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O'Neill, Lottie Holman | Archival Collections at Wheaton College

Name: O'Neill, Lottie Holman


Historical Note:

Lottie Holman O'Neill was Illinois' first female legislator, being elected to her first term on her 44th birthday, November 7, 1922.  O'Neill, a Republican from Downers Grove and the 41st district, was the first women to be sworn into the Illinois General Assembly, attracting more than 1,000 women to that event from across the state on January 23, 1923.

Lottie O'Neill served as the lone female in the General Assembly for two years.  She was perceived as having an "independent spirit, representing all women of Illinois as well as her district."  Her early career expressed her interests in the welfare and education of women and children.

In 1950 Mrs. O'Neill was elected to the State Senate at the age of 72, again on her birthday.  She served there until 1963 when she was unseated by Harris Fawell.

It is noted by Jean Moore, in the Wheaton Daily Journal (January 18, 1985) that "the seating of the 44 year old housewife, mother and businesswoman in the House of Representatives presented an immediate problem for the third floor, which had been an all-male domain for more than a century.  There was no restroom for women available on the third floor, which houses both the Senate and House chambers."  The installation of Mrs. O'Neill changed the face of the State Capitol and state politics.

The State of Illinois honored her in 1976 by placing a statue of her in the Capitol's rotunda.







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