Database : Politicians

Presented here is a database of influencial women who are affiliated in some way with Idaho. By default, the entries are presented chronologically by the order in which they were submitted. Would you like to submit a new woman to the database? Please navigate to the submit page.

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Mary Brooks (Elizabeth Thomas Peavey)
11/01/1907 - 02/11/2002
Colby, KS - Twin Falls, ID


The daughter of a U.S. senator from Idaho, Mary Brooks served as an Idaho state senator from 1963 to 1969. She served as the Director of the U.S. Mint from 1969 to 1977, and when she was appointed by President Nixon she became the third woman in history named to the post. Her son, John Peavey, served over twenty years in the Idaho senate. Mary is a University of Idaho alumna and recieved her bachelor's degree in economics in 1929.


Resources: In Memoriam: Former Mint Director Mary Brooks, February 25, 2002
Keywords: politicians
Contributed by: Mike Bullard



Mary Allen Wright
12/03/1868 - 03/31/1948
Polk, Missouri - Bonners Ferry, ID


Mary Ellen was nominated to be State School Superintendent of Public Instruction, and was the first woman to hold statewide elected office in Idaho when she was elected to the Idaho State Legislature in 1898. Mary also chaired the Populist Party, who nominated her for Speaker of the House. In 1901, the legislature elected her Clerk of the House. She was also a manager of Wright's Loan and Investment Company and a prominent teacher in North Idaho.


Resources: Women Wielding Power: Pioneer Female State Legislators, The National Women's History Museum
Keywords: politicians, educators
Contributed by: Mike Bullard



Edith Miller Klein
08/04/1915 - 12/31/1998
Wallace, ID - Boise, ID


A pioneer as an attorney and woman judge in Boise in the 1940's, she served twenty years in the state senate and legislature, holding many civic, government, and community posts. In a day when women were expected to wear white gloves and hats in public, she wore judge's robes and brought women's professional business suits to Idaho. Stories conflict about a proposal of marriage made to her on the floor of the state legislature. As an attorney, Edith represented many statewide cases.


Resources: The First 50 Women in Idaho Law
Keywords: politicians
Contributed by: Mike Bullard



Louise Shadduck
10/14/1915 - 05/04/2008
Coeur d'Alene, ID - Coeur d'Alene, ID


At the age of 29, Louise was the first woman to serve as a governor's assistant. Louise ran for Congress in the 1950s and spoke for Dwight Eisenhower at the Republican National Convention in 1956. She became the first woman to serve at state cabinet level after being appointed by Rober Smylie for Secretary of Commerce and Development, a position she held for 10 years. Additionally, she is the author of five books on history.


Resources: Lioness of Idaho: Louise Shadduck and the Power of Polite, Mike Bullard.
Keywords: politicians
Contributed by: Mike Bullard



Permeal Jane French
05/08/1867 - 1954
Idaho City, ID - Seattle, WA


Permeal Jane French was the first woman elected to state office in Idaho when she became the Superintendent of Public Instruction in 1899. Additionally, she was the first Dean of Women at the University of Idaho (1908-1936) and was considered one of the best known and loved educators in Idaho at the time. Permeal was an advocate for women's education and held degrees from the University of Idaho and George Washington University.


Resources: Dowager of discipline: the life of Dean of Women Permeal French, Dick D'Easum.
Keywords: educator, politician
Contributed by: Annie Gaines



Gracie Bowers Pfost
03/12/1906 - 08/11/1965
Harrison, AK - Baltimore, MD


Gracie Pfost was the first woman to represent the state of Idaho in the United States Congress. She served five terms as a Democrat in the House of Representatives from 1953 to 1963. After Gracie moved to Idaho with her family, she became a milk analyst at a dairy in Nampa before attending business college in Boise. Both Gracie and her husband are burried in Meridian, Idaho.


Resources: Biographical Directory of the United States Congress: Gracie Pfost
Keywords: politician
Contributed by: Mike Bullard



Verda Rebecca White Barnes
02/23/1907 - 06/06/1980
Willard, UT - Washington, D.C.


Verda Barnes was the Chief Administrative Assistant for U.S. Senator Frank Church for all 4 terms of his office. Her ties to the LDS Church allowed Senator Church to be accepted in Southern Idaho where membership in the Church is high. Verda was one of the first woman to have this kind of position for a Senator. She is said to have been one of the most powerful women on Capitol Hill during that time.


Resources: Reeves, Troy. "Verda White Barnes: Undeserved Anonymity." Idaho Yesterdays 47 (2006) 48-67.
Keywords: politician
Contributed by: Mike Bullard



Abigail Scott Duniway
10/22/1834 - 10/11/1915
Groveland, IL - Portland, OR


Abigail Scott Duniway was a leader in Idaho's suffrage movement. She gave over 140 public lectures in Idaho from 1876 to 1895, and made a historic 6,000 word lecture to Idaho's statehood planning convention in 1880. In 1887 she began working full-time in Idaho towards equality. Idaho voted in 1896 to give women the vote because of Abigail's efforts.


Resources: "Abigail Scott Duniway: Mother of Woman Suffrage in the Pacific Northwest," By Grit and by Grace: Eleven Women Who Shaped the West, edited by Glenda Riley and Richard W. Etulain
Keywords: politician
Contributed by: Mike Bullard



Emma Yearian (Russell)
1865 - 12/25/1951
Leavenworth, KS - Dalmon, ID


Named the Sheep Queen of Idaho, Emma Yearian was elected to the Idaho Legislature in 1930. After she moved to the west at 21, Emma made a name for herself in the sheep business, starting with 1,200 ewes in Lemhi Valley. Her business prospered through the first World War, and she survived the great depression with her "head bloody but unbowed," she said.


Resources: Albright, Syd. "Amazing Emma Yearian," Coeur d'Alene Press, 2/8/2015
Keywords: pioneer, politician
Contributed by: Mike Bullard



Sarah Palin (Heath)
02/11/1964 -
Sandpoint, ID -


Born in Idaho, Sarah Palin has made a name for herself in the world of politics. Although she moved to Alaska as a child, Palin returned to Idaho to study at North Idaho College and the University of Idaho, where she graduated in 1987. | Mayor of Wasilla, Alaska, 1996-2002; Governor of Alaska, 2006-2009 (first woman and youngest person to be elected Governor of Alaska); Republican Party nominee for Vice President in the 2008 Presidential election.


Resources: Palin, Sarah. Going Rogue: An American Life, 2009. Lorenzo, Benet. Trailblazer: An Intimate Biography of Sarah Palin, 2009.
Keywords: politician
Contributed by: Annie Gaines



Helen Chenoweth-Hage (Palmer)
01/27/1938 - 10/02/2006
Topeka, KS - Tonopah, NV


Helen P. Chenoweth-Hage was the first and only republican woman to represent the state of Idaho in the United States Congress. Before getting involved in politics, Helen managed the Northside Medical Clinic where she initiated a physician recruitment practice for rural communities. Chenoweth was a controversial and polarizing figure in Idaho politics and was considered to be the most conservative woman to serve Congress between 1937 and 2004.


Resources: Outside magazine: "Are you trying to seduce me, Mrs. Chenoweth?", Daniel Coyle. | Helen Chenoweth-Hage - Wikipedia
Keywords: politician
Contributed by: Mike Bullard