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Historical Data

Familial Connections of Women Representatives and Senators in Congress

Through the start of the 111th Congress in 2009, 46 women have directly succeeded their late husbands in Congress (38 in the House and eight in the Senate). Seven widows have represented California—more than any other state—including the first two in the House, Mae Ella Nolan (1923–1925) and Florence Prag Kahn (1925–1937). In 1931, Hattie Caraway of Arkansas became the first widow to succeed her late husband in the Senate. The following charts contain lists of all widows who have served in Congress as well as other family connections pertinent to women in Congress.

Widows Who Directly Succeeded Their Late Husbands

First Elected Congress Name (Party, State) Chamber
67th (1921–1923) Mae Ella Nolan (R-CA) Representative
69th (1925–1927) Florence P. Kahn (R-CA) Representative
69th (1925–1927) Edith Nourse Rogers (R-MA) Representative
70th (1927–1929) Pearl Oldfield (D-AR) Representative
71st (1929–1931) Effiegene Locke Wingo (D-AR) Representative
72nd (1931–1933) Hattie Wyatt Caraway (D-AR) Senator
72nd (1931–1933) Willa McCord Blake Eslick (D-TN) Representative
73rd (1933–1935) Marian Williams Clarke (R-NY) Representative
74th (1935–1937) Rose McConnell Long (D-LA) Senator
75th (1937–1939) Elizabeth H. Gasque (D-SC) Representative
76th (1939–1941) Frances Payne Bolton (R-OH) Representative
76th (1939–1941) Florence Reville Gibbs (D-GA) Representative
76th (1939–1941) Clara G. McMillan (D-SC) Representative
76th (1939–1941) Margaret Chase Smith (R-ME) 1 Representative
77th (1941–1943) Veronica Grace Boland (D-PA) Representative
77th (1941–1943) Katharine Edgar Byron (D-MD) Representative
78th (1943–1945) Willa Lybrand Fulmer (D-SC) Representative
80th (1947–1949) Vera Cahalan Bushfield (R-SD) Senator
82nd (1951–1953) Vera Daerr Buchanan (D-PA) Representative
82nd (1951–1953) Marguerite Stitt Church (R-IL) Representative
82nd (1951–1953) Maude Elizabeth Kee (D-WV) Representative
83rd (1953–1955) Mary E. (Betty) Farrington (R-HI)2 Representative
84th (1955–1957) Kathryn E. Granahan (D-PA) Representative
86th (1959–1961) Maurine B. Neuberger (D-OR)3 Senator
86th (1959–1961) Edna O. Simpson (R-IL) Representative
87th (1961–1963) Catherine D. Norrell (D-AR) Representative
87th (1961–1963) Louise G. Reece (R-TN) Representative
87th (1961–1963) Corinne Boyd Riley (D-SC) Representative
88th (1963–1965) Irene Bailey Baker (R-TN) Representative
89th (1965–1967) Lera Millard Thomas (D-TX) Representative
92nd (1971–1973) Elizabeth Bullock Andrews (D-AL) Representative
93rd (1973–1975) Corinne Claiborne (Lindy) Boggs(D-LA) Representative
93rd (1973–1975) Cardiss Collins (D-IL) Representative
94th (1975–1977) Shirley N. Pettis (R-CA) Representative
95th (1977–1979) Maryon Pittman Allen (D-AL) Senator
95th (1977–1979) Beverly Butcher Byron (D-MD) Representative
95th (1977–1979) Muriel Humphrey (D-MN) Senator
97th (1981–1983) Jean Spencer Ashbrook (R-OH) Representative
98th (1983–1985) Sala Galante Burton (D-CA) Representative
99th (1985–1987) Catherine S. Long (D-LA) Representative
102nd (1991–1993) Jocelyn Birch Burdick (D-ND) Senator
104th (1995–1997) Jo Ann Emerson (R-MO) Representative
105th (1997–1999) Mary Bono Mack (R-CA) Representative
105th (1997–1999) Lois Capps (D-CA) Representative
107th (2001–2003) Jean Carnahan (D-MO)4 Senator
109th (2005–2007) Doris Matsui (D-CA) Representative

Wives Who Directly Succeeded Husbands Who Were Members of or Nominees to Congress

Dates of Service Name Chamber
1927–1931 Katherine Gudger Langley (R-KY)5 Representative
1963–1971 Charlotte T. Reid (R-IL)6 Representative
1975–1995 Marilyn Lloyd (D-TN)7 Representative

Widows Who Followed Late Husbands into Congress Without Directly Succeeding Them

Dates of Service Name Chamber
1929–1931 Ruth Hanna McCormick (R-IL)8 Representative
1953–1977 Leonor K. Sullivan (D-MO)9 Representative
2007–present Nicola S. (Niki) Tsongas (D-MA)10 Representative

Wives Appointed to the Senate by Their Husband

Dates of Service Name Chamber
1937 Dixie Bibb Graves (D-AL) Senator
1972 Elaine S. Edwards (D-LA) Senator

