Meyner, Helen Stevenson (1929–1997)

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Meyner, Helen Stevenson (1929–1997)

U.S. congressional representative from January 3, 1975, to January 3, 1979 . Born Helen Day Stevenson on March 5, 1929, in New York City; died in 1997; attended Colorado Springs College, 1946–50; married Robert B. Meyner (governor of New Jersey, 1953–62), in 1957; children: one son (born and died on February 11, 1970).

A distant cousin of two-time Democratic presidential nominee and U.S. ambassador to the United Nations Adlai Stevenson, Helen Stevenson Meyner was born on March 5, 1929, in New York City. After attending Colorado Springs College from 1946 to 1950, she served as a Red Cross field worker in the Korean conflict until 1952. She then worked briefly as a guide at the United Nations before taking a job as a consumer advisor for an airline in 1953.

Meyner married New Jersey governor Robert B. Meyner, the first Democratic governor of that state for more than a decade, in 1957. She began writing a weekly column for the Newark Star-Ledger after her husband left office in 1962, and hosted a television interview program broadcast in New York and New Jersey from 1965 to 1968. In 1971, she began serving on the New Jersey State Rehabilitation Commission, in which capacity she continued into the 1990s.

Meyner was in the middle of writing a biography of Katherine Mansfield in 1972 when a Democratic candidate for Congress from the 13th District of New Jersey failed to meet the seven-year citizenship requirement for election. Meyner stepped in as a replacement candidate. Although she lost to the incumbent, Joseph J. Maraziti, she defeated him in the subsequent election two years later. While serving two terms in Congress, Meyner served on the Committee on Foreign Affairs and played a significant role in international affairs. While opposing the expulsion of Israel from the United Nations, she condemned the UN's 1975 resolution equating Zionism with racism, and backed efforts to tie U.S. economic aid to the Philippines to the reduction of human rights abuses in that country. She also served on the Select Committee on Aging and the Committee on the District of Columbia. Meyner worked to protect the traditional industries of her constituents, supporting tariff protection for U.S. textile manufacturers and ensuring that military establishments in her district were kept in operation. A proponent of the Equal Rights Amendment, in 1976 she lobbied her fellow Democratic state senators for their continued support of the ERA. Helen Meyner was defeated in her bid to secure a third term in Congress in 1978. She moved to Florida after the death of her husband in 1990, and died in 1997.


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

Grant Eldridge , freelance writer, Pontiac, Michigan

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Meyner, Helen Stevenson (1929–1997)

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