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Bosone, Reva Beck (1895–1983)

Bosone, Reva Beck (1895–1983)

U.S. Representative, Democrat of Utah, 81st–82nd Congresses, January 3, 1949–January 3, 1953; first woman U.S. Representative from Utah. Born Reva Zilpha Beck in American Fork, Utah, on April 2, 1895; died in Vienna, Virginia, on July 21, 1983; only daughter and one of four children of Christian M. and Zilpha (Chipman) Beck; graduated from Westminster Junior College in Salt Lake City, 1917; B.A. from the University of California, Berkeley, 1920; Doctor of Laws degree from the University of Utah, 1930; married Joe P. Bosone, on October 8, 1929 (divorced); children: one daughter, Zilpha Theresa.

Reva Bosone, the great-granddaughter of Mormon pioneers, was born and educated in Utah and taught high school English and speech for seven years before pursuing studies at Utah College of Law. She married Joe P. Bosone, a lawyer, just one year before receiving her degree in 1930. The couple moved to the mining region of Carbon County, where they opened a private law practice, Bosone and Bosone.

In 1932, Bosone ran for State legislature, conducting a door-to-door campaign with her two-year-old daughter in tow. She was elected to the State House with the "highest vote received by any candidate for any office in the county." Returned to office in 1934, she was elected Democratic floor leader. While a legislator, she worked for passage of a women's and children's wage-and-hour law and a child-labor amendment to the State constitution, which won her commendations from Frances Perkins and Eleanor Roosevelt .

In 1936, Bosone was elected a police and traffic court judge of the Salt Lake City Municipal Court, becoming Utah's first woman judge. Serving successively until 1948, she instituted extraordinarily high traffic fines for convicted drunk drivers, but also took a personal interest in their rehabilitation. During World War II, she chaired the Women's Army Corps Civilian Advisory Committee of the Ninth Service Command and was an official observer at the United Nations' founding conference in San Francisco in 1945. In 1947 and 1948, she served as the first director of the Utah State Board for Education on Alcoholism.

In 1948, Bosone became the first woman from Utah to be elected to the House of Representatives and won a second term in 1950 over Republican National committeewoman and future treasurer of the United States, Ivy Baker Priest . Bosone's political philosophy stressed principle over popularity. During her freshman term, Bosone served on the Committee on Public Lands. Hoping to encourage Native American self-government, she introduced a bill to gradually reduce federal administration of Indian affairs. She also worked to promote land management and reclamation efforts, often taking stands un-popular with her largely conservative state. During her second term, she was appointed to the Committee on House Administration and the Committee on Interior and Insular Affairs.

Bosone lost her bid for a third term in 1952, and again in 1954. She returned to her law practice in Salt Lake City until becoming legal counsel to the Safety and Compensation Subcommittee of the House Committee on Education and Labor in 1957. In 1961, she was appointed the Post Office Department's judicial officer and chair of its contract board of appeals. She served that post until retiring in January 1968. Bosone made her home in Vienna, Virginia, until her death on July 21, 1983.


Office of the Historian. Women in Congress, 1917–1990. Commission on the Bicentenary of the U.S. House of Representatives, 1991.

suggested reading:

Clopton, Beverly B. Her Honor, the Judge: The Story of Reva Beck Bosone. Ames: Iowa State University Press, 1980.

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