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Record Group Number: 900000
Series/Collection Number: N2004- 1
Creator: Crane, Ruth  Hanold, 1940-
Title, Dates: Ruth Bryan Owen papers, 1901-2008.
Amount: 1.50 cubic ft.
Medium Included:
Organization/Arrangement: Arranged by topic or  record type (correspondence, clippings, photographs, etc.).
Terms Governing Use:
Biographical/Historical:     Ruth Bryan Owen (Rohde) was born on October 2, 1885 in Jacksonville, Illinois. When she was two years old, her family moved to Lincoln, Nebraska. She was the oldest child of William Jennings Bryan and Mary Elizabeth Baird Bryan. William Jennings Bryan was a three-time Democratic presidential nominee and Secretary of State under Woodrow Wilson. Ruth Bryan Owen served as her father's secretary and campaign manager in his last presidential campaign. Thus, she had first-hand experience with politics and government and from childhood had developed an insider's view of politics.

    Ruth Bryan attended school at the Monticello Female Academy in Illinois and then at the University of Nebraska. After two years at Nebraska, she left to marry artist William Homer Leavitt. They had two children and divorced in 1909.

    Ruth Bryan then traveled to Germany to study and met a British officer, Major Reginald Owen, whom she married in 1910. During World War I, Major Owen was stationed in the Middle East while Ruth Bryan Owen spent time in England serving as secretary-treasurer of the American Woman's War Relief Fund, then served in Cairo, Egypt, as a Voluntary Aid Detachment (V.A.D.) war nurse during Britain's Egypt-Palestine campaign. After the war, she and her husband moved to Coconut Grove, Florida, to live with her parents. Ruth Owen began a career as a lecturer and in 1925 became vice-chairman of the Board of Regents at the University of Miami. She also taught public speaking at the University of Miami from 1927-1928.

    After the death of Major Owen in 1927, Ruth Owen decided to run for political office. In 1929, Owen won election to the 71st Congress and then the 72nd Congress as the representative of Florida's Fourth Congressional District, which included the coastal counties from Duval to Monroe along Florida's east coast. She was the first congresswoman elected from the South, and she was one of the first to concentrate on feminist issues. She introduced legislation to create a cabinet-level Department of Home and Child. She was the first woman to serve on a major congressional committee, the Foreign Affairs Committee. She sponsored numerous bills including the proposal designating the Florida Everglades as a national park. She lost her run for a third term, primarily because of her support of Prohibition.

    In 1933, President Franklin D. Roosevelt appointed her as Minister to Denmark. This made her the first woman appointed to represent the United States in that high a diplomatic post. She served until 1936 when she married a Danish citizen, Captain Borge Rohde. Due to the marriage, she had to resign the post of Minister because of dual citizenship. In 1949, Owen became an alternate delegate to the United Nation's General Assembly by President Truman. In 1954, Ruth Bryan Owen died at the age of 68 while visiting Denmark to receive an order of merit recognizing her contribution to Danish-American friendship. She is buried near Copenhagen.

    The materials in this collection were donated to the Florida State Archives by Ruth Hanold Crane, the granddaughter of Lorraine Comstock Evarts. Mrs. Evarts met Ruth Bryan at the University of Nebraska as students and they became good friends. Ruth Hanold Crane's mother, Ruth Lorraine Evarts Hanold, was named for Ruth Bryan Owen. Ruth Lorraine Hanold also collected the bulk of the material that was donated to the Archives.

Summary:     This collection contains correspondence, news clippings, subject files, and photographs documenting Ruth Bryan Owen's career as a World War I nurse, legislator, diplomat, educator, and public speaker. Materials of interest include clippings and correspondence from her career as a Representative from Florida in Washington, D.C.; clippings of her career in the Foreign Service to Denmark and the United Nations; and biographical and genealogical information.

Finding Aids: Folder listing available. 0
Additional Physical Form:
Reproduction Note:
Location of Originals/Duplicates:
Associated Materials: For more materials on Ruth Bryan Owens, see Collection N2020-3, James Rider Roy Correspondence from Ruth Bryan Owen, 1930-1934 (0.1 cubic foot).
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Ownership/Custodial History:
Publication Note:
General Note:
Electronic Records Access:
Subject Access Fields: Owen, Ruth Bryan, 1885-1954.
Political campaigns.
Women History 20th century Florida
Women legislators Florida
Clippings. aat
Photographs. aat
Letters. aat
Miami (Fla.)
Added Entries Owen, Ruth Bryan, 1885-1954.