Ruth Baker Pratt

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Ruth Baker Pratt
Ruth Baker Pratt.jpg
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from New York's 17th district
In office
March 4, 1929 – March 3, 1933
Preceded by William W. Cohen
Succeeded by Theodore A. Peyser
Personal details
Born (1877-08-24)August 24, 1877
Ware, Massachusetts
Died August 23, 1965(1965-08-23) (aged 87)
Glen Cove, Long Island
Political party Republican
Spouse(s) John Teele Pratt
Children John Teele Pratt Jr
Virginia Pratt
Phyllis Pratt
Edwin H Baker Pratt
Sally Pratt

Ruth Baker Pratt (August 24, 1877 – August 23, 1965), was an American politician and the first congresswoman to be elected from New York.

Early life[edit]

She was born Ruth Sears Baker in Ware, Massachusetts, where her father, Edwin K. Baker, was a dry-goods merchant. She studied at Wellesley College.

Political career[edit]

She was a member of the board of aldermen of New York City in 1925, being the first woman to serve; re-elected in 1927 and served until March 1, 1929. She was a member of the Republican National Committee 1929-1943; delegate to the Republican National Conventions in 1924, 1932, 1936, 1940; delegate to the Republican State conventions in 1922, 1924, 1926, 1928, 1930, 1936, and 1938. She served as president of the Women's National Republican Club 1943-1946

She was elected as a Republican to the 71st and 72nd Congresses (1929–1933), being the first woman elected to Congress from New York, beating out her primary competitor Phelps Phelps.[1]

Pratt-Smoot Act[edit]

Together with Reed Smoot, she introduced the Pratt-Smoot Act, passed by the United States Congress, and signed into law by President Herbert Hoover on March 3, 1931. The Act provided $100,000, to be administered by the Library of Congress, to provide blind adults with books. The program, which is known as Books for the Blind, has been heavily amended and expanded over the years, and remains in place today.

Later life[edit]

She died on 23 August 1965 at the family house and estate, Manor House, Glen Cove, Long Island; she was one day shy of her 88th birthday. She was interred at the Pratt Family Mausoleum, Old Tappan Road, Glen Cove.

Marriage and children[edit]

She married John Teele Pratt, a corporate attorney, philanthropist, music impresario, and financier.

Together, they had five children:

  1. John Teele Pratt Jr;
  2. Virginia Pratt (1905–1979), who married Robert H. Thayer;
  3. Phyllis Pratt (1912–1987), who married Paul Henry Nitze;
  4. Edwin H Baker Pratt (1913–1975), whose son is singer-songwriter Andy Pratt; and
  5. Sally Pratt, who married James Jackson

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "National Affairs: Phelps-Pratt". Time. Time Inc. 17 September 1928. Retrieved 27 May 2010. 

External links[edit]

U.S. House of Representatives
Preceded by
William W. Cohen
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from New York's 17th congressional district

Succeeded by
Theodore A. Peyser