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Oral History Project | Women of the Senate

Elizabeth Letchworth Senate Page; Floor Assistant; Republican Party Secretary (1975–2001)

Image of Elizabeth Letchworth: Page, Floor Assistant, Republican Party Secretary (1975–2000)

During her 26 years in the Senate, Elizabeth Letchworth observed major changes in the institution. In this oral history, she describes the rising prominence of women in positions of power, the introduction of television and its impact on the quality of Senate debate, and technological advances that helped leaders organize and communicate more effectively with members and their staff. Beginning as a page in Hugh Scott’s office, Letchworth worked with Republican leaders Howard Baker, Bob Dole, and Trent Lott, and she describes the ways in which their individual qualities helped shape legislative outcomes during their tenure. The role of party secretary, Letchworth says, is to be the leader's “eyes and ears on the floor.” This often meant addressing the concerns of individual members—either related to scheduling conflicts, or objections to legislation—before they became major issues. The demands of the job are many, including earning the trust of members, exercising discretion, and above all, learning the rhythms of an unpredictable institution. Senator Lott once told a staffer, “I have never met anybody who can read the Senate as well as [Elizabeth] can.”

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Scholarly citation: "Elizabeth Letchworth: Page, Floor Assistant, Republican Party Secretary (1975–2011)," Oral History Interviews, October 5, 2010, to March 21, 2012, 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.