Woods, Harriett 1927-2007 (Ruth Harriett Woods)

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Woods, Harriett 1927-2007 (Ruth Harriett Woods)


See index for CA sketch: Born June 2, 1927, in Cleveland, OH; died of leukemia, February 8, 2007, in University City, MO. Politician, journalist, activist, and author. Woods was a former head of the Women's Political Caucus and a Missouri lieutenant governor who campaigned for more women to hold political office. She was a graduate of the University of Michigan, where she studied philosophy and was the student newspaper's first woman editor. After she graduated, she tried to obtain a journalism job at various prestigious newspapers but found the jobs all going to men. She finally gained a reporting job at the St. Louis Globe Democrat in 1949, working there until her marriage in 1953. Her political activism began while she was still a stay-at-home mother in University City, Missouri, when she complained to her city council about a loose manhole cover that kept her children awake when cars and trucks ran over it. Her request to have the cover fixed were completely ignored, so Woods took matters into her own hands. She started a petition, got the story on television, and soon had enough public support to gain the council's attention. After serving on the Human Relations Commission for several years, she was elected to her city council in 1967, serving for the next seven years. In 1976 she was elected state senator, holding the office until 1984. While in the state senate, Woods led local efforts to get the Equal Rights Amendment passed and championed health care, better nursing home regulations, and strict drunk-driving laws. Next, Woods set her sights on becoming a U.S. senator. Despite her experience in government, her Democratic Party backed an inexperienced banker. Woods did not give up. She raised her own funds and defeated the banker in the primary by a two-to-one margin. Running against Republican John C. Danforth in 1982, she lost in a very tight race that drew national attention. Woods next ran for the office of Missouri's lieutenant governor, which she won in 1984, becoming the first woman in Missouri to hold a statewide office. She stepped down in 1989. Her difficulties over the years getting support for political office because, she believed, of her gender led her to support the National Women's Political Caucus, where she was president from 1991 to 1995, and the campaign fund for female candidates called EMILY (Early Money Is Like Yeast). After her term at the National Women's Political Caucus ended, she hosted the radio program Week in Review with Harriett Woods for a year and founded the media company Harriett Woods Productions. She also lectured at the University of Missouri. In 1999, she published Stepping Up to Power: The Political Journey of American Women.



Chicago Tribune, February 11, 2007, Section 4, p. 6.

New York Times, February 10, 2007, p. B10; February 13, 2007, p. A2.

Washington Post, February 10, 2007, p. B4.

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Woods, Harriett 1927-2007 (Ruth Harriett Woods)

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