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Ruth Baker Pratt

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Ruth Baker Pratt
Ruth Baker Pratt.jpg
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from New York's 17th district
In office
March 4, 1929 – March 3, 1933
Preceded byWilliam W. Cohen
Succeeded byTheodore A. Peyser
Personal details
Born(1877-08-24)August 24, 1877
Ware, Massachusetts
DiedAugust 23, 1965(1965-08-23) (aged 87)
Glen Cove, Long Island
Political partyRepublican
Spouse(s)John Teele Pratt
Children5, including Edwin H Baker Pratt

Ruth Baker Pratt (August 24, 1877 – August 23, 1965),[1] was an American politician and the first female representative to be elected from New York.[2]

Early life

On August 24, 1877, Pratt was born as Ruth Sears Baker in Ware, Massachusetts. [3] Pratt's father was Edwin K. Baker, a dry-goods merchant.

Pratt attended Dana Hall.[4] Pratt attended Wellesley College.[3] She also spent a year and a half studying violin at the Conservatory of Liege, Belgium.[4]


Mrs. Pratt in 1920
Mrs. Pratt in 1920

In the 1920 presidential election, Pratt was a presidential elector for Warren G. Harding and Calvin Coolidge.[5] In 1924, she supported and drew in women's support for Frank J. Coleman Jr. candidacy for leadership of the Fifteenth Assembly District; Pratt was later made associate leader of the District before she became secretary.[4] She was a member of the Board of Aldermen of New York City in 1925, being the first woman to serve; re-elected in 1927 and served until March 1, 1929. She was a member of the Republican National Committee 1929-1943; delegate to the Republican National Conventions in 1924, 1932, 1936, 1940; delegate to the Republican State conventions in 1922, 1924, 1926, 1928, 1930, 1936, and 1938.[6] She served as president of the Women's National Republican Club 1943-1946.

She was elected as a Republican to the 71st and 72nd Congresses (1929–1933),[7][8] being the first woman elected to Congress from New York, beating out her primary competitor Phelps Phelps.[9] In 1932, Ruth lost reelection to Democrat Theodore Peyser.[10]

Pratt-Smoot Act

Together with Reed Smoot, she introduced the Pratt-Smoot Act, passed by the United States Congress, and signed into law by President Herbert Hoover on March 3, 1931. The Act provided $100,000, to be administered by the Library of Congress, to provide blind adults with books. The program, which is known as Books for the Blind, has been heavily amended and expanded over the years, and remains in place today.[11]

Personal life

Her husband, John Teele Pratt, in 1919
Her husband, John Teele Pratt, in 1919

She married John Teele Pratt, a corporate attorney, philanthropist, music impresario, and financier.[12] He was one of six children born to industrialist and Standard Oil co-founder Charles Pratt and Mary Helen (née Richardson) Pratt. His siblings included brothers Frederic, George, Herbert, and Harold. From his father's first marriage, he had two half-siblings including Charles Millard Pratt.[13] Together, Ruth and John were the parents of five children:[4][14]

Pratt died on 23 August 1965 at the family house and estate, Manor House, Glen Cove, Long Island;[28][29] she was one day shy of her 88th birthday.[30] She was interred at the Pratt Family Mausoleum, Old Tappan Road, Glen Cove.


Through her eldest son John, she was a grandmother of Mary Christy Pratt (1923–1960), who was married to Bayard Cutting Auchincloss (1922–2001), the nephew of U.S. Representative James C. Auchincloss, in 1950,[16][31] and Ruth Pratt, who in 1962 married U.S. State Department aide, R. Campbell James, a Groton and Yale graduate who was a stepson of architect Harrie T. Lindeberg.[32] Through her daughter Phyllis, she was a grandmother of William A. Nitze of Washington, DC, the chairman of Oceana Technologies and Clearpath Technologies, who married Ann Kendall Richards, an independent art dealer.[33] Through her youngest son Edwin, she was a grandmother to singer-songwriter Andy Pratt.

