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Women of the Senate Oral History Project

To commemorate the centennial of the Nineteenth Amendment, ratified on August 18, 1920, and to recognize the first woman to serve in the U.S. Senate, Rebecca Felton, who took the oath of office on November 21, 1922, the Senate Historical Office is conducting oral histories with former senators, officers, and staff. The interviews included in this ongoing project document women’s impact on the institution and its legislative business. By recording and preserving their stories, we hope to develop a fuller, richer understanding of women’s role in the Senate and in governing the nation.

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Just 60 women have served in the Senate since the first woman took the oath of office in 1922. This collection of interviews captures some of their varied experiences, the challenges they faced, their unique perspectives on social and political issues of the day, and their impact on the institution and the country. From their decision to run for office to their committee assignments to their bonds with other senators, their stories are central to understanding Senate history.

Often working behind the scenes, Senate staff provide support that is essential to the institution’s operation. These interviews represent a diverse group of personalities who experienced firsthand the many challenges of life on Capitol Hill. Their recollections offer unique perspectives on the evolving role of women in the Senate, highlight their work on committees and in members’ offices, and bring attention to their countless other contributions.

Curated Video | Agenda
"Do women bring a particular agenda to the U.S. Senate?"

This curated video highlights how women senators and staff have understood their role in the Senate and presents their reflections on how the growing number of women in the Senate have at times subtly and at times directly shaped legislative agendas.