hope, Pauline person
associatedWith Horak, Henriette person
associatedWith Hornaday, Mary person
associatedWith Hoskins, Samuel person
associatedWith Houston Chronicle corporateBody
associatedWith Howard, Katherine Graham, 1898- person
associatedWith Jagger, Claude A. person
associatedWith Jean E. Collins person
associatedWith Jones, Gladys Moon person
associatedWith Kennedy, Edward person
associatedWith Kennedy, Edward Moore, 1932- person
associatedWith Kernodle, Margaret person
associatedWith Landon, Alfred M. (Alfred Mossman), 1887-1987 person
associatedWith Landon, Margaret Fleming person
associatedWith Lochner, Louis Paul, 1887-1975 person
associatedWith Louchheim, Katie, 1903- person
associatedWith MacArthur, Douglas, 1880-1964 person
associatedWith Mackie, Albert David, 1904- person
associatedWith Mannon, Virginia M. person
associatedWith Margot Knight person
associatedWith Marshall, George C. (George Catlett), 1880-1959 person
associatedWith May, Geraldine P. person
associatedWith Maynor, Dorothy person
associatedWith McKee, Rose person
associatedWith McLaughlin, Kathleen person
associatedWith Mendes-France, Pierre person
associatedWith Mesta, Perle Skirvin, 1891- person
associatedWith Miller, Helen Hill, 1899- person
associatedWith Miller, Paul, 1906- person
associatedWith Mitchell, Ruth person
associatedWith Morgan, Gwen person
associatedWith Morse, True D. person
associatedWith Murrow, Edward R. person
associatedWith Nash, Bradley De Lamater, 1900- person
associatedWith Neuberger, Richard person
associatedWith Nixon, Richard M. (Richard Milhous), 1913- person
associatedWith Nordness, Ned person
associatedWith Norton, Mary Theresa, 1875-1959 person
associatedWith Overseas Press Club of America corporateBody
associatedWith Pace, Pearl Carter person
associatedWith Palencia, Senora Isabel de person
associatedWith Parks, F. L. person
associatedWith Patton, Beatrice person
associatedWith Pavlichenko, Liudmila person
associatedWith Perkins, Frances, 1882-1965 person
associatedWith Pohlman, Millie person
associatedWith Prewett, Virginia person
associatedWith Price, Byron, 1891- person
associatedWith Priest, Ivy Baker person
associatedWith Pyle, Ernie, 1900-1945 person
associatedWith Randolph, Jennings, 1902- person
associatedWith Rankin, Jeannette person
associatedWith Reading, Lady Stella person
associatedWith Reavis, Hazel person
associatedWith Republican National Committee (U.S.) corporateBody
associatedWith Roberts, Kenneth person
associatedWith Rogers, Edith Nourse person
associatedWith Roosevelt, Eleanor person
associatedWith Roosevelt, Elizabeth person
associatedWith Roosevelt, James person
associatedWith Roosevelt, Sara Delano person
associatedWith San Antonio Evening News corporateBody
associatedWith Sayre, Mrs. Raymond person
associatedWith Shaver, Dorothy person
associatedWith Shepard, Lily Lykes person
associatedWith Simons, Frieda Hennock, 1904-1960 person
associatedWith Smith, Helena Huntington person
associatedWith Smith, Margaret Chase, 1897- person
associatedWith Smith, Walter Bedell, 1895-1961 person
associatedWith Solomon, Gladis person
associatedWith Spaatz, Carl person
associatedWith Sparkman, Ivo person
associatedWith Starzel, Frank J. person
associatedWith Stassen, Esther person
associatedWith Stassen, Harold Edward, 1907- person
associatedWith Stearns, Jessie person
associatedWith Stevenson, Adlai person
associatedWith Stevenson, Ellen Borden person
associatedWith St. George, Katharine person
associatedWith Strom, Else person
associatedWith Sullivan, Leonor person
associatedWith Tabouis, Genevieve person
associatedWith Taft, Martha person
associatedWith Thompson, Malvina, 1893-1953 person
associatedWith Thomsen, Annelise person
associatedWith Tildy, Madame Zoltan person
associatedWith Troxel, Dorothy A. person
associatedWith Truman, Bess Wallace person
associatedWith Truman, Harry S., 1884-1972 person
associatedWith Truman, Margaret, 1924- person
associatedWith United Press Associations corporateBody
associatedWith Van Asch Van Wijck, Cornelia person
associatedWith Van Kleffens, Mme. Eelco Nicolaas person
associatedWith Vasilakos, Steve person
associatedWith Wallace, Henry person
associatedWith Washington Press Club Foundation corporateBody
associatedWith Webb, James Edwin person
associatedWith Weis, Jessica McCullough, 1901-1963 person
associatedWith Wells, Fay Gillis person
associatedWith Welsh, Estelle person
associatedWith Westlake, William person
associatedWith West, Rebecca, Dame, 1892- person
associatedWith Wheaton, Anne person
associatedWith White House Conference on Aging (1961: Washington, D.C.) corporateBody
associatedWith White House Conference on Children and Youth (1960: Washington, D.C.) corporateBody
associatedWith White, Katharine Elkers person
associatedWith Wickens, Aryness Joy, 1901- person
associatedWith Willis, Frances person
associatedWith Women's Press Club of London corporateBody
associatedWith Young, Marjorie W. (Marjorie Willis), 1902- person
associatedWith Zirbes, Laura, 1884-1967 person
Place Name Admin Code Country
United States. Department of Health, Education, and Welfare
United States. Army. Women's Army Auxiliary Corps
United States. Naval Reserve. Women's Reserve
United States. Army. Women's Army Corps
United States. Defense Advisory Committee on Women in the Services
United States
Washington, D.C.


Birth 1901

Death 1993

Related Descriptions


Ark ID: w6qw7sjn

SNAC ID: 5414000