1951 : Ruth Thompson from Whitehall Becomes Michigan’s First Congresswoman

January 3, 2023 all-day

Ruth Thompson became Michigan’s first woman in Congress when voters elected her to the U.S. House of Representatives in 1950. A Whitehall native, Thompson (1887 – 1970) spent her entire working life as a public servant. While serving three terms as a Muskegon County probate judge (1925 – 1937), she gained national recognition as an advocate for children’s rights. Thompson was elected the county’s first female state representative in 1938. During and after World War II she worked as a civilian employee of the U.S. Army in Washington D.C. and in Europe. Upon taking Congregational office on January 3, 1951, she received the first House Judiciary Committee appointment granted to a women. Reelected for two subsequent terms, Thompson lost her primary bid for a fourth term in 1956 and returned to her home in Whitehall.

Sources :

Ruth Thompson, Michigan’s First Congresswoman, Michigan Historical Markers website.

Ruth Thompson entry, U.S. House of Representatives History, Art, and Archives website.

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