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The Gracie Pfost

Collection


MSS 175


A Guide to her papers and memorabilia
at Boise State University


Gracie Pfost in 1954, Photo 54019



Biographical Sketch


Gracie Bowers Pfost, the first woman elected to Congress from Idaho, was born in Arkansas in 1906 and moved with her family to a farm in the Boise Valley in 1911. She attended Idaho public schools and graduated from Links Business College in Boise. In 1923 she married John (Jack) Pfost. They pronounced their last name Post, with the "f" silentAfter working as a chemist for a few years, she served as deputy clerk, auditor, and recorder for Canyon County, Idaho. Later, she opened her own real estate office. Pfost participated in numerous civic organizations, including the Business and Professional Women's Club and the Soroptimist Club. She was a delegate to the Democratic National Convention in 1944, and to every succeeding national convention through 1960. 


In 1940 Pfost was elected treasurer of Canyon County, Idaho. She held that position for 10 years. In 1950 she sought the seat for Idaho's First Congressional District. She lost in a close race to her opponent, Dr. John T. Wood. Not one to accept defeat, she ran again for the same seat in 1952. This time she defeated Wood. She was reelected in 1954 and again in 1956, 1958, and 1960.  


While in Congress, Pfost served on the Public Works and the Interior and Insular Affairs committees. She was chairman of the Subcommittee on Public Lands. She was the chief sponsor of a bill to authorize federal construction of a high dam at Idaho's Hells Canyon, which earned her the nickname "Hell's Belle." She also worked to improve retirement benefits for civil service employees, protect the lead and zinc mining industries, and protect the agricultural sector.  


In 1962, Pfost ran for the U.S. Senate, but lost to Republican Len B. Jordan. In 1963 President Kennedy appointed her as Special Assistant for Elderly Housing in the Federal Housing Administration. She served in that capacity until her death in 1965 from Hodgkin's Disease.


Sources:

Aiken, Katherine G. "Gender and the Congressional Career of Idaho's Gracie Pfost."   Journal of the West 42 (2003), 44-51.


Biographical Directory of the United States Congress, 1776-1989. Washington D.C.: U.S. Government Printing Office, 1989.




 The Collection


The Gracie Pfost collection at Boise State University consists chiefly of memorabilia from Pfost's political career in Canyon County, Congress, and the Federal Housing Administration. The papers include clippings, photos, invitations, tickets, programs, campaign literature, and the like. The collection also includes copies of several speeches before Congress, press releases, and pieces of legislation Pfost sponsored. The most notable of these are items centered on the Hells Canyon Bill, for which Pfost was the principal sponsor. Featured items also include a program from the 1945 Inaugural Dinner for President Franklin D. Roosevelt (autographed by Bob Hope and other entertainment figures), photos with President Eisenhower and Speaker of the House Sam Rayburn, and a telegram from President Kennedy congratulating her on her distinguished career as a Member of Congress.


A selection of sample documents and photos from the collection are mounted online on the Gracie Pfost Gallery.


This memorabilia was donated to Boise State University by Pfost's sister, Pearl Mabe, of Nampa, Idaho, in 1998. Gracie Pfost's official congressional papers are located in the University of Idaho Library in Moscow, Idaho.


Collection number: MSS 175
Inclusive dates: 1936-1973
Collection size: ca. 2 ft.
Processed by: Olivia Umphrey, 2007




Box and Folder List
 

Series I: Memorabilia

 

