Anderson, Eugenie Moore (1909–1997)
Anderson, Eugenie Moore (1909–1997)
U.S. ambassador to Denmark who was the first American woman to achieve a high diplomatic posting. Born Helen Eugenie Moore on May 26, 1909, in Adair, Iowa; died in Red Wing, Minnesota, on April 14, 1997; daughter and one of five children of the Reverend Ezekiel Arrowsmith Moore (a Methodist minister) and Flora Belle (McMillen) Moore (a former school teacher); attended Stephens College (Columbia, Missouri), Simpson College (Indianola, Iowa), and lastly, Carleton College (Northfield, Minnesota); married John Pierce Anderson, on September 9, 1930; children: Johanna and Hans Pierce.
In 1949, when Eugenie Anderson was sworn in as U.S. ambassador to Denmark—the first woman in the history of her country to achieve that high diplomatic rank—the press was not yet accustomed to dealing with women of worldly accomplishment. An article for the New York Post began: "Mrs. Anderson was a pretty brunette as a college girl, and she's still a pretty brunette as a diplomat." The most widely published news photograph of Anderson showed her standing at a kitchen stove. In an attempt to make the best of this less-than-official likeness, another article suggested that instead of picturing Anderson in the kitchen, it might be more accurate to envision her as a smartly dressed hostess, in whose living room "scientists, physicians, lawyers, artists, educators and semanticists congregate."
Helen Eugenie ("Genie") Moore, a minister's daughter, was raised in parsonages in various Iowa cities and was influenced early by her father's and grandfather's political discussions. Her mother nurtured her considerable musical talent with piano lessons that began before she turned six. In 1925, Moore graduated from high school with hopes of becoming a concert pianist and taught piano for a year before going to work for the telephone company to put herself through college. At Carleton College, she met young University of Chicago and Yale art student, John Pierce Anderson. They married in 1930, at the end of her junior year, and settled in her husband's family estate, "Tower View," located on a 400-acre farm in Red Wing, Minnesota, where their two children were born. Anderson returned to school to pursue yet another interest, child psychology, and later taught nursery school. Her earliest experience in public office was as the first woman member of the Red Wing school board.
When a trip to Germany in 1937, part of a European tour, gave Anderson a glimpse of what she described as "the totalitarian state in action," she began an intensive study of international relations. She became a member of the board and of the speakers' bureau of the Minnesota League of Women Voters, and, for six years, gave speeches to various area groups on the United Nations, the Baruch plan for atomic energy control, and on other aspects of American foreign policy, including the Atlantic Pact and the Marshall Plan. As a delegate to the Democratic State convention in 1944, her efforts in unifying Democratic and Farmer-Labor parties gained her appointments as Democratic-Farmer Labor Party chair for Goodhue County, party chair for the First Congressional District, and member of the State central committee. Her organizational skills and ability as a persuasive speaker won her state recognition, and, in 1946 to 1947, she was instrumental in the expulsion of Communist elements from the combined Democratic-Farmer Labor Party. By that time, she concurrently held posts as vice-chair of the central committee and member of its Minnesota executive committee. As one of the organizers of Americans for Democratic Action, Anderson served as state chair and member of the national executive board during 1947 to 1948.
In 1948, as Minnesota's delegate-at-large to the Democratic National Convention, Anderson became a Democratic National Committeewoman and campaigned for the reelection of President Harry S. Truman and for election of Hubert H. Humphrey to the Senate. Humphrey said of her, "Everyone respects her judgment, responds to her suggestions for action."
After his election, Humphrey urged the appointment of Anderson to an appropriate post, and her nomination as U.S. ambassador of Denmark was announced by President Truman on October 12, 1949. She served in that post from 1949 to 1953, often using a bicycle as a mode of transportation as most Danes did. In 1951, she signed a treaty between the United States and Denmark announcing agreements of friendship, commerce, and navigation, becoming the first woman to sign such a pact.
From 1955 to 1960, Anderson served as chair of the Minnesota Commission for Fair Employment Practices, and later under President John F. Kennedy was named U.S. envoy to Bulgaria (1962 to 1965), the first American woman to function as chief of a mission to an Eastern European country. While there, she openly defied the secret police. Anderson served as U.S. representative on the Trusteeship Council of the United Nations from 1965 to 1968, when she was appointed special assistant to the secretary of state. Leaving that post in 1972, she served as a member of the Commission on the Future of Minnesota until her retirement.
O'Neill, Lois Decker, ed. The Women's Book of World Records and Achievements. NY: Anchor Press, 1979.
Rothe, Anna, ed. Current Biography 1950. NY: H.W. Wilson, 1951.
Barbara Morgan , Melrose, Massachusetts