Roberts, Barbara, 1936-

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Barbara Kay Roberts (née Hughey; born December 21, 1936) is an American politician from the state of Oregon. A native of the state, she served as the 34th Governor of Oregon from 1991 to 1995. She was the first woman to serve as Oregon governor, and the only woman elected to that office until 2016. A Democrat, Roberts was also the first woman to serve as majority leader in the Oregon House of Representatives. She also won two terms as Oregon Secretary of State, and served in local and county government in Portland. Roberts was married to Oregon state Sen. Frank L. Roberts from 1974 until his death in 1993. From February 2011 until January 2013, she served on the council of Metro, the regional government in the Portland metropolitan area.

Born in Corvallis, Oregon, Roberts grew up there, in Los Angeles, California, Gold Creek, Oregon, and finally Sheridan, Oregon, where she graduated from Sheridan High School. After briefly moving to Texas with her first husband, she settled in Portland, Oregon, where Roberts attended Portland State University from 1961 to 1964. A mother of an autistic son, Roberts became an advocate for special needs children. In 1973, a year after divorcing her first husband, she was elected to Parkrose School Board and, later, to the Mount Hood Community College board. In 1974, she married Oregon state representative and later state senator Frank L. Roberts, who became her political mentor. In 1981, she was elected to the Oregon House of Representatives as a Democrat, was re-elected in 1983, and was elected Majority Leader, Oregon's first woman to hold that post.

In 1984, Roberts was elected as Oregon Secretary of State, the first Democrat elected to that post in over 100 years, and was re-elected in 1988. Shortly after incumbent Democratic Gov. Neil Goldschmidt announced that he would not seek a second term as governor, Roberts announced her candidacy in the 1990 Oregon gubernatorial election. She ran unopposed in the Democratic primary and went on to win the November general election, becoming the first woman elected Governor of Oregon. Owing to her unpopularity and breaking a campaign promise not to cut spending, Roberts decided not to seek reelection in 1994.

Soon after she left office, Roberts accepted a position at the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University as director of the Harvard Program for Senior Executives in State and Local Government and later as a senior fellow to the Women and Public Policy Program. In 1998, Roberts joined Portland State University's Hatfield School of Government's Executive Leadership Institute as Associate Director of Leadership Development. In early 2011, Roberts returned to government service, as a member of the six-person Metro council, the Portland metropolitan area's elected regional government. Appointed to the position, her term ended in January 2013.

Archival Resources
Role Title Holding Repository
referencedIn Gail Shibley collection, 1990-2007 Oregon Historical Society Research Library
referencedIn Wauregan and Quinebaug Company., 1795-1979. Archives & Special Collections at the Thomas J. Dodd Center.
referencedIn Dennis A. “Denny” Smith papers, 1979-1991, 1984-1990 Willamette University Archives and Special Collections
referencedIn Records of, Sojourner, (inclusive), (bulk), 1920-2004, 1975-2002 Arthur and Elizabeth Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America‏
creatorOf Barbara Roberts Papers, 1870-2011, 1978-2010 Portland State University LibrarySpecial Collections & University Archives
referencedIn Spotted Owl Management, Policy, and Research Collection, 1969-1993 (bulk: 1983-1993) Oregon State University Libraries University Archives
referencedIn Shibley, Gail. Gail Shibley collection, 1990-2007. Oregon Historical Society Research Library
referencedIn Women's Economic Round Table. Records, 1976-2005 (bulk: 1978-2004) Arthur and Elizabeth Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America‏
creatorOf Roberts, Barbara, 1936-. Barbara Roberts : commercials , 1990. University of Oklahoma, Political Community Archives
referencedIn Richard Sanders photographic collection on Governor Barbara Roberts, circa 1991- 2001 Oregon Historical Society Research Library
referencedIn Sanders, Richard (Richard S.),. Richard Sanders photographic collection on Governor Barbara Roberts [graphic], circa 1991- 2001. Oregon Historical Society Research Library
Role Title Holding Repository
Relation Name
associatedWith Clinton, William J. (William Jefferson), 1946- person
associatedWith Ferraro, Geraldine person
associatedWith Human Rights Campaign (U.S.). Foundation corporateBody
almaMaterOf Marylhurst College, Marylhurst, Ore. corporateBody
associatedWith Meslow, E. Charles. person
associatedWith National Society for Autistic Children (U.S.) corporateBody
associatedWith Oregon. Governor (1991-1995 : Roberts) corporateBody
associatedWith Oregon. Land Board, State corporateBody
associatedWith Oregon. Legislative Assembly. House of Representatives. corporateBody
associatedWith Oregon. Secretary of State (1985-1991 : Roberts) corporateBody
almaMaterOf Portland State university corporateBody
associatedWith Portland State University corporateBody
associatedWith Quinebaug Company. corporateBody
spouseOf Roberts, Frank L., 1915-1993 person
associatedWith Sanders, Richard (Richard S.), person
associatedWith Sanders, Richard (Richard S.), photographer. person
associatedWith Shibley, Gail person
associatedWith Shibley, Gail. person
associatedWith Smith, Dennis A. person
associatedWith Sojourner (Cambridge, Mass.) corporateBody
associatedWith University of Oklahoma. Political Commercial Archive. corporateBody
associatedWith Wauregan Company. corporateBody
associatedWith Wauregan Mills. corporateBody
associatedWith Wauregan-Quinebaug Company. corporateBody
associatedWith Women's Economic Round Table corporateBody
Place Name Admin Code Country
Sheridan OR US
Los Angeles CA US
Cambridge MA US
Corvallis OR US
Portland OR US
Democratic party (Or.)
Oregon Progress Board
Civic Activism
Television advertising
Autism--Government policy
Political Campaigns
Portland State University. Hatfield School of Government
Spotted owl--Oregon
Women Politicians--Oregon
Advertising, political
Harvard University. John F. Kennedy School of Government
State Representative
State Government Official


Birth 1936-12-21






Ark ID: w6b09w6s

SNAC ID: 85375225