Box 1: Memorabilia 

Folder  1          1939-1949     Canyon County Treasurer
              2          1943                Idaho Business Women Newsletter
              3          1943                Clippings
              4          1944                Democratic National Convention (Chicago)
              5          1944                Clippings
              6          1945                1000 Club Dinner Booklet
              7          1945                Presidential Inauguration Material (Roosevelt)
              8          1948                Clippings
              9          1949                Democratic Digest
            10          1949                Clippings
            11          1950                Congressional Campaign
            12          1950                Correspondence
            13          1950                Miscellaneous
            14          1951                Clippings
            15          1952                Congressional Campaigns
            16          1952-?            Congressional Campaigns Multiple Years
            17          1953                Presidential Inauguration Material (Eisenhower)
            18          1953                National Federation of Business and Professional Women's Clubs Luncheon
            19          1953                Clippings
            20          1953-55         Congressional Voting Records
            21          1954                Congressional Campaign
            22          1954                Hells Canyon Dam
            23          1954                Miscellaneous
            24          1954                Speeches and Floor Remarks
            25          1954                Clippings
            26          1955                Hells Canyon Dam Bill
            27          1955                Miscellaneous
            28          1955                Report to the People
            29          1955                Speeches and Floor Remarks
            30          1955                Clippings
            31          1956                Congressional Campaign
            32          1956                Democratic National Convention (Chicago)
            33          1956                Miscellaneous
            34          1956                Report to the People
            35          1956                Clippings
            36          1957                Articles
            37          1957                Invitations
            38          1957                Press Release
            39          1957                Report On Civil Service Retirement Annuity Increases
            40          1957                Report to the People
            41          1957                Clippings
            42          1958                Articles
            43          1958                Brussels, Belgium Trip
            44          1958                Congressional Campaign
            45          1958                Congressional Committee Reports w/Accompanying Letter
            46          1958                Congressional Records and Public Acts
            47          1958                Correspondence
            48          1958                Florida Trip
            49          1958                Invitations
            50          1958                Press Release
            51          1958                Clippings
            52          1959                Articles
            53          1959                Correspondence
            54          1959                Invitations
            55          1959                Miscellaneous
            56          1959                Press Releases
            57          1959                TV Spot Script
            58          1959                Speech, Virgin Islands
            59          1959                Clippings
            60          1960                Biographical Sketch
            61          1960                Congressional Campaign
            62          1960                Correspondence
            63          1960                Democratic National Convention (Los Angeles)
            64          1960                Invitations
            65          1960                Press Releases
            66          1960                Speeches and Floor Remarks
            67          1960                Clippings
            68          1961                Articles
            69          1961                Congressional Voting Record
            70          1961                Correspondence
            71          1961                Presidential Inauguration Material (Kennedy)
            72          1961                Invitations
            73          1961                Miscellaneous
            74          1961                Press Releases
            75          1961                Speeches and Floor Remarks
            76          1961                Clippings
            77          1961-1963     Correspondence re: Books Gracie Sent to Libraries/Schools
            78          1962                Capitol Hill Comment
            79          1962                Correspondence

 

Box 2: Memorabilia

Folder  1          1962                Inaugural Anniversary Dinner
              2          1962                Invitations
              3          1962                J.F.K.'s Remarks for Gracie Pfost Testimonial Dinner
              4          1962                Miscellaneous
              5          1962                Press Releases
              6          1962                Senate Campaign
              7          1962                Speeches and Floor Remarks
              8          1962                Women of the 87th Congress Publications
              9          1962                Clippings
            10          1963                Certificates & Citations
            11          1963                Correspondence
            12          1963                Federal Housing Administration
            13          1963                Federal Housing Administration Review (FHA Newsletter)
            14          1963                Inaugural Anniversary Salute Pamphlet
            15          1963                Miscellaneous
            16          1963                Clippings
            17          1964                Aging & Social Policy from the White House Conference on Aging
            18          1964                Biographies
            19          1964                Correspondence
            20          1964                Invitations
            21          1964                Memorabilia
            22          1964                Notes (Handwritten)
            23          1964                Press Releases
            24          1964                What's New in Housing the Elderly? Booklet
            25          1964                Clippings
            26          1965                Calendar/Appointments
            27          1965-1973     Obituaries/Memorials

 

Series II: Photos

For samples of some of the photos, see the Gracie Pfost Gallery
 

 Box 3: Photos

 Folder 1          1941
              2          1950
              3          1952
              4          1953
              5          1954
              6          1954                Hawaii Photos
              7          1955
              8          1956
              9          1957
            10          1958
            11          1958                Grace Mine Photos
            12          1958                Florida Photos
            13          1958                Brussels, Belgium Photos
            14          1958                National Onion Association Photos
            15          1959
            16          1959                Yellowstone Earthquake Photos
            17          1960
            18          1961
            19          1962                Photos, smaller than 6x9
            20          1962                Photos, larger than 6x9
            21          1963
            22          1964

 

Oversize Drawer:

        Poster, Canyon County Democratic Ticket (with photos), 1936
        Poster, Canyon County Democratic Ticket (with photos), 1940
        Poster, Canyon County Democratic Ticket (with photos), 1942
        Poster, Canyon County Democratic Ticket (with photos), 1944
        Chart, Idaho Legislative and County Officials, 1947-1948 (Caxton Printers)

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