Image courtesy of Library of Congress
Left to right: Alice Robertson of Oklahoma, Mae Ella Nolan of California, and Winnifred Mason Huck of Illinois pose on the House front steps of the U.S. Capitol, February 15, 1923.
On this date, Representatives Alice Robertson
of Oklahoma, Mae Nolan
of California, and Winnifred Mason Huck
of Illinois posed on the front steps of the House entrance of the U.S. Capitol. For the first time in congressional history, three women served in the House. Elected to the 67th Congress
(1921–1923), the first Congress since women gained the right to vote nationally, their service in Congress was notable but brief. Robertson served only one term, but became the first woman to preside over the House. Huck was the first woman to succeed her father in Congress. Of these women pioneers, Nolan was arguably the most noteworthy: the first widow to succeed her husband in Congress; the first woman to serve multiple terms; and the first to chair a House committee—Expenditures in the Post Office Department
. As pioneers, all three were media curiosities. Robertson was by far the most colorful and quotable. Robertson said shortly after the 1920 election, “I would rather be like a humble little light that shines a long distance across the prairies than a brilliant sky rocket that flashes in midair for a few seconds and then falls to the earth with a dull thud. If people think that I am going to do something sensational they are mistaken. I am a conservative.”