Granahan, Kathryn E. (1894–1979)

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Granahan, Kathryn E. (1894–1979)

U.S. Democratic Congresswoman from Pennsylvania (November 6, 1956–January 3, 1963) who was also U.S. treasurer (1963–66). Born Kathryn Elizabeth O'Hay on December 7, 1894, in Easton, Pennsylvania; died on July 10, 1979, in Norristown, Pennsylvania; interred in Gethsemane Cemetery, Easton, Pennsylvania; daughter of James B. O'Hay and Julia (Reilly) O'Hay; attended public school in Easton, Pennsylvania, and Mount St. Joseph Collegiate Institute inChestnut Hill, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; married William T. Granahan (a politician), on November 20, 1943 (died May 25, 1956).

Kathryn Elizabeth Granahan spent much of her congressional career fighting for tougher pornography laws, but more Americans came to know her as treasurer of the United States, at which time her signature appeared on the country's currency.

Granahan was born in 1894 in Easton, Pennsylvania, and educated in public schools and at Mount St. Joseph Collegiate Institute in Philadelphia. From 1940 to 1943, she worked for the state auditor general, serving as a liaison officer between the auditor's office and the Pennsylvania Department of Public Assistance. In 1943, she married the Democratic leader of Philadelphia's 52nd Ward, William Granahan, who was also the chief disbursing officer for the state treasury. William was elected to Congress in 1944 and served one term before his defeat in

the national Republican sweep of 1946. He was returned to office in 1948 and served four more terms before his death in 1956, shortly after his renomination for a fifth term. Kathryn Granahan succeeded her husband as leader of the 52nd Ward and replaced him as the Democratic candidate for the 84th Congress. In the November 1956 election, she was elected to fill out her husband's term and defeated Robert F. Frankenfield for a full term in the 85th Congress, the first woman to represent a Philadelphia district.

Early in her tenure, Granahan served on the Committee on the District of Columbia, the Committee on Government Operation, and the Committee on Post Office and Civil Service. In 1959, as chair of a subcommittee on postal operations, she called for a crack-down on the pornography trade, introducing legislation requiring mandatory jail sentences for anyone found guilty of using the U.S. mail to distribute pornography. She also sponsored a successful bill which allowed the Post Office to impound the mail of anyone dealing in pornography. In 1961, she consulted the Supreme Court in drafting guidelines to determine obscenity in publications.

Granahan served in the 84th–87th Congresses, but her congressional seat was eliminated in 1963, following the census of 1960, and she was appointed treasurer of the United States as recompense. As treasurer, she served under President John F. Kennedy from 1963 until 1965, when she underwent brain surgery following a fall. Kathryn Granahan formally resigned from office in October 1966. She died on July 10, 1979, in Norristown, Pennsylvania.


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

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