On this day in Alabama history: Alabama’s first female senator was seated

On this day in Alabama history: Alabama’s first female senator was seated
Senator Dixie Bibb Graves of Alabama, shown with members of her office staff, left to right: Elizabeth Douglas; Merwin Koonce, secretary; Octavia Martin; Ben Hardeman, secretary; and Jane Fry; Nov. 13, 1937. (Photograph by Harris & Ewing, Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division)

August 20, 1937

Dixie Bibb Graves, born just outside of Montgomery, took her seat in the U.S. Senate to become Alabama’s first female senator. At the time, she was only the fourth woman to serve as a U.S. senator. In a move that generated controversy, Graves had been appointed by her husband, Gov. Bibb Graves, to succeed Hugo Black. Black had been appointed to the U.S. Supreme Court. Dixie Graves was sworn in before the Senate on Aug. 20, 1937, days before the first session of the 75th Congress (1937-39) ended and served until Jan. 10, 1938. In addition to being Alabama’s first female senator, she was also the first married woman to serve in the senate. All others had been widows. At the age of 18, she married David Bibb Graves who served as a state legislator. She went on to make many contributions as a civic leader. She was a trustee of Alabama Boys’ Industrial School in Birmingham and president of the United Daughters of the Confederacy from 1915 to 1917. She was active in the Women’s Christian Temperance Union, the Alabama Federation of Women’s Clubs and the women’s suffrage movement. She was named to the Alabama Women’s Hall of Fame in 1972.

Read more at Encyclopedia of Alabama.

For more on Alabama’s Bicentennial, visit Alabama 200.

Related Stories