Florence Prag Kahn

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Florence Prag Kahn
Florence Prag Kahn.jpg
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from California's 4th district
In office
March 4, 1925 – January 3, 1937
Preceded by Julius Kahn
Succeeded by Franck R. Havenner
Personal details
Born (1866-11-09)November 9, 1866
Salt Lake City, Utah
Died November 16, 1948(1948-11-16) (aged 82)
San Francisco, California
Political party Republican Party
Spouse(s) Julius Kahn
Alma mater University of California, Berkeley
Religion Judaism

Florence Prag Kahn (November 9, 1866 – November 16, 1948) was an American teacher and politician who in 1925 became the first Jewish woman to serve in the United States Congress. She was only the fifth woman to serve in Congress, and the second from California, after fellow San Franciscan Mae Nolan. Like Nolan, she took the seat in the House of Representatives left vacant by the death of her husband, Julius Kahn.

Life and career[edit]

Kahn was born in Salt Lake City, Utah to Conrad and Mary Prag, Jewish Polish immigrants who befriended the Mormon leader Brigham Young, and sold supplies during the gold rush. Her family moved to San Francisco, California in 1869. She graduated from the San Francisco Girls' High School in 1883, and received an A.B. from the University of California, Berkeley in 1887. She taught high school English and History. She married Julius Kahn in 1899, who served in Congress until his death on December 18, 1924.

Portrait of Kahn at the Capitol, unveiled 2009.

Florence Kahn was elected as a Republican to the 69th Congress, by special election, to fill the vacancy caused by the death of her husband, who had just been re-elected to a 13th term. She was reelected to the 70th, 71st, 72nd, 73rd, and 74th Congresses, serving from December 7, 1925 to January 3, 1937. She was the first woman on the House Military Affairs Committee.

Kahn supported Herbert Hoover's unsuccessful campaign against Franklin Delano Roosevelt in the 1932 presidential election. She was an unsuccessful candidate for reelection to the 75th Congress in 1936.

Afterwards, Kahn actively tried to get women involved in politics. She was a member of the American Association of University Women, Hadassah and the Council of Jewish Women. She was a Reform Jew, and belonged to Congregation Emanu-El of San Francisco.

Kahn died in San Francisco, and was interred in the Home of Peace Cemetery in Colma, California.

Location of Source Materials Relating to Florence Prag Kahn[edit]

The Western Jewish History Center, of the Judah L. Magnes Museum, in Berkeley, California has a large collection of family papers, documents, correspondence, and photographs relating to Florence Prag Kahn and to her husband, Julius Kahn.

References[edit]

United States House of Representatives
Preceded by
Julius Kahn
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from California's 4th congressional district

1925–1937
Succeeded by
Franck R. Havenner