See also


  1. ^ "Mrs. Ruth Baker Pratt Dies; State's First Woman in House;  Served in Washington From 1928 to 1932 -- First of Sex on Board of Aldermen". The New York Times. August 24, 1965. Retrieved 3 February 2021.
  2. ^ 2017, 2009. "Ruth Sears Baker Pratt, The Junior League of New York". Retrieved 2017-08-27.CS1 maint: numeric names: authors list (link)
  3. ^ a b "PRATT, Ruth Sears Baker (1877-1965)". Retrieved October 24, 2018.
  4. ^ a b c d "Ruth B. Pratt--New York's First Congresswoman". Equal Rights. XIV (48). January 5, 1929. p. 379-380.
  5. ^ Proceedings of the Electoral College of the State of New York, 1921. Albany, N.Y.: J. B. Lyon Company. 1921. p. 6.
  6. ^ O'Dea, Suzanne (1999). From Suffrage to the Senate: An Encyclopedia of American Women in Politics. A - M. ABC-CLIO. p. 540. ISBN 9780874369601.
  7. ^ Ford, Lynne E. (2010-05-12). Encyclopedia of Women and American Politics. Infobase Publishing. p. 521. ISBN 9781438110325.
  8. ^ Thorne, Magdalena E. (2005). Women in Society: Achievements, Risks, and Challenges. Nova Publishers. p. 45. ISBN 9781590339428.
  9. ^ "National Affairs: Phelps-Pratt". Time. Time Inc. 17 September 1928. Retrieved 27 May 2010.
  10. ^ "THEODORE PEYSER, CONGRESSMAN, DIES; Represented the Silk Stocking 17th District After Defeat of Ruth Baker Pratt FORMER INSURANCE MAN Credited With Having Sold Million-Dollar Life Policies to 33 Clients Entered Politics in 1932 Aided by Wagner Native of West Virginia". The New York Times. 9 August 1937. Retrieved 3 February 2021.
  11. ^ Wasniewski, Matthew Andrew (2006). Women in Congress, 1917-2006. Government Printing Office. p. 96. ISBN 9780160767531.
  12. ^ Stone, Kurt F. (2010-12-29). The Jews of Capitol Hill: A Compendium of Jewish Congressional Members. Scarecrow Press. ISBN 9780810877382.
  13. ^ "John Teele Pratt, Financier, is Dead". New York Times. June 18, 1927.
  14. ^ "Five Children of Mrs. Pratt To Share $1 Million Estate". The New York Times. 31 August 1965. Retrieved 3 February 2021.
  15. ^ "John T. Pratt Jr., 65, Is Dead; Institute Trustee and Bank Aide". The New York Times. 21 June 1969. Retrieved 25 April 2018.
  16. ^ a b "Miss Mary Christy Pratt Engaged to Bayard Cutting Auchincloss". St. Louis Post-Dispatch. February 10, 1950. p. 45. Retrieved 25 April 2018.
  17. ^ Martin, Douglas (22 August 2006). "Alexander Cushing, 92, Dies; Turned Squaw Valley Into World-Class Skiing Destination". The New York Times. Retrieved 25 April 2018.
  18. ^ "Deaths | THAYER‐Virginia Pratt". The New York Times. 13 December 1979. Retrieved 25 April 2018.
  19. ^ "Robert H. Thayer, 82; Ex-Envoy to Rumania". The New York Times. January 29, 1984. Retrieved 25 April 2018.
  20. ^ "MISS VIRGINIA PRATT TO WED ON DEC. 30 Marriage to Robert H. Thayer Will Take Place in St, Bartholomew's Church". The New York Times. 8 December 1926. Retrieved 25 April 2018.
  21. ^ "SALLY PRATT REVEALS HER MARRIAGE PLANS; Daughter of Mrs. Ruth B. Pratt, Alderman, and James Jackson Jr. Get a License". The New York Times. January 28, 1928. Retrieved 25 April 2018.
  22. ^ "SALLY PRATT WEDS JAMES JACKSON JR.; Married by Rev. Dr. Endicott Peabody at Home of Her Mother, Alderman Ruth Pratt. HER SISTER HONOR MAID". The New York Times. 17 February 1928. Retrieved 25 April 2018.
  23. ^ "PHYLLIS PRATT NITZE". The New York Times. June 28, 1987. Retrieved 25 April 2018.
  24. ^ Berger, Marilyn (21 October 2004). "Paul H. Nitze, Missile Treaty Negotiator and Cold War Strategist, Dies at 97". The New York Times. Retrieved 25 April 2018.
  25. ^ "Edwin H. B. Pratt". The New York Times. 21 March 1975. Retrieved 25 April 2018.
  26. ^ "HEADMASTER APPOINTED; Edwin H. B. Pratt Is Named by the Browne & Nichols School". The New York Times. 12 May 1949. Retrieved 25 April 2018.
  27. ^ TIMES, Special to THE NEW YORK (9 August 1935). "MISS AILEEN KELLY ENGAGED TO BE WED; Massachusetts Girl to Become Bride of Edwin Pratt, Son of Ruth Baker Pratt". The New York Times. Retrieved 3 February 2021.
  28. ^ Times, Special to The New York (1 August 1930). "MRS. PRATT ACQUIRES LOCUST VALLEY TRACT; Purchase by Member of Congress Brings Long Island Estate to More Than 1,000 Acres". The New York Times. Retrieved 3 February 2021.
  29. ^ TIMES, Special to THE NEW YORK (15 February 1949). "Pratt Home Robbed of $30,000 in Jewels; Thieves' Carefulness Delays Discovery". The New York Times. Retrieved 3 February 2021.
  30. ^ Wasniewski, Matthew Andrew (2006). Women in Congress, 1917-2006. Government Printing Office. p. 97. ISBN 9780160767531.
  31. ^ "James G. Auchincloss, A Law Student, And Kristin Morris Delafield Are Wed". The New York Times. July 19, 1987. Retrieved 25 April 2018.
  32. ^ Times, Special to The New York (15 September 1962). "Miss Ruth Pratt And R.C. James Are Wed on L.I.; Father Escorts Bride at Marriage to Aide of State Department". The New York Times. Retrieved 3 February 2021.
  33. ^ "Jane Kucera and Paul Nitze". The New York Times. 8 September 2013. Retrieved 25 April 2018.

External links

 This article incorporates public domain material from the Biographical Directory of the United States Congress website

U.S. House of Representatives
Preceded by
William W. Cohen
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from New York's 17th congressional district

Succeeded by
Theodore A. Peyser
This page was last edited on 28 February 2021, at 12:35
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