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Oral History Project

Donald J. Detwiler Senate Page (1917–1918)

Image of Donald J. Detwiler

The uniformed pages who sit on the steps around the presiding officer's chair represent an old tradition in the United States Senate. Since Daniel Webster appointed nine-year-old Grafton Hanson as the first page in 1829, pages have served in and about the Senate Chamber, running errands, carrying messages, sorting papers, filling ink wells and snuff boxes, and doing whatever tasks were assigned to them. Donald J. Detwiler served as a Senate page from 1917 to 1918 during momentous years for the Congress and for the nation. Born in Toronto, Canada, in 1903, Detwiler spent his early years in Kansas City. At the age of 14, Detwiler received the opportunity of a lifetime when his father, a Kansas City attorney, arranged for his appointment as a Senate page under the patronage of Kansas's senior senator, William H. Thompson. On November 28, 1917, Donald, in the company of his mother and younger brother, boarded a train for Chicago and thence to the nation's capital. In this interview he recounts, with great clarity and insight, the subsequent events and images of his tenure as a page.


Scholarly citation: "Donald J. Detwiler: Senate Page (1917–1918),” Oral History Interview, August 8, 1985, Senate Historical Office, Washington, D.C.

Disclaimer: The Senate Historical Office has a strong commitment to oral history as an important part of its efforts to document institutional change over time. Oral histories are a natural component to historical research and enhance the archival holdings of the Senate and its members. Oral histories represent the personal recollections and opinions of the interviewees, however, and should not be considered as the official views or opinions of the U.S. Senate, of the Senate Historical Office, or of other senators and/or staff members. The transcripts of these oral histories are made available by the Senate Historical Office as a public service.