Headlines of Yore

A first in 1922: Two Pa. women secure major party nominations for Congress

One was a professor, while the other was related to Ben Franklin.

Suffragists in Pennsylvania campaigning for the right to vote

Suffragists in Pennsylvania campaigning for the right to vote

Harris & Ewing / Wikimedia Commons

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As Pennsylvanians wait for results of a very contentious Senate race, it’s a good time to recall another political battle in the Commonwealth.

It was 1922, the first full election cycle after the 19th Amendment gave women the right to vote — and over 50 ran for public office in Pa. In a groundbreaking moment, two of the women earned major party nominations for U.S. House of Representatives.

One of them was Jane E. Leonard, a former professor at Indiana University of Pennsylvania. She ran to represent the 27th Congressional District in Western Pa. She lost, but reportedly won a larger percentage of votes than any Democratic candidate in more than 10 years

The other was Ellen Duane Davis, the Democratic nominee for the 2nd Congressional District in Philadelphia, where she was also chair of the Women’s Democratic City Committee. Unfortunately, her campaign received little substantial coverage. She lost to her Republican challenger with only 13% of the vote.

What did get attention, however, was her lineage. Davis’s great-great-grandfather was Benjamin Franklin (yes, the Ben Franklin), who left her quite a bit of ephemera to be discovered at an estate sale.

Follow this thread to see what else we know about Davis, and what we don’t.

Want some more? Explore other Headlines of Yore stories.

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