Langley, Katherine (1888–1948)

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Langley, Katherine (1888–1948)

Republican congressional representative from Kentucky, 70th–71st Congresses (March 4, 1927–March 3, 1931). Born Katherine Gudger on February 14, 1888, near Marshall, in Madison County, North Carolina; died on August 15, 1948, in Pikeville, Kentucky; daughter of James Madison Gudger, Jr. (a U.S. congressional representative); graduated from Woman's College, Richmond, Virginia; attended Emerson College of Oratory, Boston, Massachusetts; married John Langley (a politician), in 1903 (died 1932).

Born in Madison County, North Carolina, in 1888, Katherine Gudger was the daughter of James Madison Gudger, Jr., a well-known Democratic congressional representative. After graduating from the Woman's College in Richmond, Virginia, and attending Emerson College of Oratory in Boston, she taught voice and expression at the Virginia Institute in Bristol. In 1903, she married John Wesley Langley and moved with her new husband to Pikeville, Kentucky. When he was elected to Congress in 1906, she worked as his secretary and also became active in the Kentucky Republican Party.

In 1924, Katherine Langley succeeded to her husband's seat in the House of Representatives following his bootlegging conviction for conspiring to transport and sell liquor. In 1926, while he was serving time in the Federal Penitentiary in Atlanta, Langley successfully ran for the House seat from Kentucky's Tenth District, with the purpose of vindicating her husband's name and carrying on his work. She was appointed to several committees and in 1930 became the first woman to serve on the Republican Committee on Committees. She was also successful in her petition to President Calvin Coolidge to grant her husband clemency provided he informally

agree to forfeit the right to stand for public office. Unfortunately, John was not a man of his word and in 1930 declared his intention to run for his old House seat, betraying the president and his wife, whom he had not informed. Although Langley refused to have her name removed from the ballot, the public outcry cost her votes, and Democrat Andrew Jackson May won the seat. Following her husband's death in 1932, Katherine Langley served as railroad commissioner of the third Kentucky district, from 1939 to 1942. She died on August 15, 1948, in Pikeville, Kentucky.


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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