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A Pioneer on Senate Staff

In 1901 Leona Wells joined the Senate staff, beginning a long tenure of Senate employment that lasted until 1930. First hired by Senator Francis E. Warren of Wyoming, Wells was one of the first women to gain a professional clerical position. She gained notoriety in 1911 when the Boston Daily Globe named her “Uncle Sam’s Highest Salaried Woman.” When Senator Warren became chairman of the Senate Committee on Military Affairs in 1905, the newspaper reported, Wells “became the first woman employee of the Senate to be placed in charge of the affairs of a big committee,” noting that, "every bit of legislation in any way affecting the army...has passed through her hands." Wells was not allowed access to the Senate Chamber, however, even to discuss committee business. She routinely waited just outside the chamber door to follow debate and send messages to Senator Warren.