Jane Pratt

North Carolina’s First Congresswoman

Not Yet Published


New 2024 Pre-Order

Available for pre-order / backorder

About the Book

On May 25th, 1946, after 22 years as a congressional secretary, Jane Pratt was sworn into office as North Carolina’s first congresswoman. The press reported with great interest how “Miss Jane” won by a landslide with only a $100 campaign budget. She hit the ground running, voting to the pass the Atomic Energy Act, working tirelessly to mitigate a century of flood disasters in western North Carolina, and serving the constituents she knew so well.
This first biography of Congresswoman Jane Pratt recounts her youth and fascinating career on Capitol Hill. It also provides a unique federal view of North Carolina’s early 20th century history. After working as a rare female newspaper editor in the early 1920s, Pratt became secretary to five tarheel congressmen over some 30 years. Her career spanned the roaring twenties, the Great Depression, World War II, and the Cold War. Pratt’s amazing network was a who’s who of leaders in North Carolina and Washington, DC. Her decision not to run for re-election offers insight into why 46 years passed before the state elected another woman to Congress.

About the Author(s)

Marion Elliott Deerhake is an environmental scientist with more than 30 years of experience in research, outreach, and communication. She has co-authored articles in peer-reviewed journals and more than 90 technical reports and conference papers. She has volunteered on state and local environmental committees for decades in addition to nonprofit service. She lives in Raleigh, North Carolina.

Bibliographic Details

Marion Elliott Deerhake
Format: softcover (6 x 9)
Bibliographic Info: ca. 35 photos, appendices, notes, bibliography, index
Copyright Date: 2024
pISBN: 978-1-4766-9262-3
eISBN: 978-1-4766-5188-0
Imprint: McFarland

Book Reviews & Awards

• “Long before North Carolina voters started electing women to Congress in the 1990s, Jane Pratt blazed a trail later followed by Rep. Eva Clayton, Sen. Elizabeth Dole, and the other Tar Heel women elected to serve in Washington. Pratt once was one of the most influential women in North Carolina, but her story largely has been lost to time. Marion Deerhake has done a good deed for North Carolina by documenting and elevating Pratt’s exemplary service to the state.”—John Drescher, contributing editor for The Assembly and former executive editor of The News & Observer

• “When Eliza Jane Pratt became North Carolina’s first congresswoman in 1946, the Democratic Party patronizingly congratulated her as ‘well-bred, well educated, well behaved and intelligent.’ Pratt, a career congressional staffer, served only eight months in office, but she would be the only Tar Heel woman in Congress until Eva Clayton’s election in 1992. Marion Deerhake has expertly shined a light on a largely forgotten figure—a career woman who succeeded in the testosterone-infused political world of the early 20th century.”—Rob Christensen, former political writer for The News and Observer of Raleigh and author of The Paradox of Tar Heel Politics