Women Members Married to Other Members of Congress

Dates of Service Name Chamber
1929–1931 Ruth Hanna McCormick (R-IL)11 Representative
1945–1947 Emily Taft Douglas12 Representative
1975–1979 Martha Elizabeth Keys (D-KS)13 Representative
1978–1997 Nancy Landon Kassebaum (R-KS)14 Senator
1979–1995 (House)
1995–present (Senate)
Olympia Jean Snowe (R-ME)15 Representative/Senator
1990–1997 Susan Molinari (R-NY)16 Representative
1993–1995 Marjorie Margolies-Mezvinsky (D-PA)17 Representative
2003–2009 Elizabeth Dole (R-NC)18 Senator
2004–present Stephanie Herseth Sandlin (D-SD)19 Representative
1998–present Mary Bono Mack (R-CA)20 Representative

Women Members Who Gave Birth While Serving in Congress

Dates of Service Name Chamber
1973–1979 Yvonne Brathwaite Burke (D-CA) Representative
1990–1997 Susan Molinari (R-NY) Representative
1995–1997; 1998–present Blanche Lambert Lincoln (D-AR) Representative/Senator
1995–1997 Enid Greene Waldholtz (R-UT) Representative
2003–present Linda T. Sánchez (D-CA) Representative
2004–present Stephanie Herseth Sandlin (D-SD) Representative
2005–present Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA) Representative
2007–2009; 2009–present Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) Representative/Senator

Daughters Who Directly Succeeded their Fathers in Congress

Women Members of Congress Whose Fathers Preceded Them as Representatives or Senators

Women Members Whose Children Have Served in Congress

Women Members Whose Siblings Have Served in Congress


  1. Smith served in the House from 1940 to 1949 and then won election to the Senate, where she served from 1949 to 1973.
  2. Territorial delegate.
  3. Neuberger was not immediately appointed to succeed her husband Richard Neuberger after he died in early 1960. However, she won the general election in November 1960 to serve the remainder of her husband's unexpired term in the 86th Congress and a full six-year term commencing on January 3, 1961.
  4. Mel Carnahan was killed in a plane crash less than two weeks before the election for the Missouri Senate seat he was running for. His name remained on the ticket, and he posthumously defeated incumbent John Ashcroft by a narrow margin. Governor Roger Wilson appointed Jean Carnahan to her husband's vacant seat. Carnahan's re-election bid in a special election held in 2002 was unsuccessful.
  5. Her husband, John Wesley Langley, had won re-election to the House in 1924 for Kentucky's 10th District but was convicted of conspiring to transport and sell liquor in violation of the Volstead Act. He was placed in a federal penitentiary in Atlanta before his term expired. Katherine Langley ran successfully for his seat in 1926 and was re-elected in the 71st Congress in 1928.
  6. The GOP nominee for Illinois' 15th District, Frank R. Reid, Jr., died in August 1962 while campaigning for the open seat. Republican officials convinced his widow, Charlotte Reid, to replace him on the ticket.
  7. Just weeks after securing the Democratic nomination to challenge Republican incumbent Lamar Baker in Tennessee's 3rd District, Mort Lloyd was killed in a plane crash. Democratic leaders convinced his widow, Marilyn Lloyd, to replace him on the ticket.
  8. Ruth Hanna McCormick won election in 1928 to one of Illinois' two At-Large House seats. Her husband, Joseph Medill McCormick, had served one term each in the House (1917–1919) and the Senate (1919–1925). He died days before his Senate term expired in February 1925.
  9. John B. Sullivan died in January 1951, but Leonor Sullivan could not convince Missouri 3rd District Democrat leaders to give her the nomination for the special election. In November 1952, after redistricting merged her husband's old district with another, she defeated GOP incumbent Claude I. Bakewell, who had succeeded John Sullivan in the 82nd Congress.
  10. Nicola Tsongas was elected to a House seat covering a Massachusetts congressional district once represented by her late husband, Paul Tsongas. Paul Tsongas served in the House from 1975 to 1979 and, later, in the Senate from 1979 to 1985. He died in 1997.
  11. (See note 8 above.) Ruth Hanna McCormick married Rep. Albert Simms, who had served one term in the House with her in the 71st Congress (1929–1931), in March 1932.
  12. Married to Sen. Paul Douglas (D-IL, 1949–1967).
  13. Married Rep. Andrew Jacobs (D-IN, 1965–1973, 1975–1997) in 1975 while both were serving in the House.
  14. Married Sen. Howard Baker (R-TN, 1967–1985) in 1996 after he left office but while she still was in the Senate. They had served together six years.
  15. Married Rep. John McKernan, Jr. (R-ME, 1983–1987) in 1989, after he had left the House and was serving as governor of Maine, but while Snowe was still in the House. They had served together four years.
  16. Married Rep. Bill Paxon (R-NY, 1989–1999) in 1994 while both were serving in the House.
  17. Preceded in the House by her husband, Rep. Ed Mezvinsky (D-IA, 1973–1977).
  18. Preceded in the Senate by her husband, Robert J. Dole (R-KS), who served in the House from 1961 to 1969 and the Senate from 1969 to 1996.
  19. Stephanie Herseth married Rep. Max Sandlin (D-TX, 1997–2005) in 2007. They served together for one year in the House.
  20. Mary Bono married Rep. Connie Mack IV (R-FL, 2005–present) in 2007. They are currently serving together in the House.
  21. They were the only mother–son pair to serve simultaneously.
  22. James Kee was the first son to directly succeed his mother in Congress.