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Helen Holt Papers

 Collection
Collection Number: A&M.1858

Scope and Contents

Papers of Helen Louise (Froelich) Holt (1913-2015) relating to her personal, educational, and political activities. Types of material include publications, clippings, correspondence, photographs, and ephemera, among others. The collection is divided into five series: Personal and Political Papers (1912-2015 and undated) includes biographical material, correspondence, campaign material, educational material, and photographs, among other material relating to Helen Holt’s personal and political activities. Press and Media Activity (1937-2008 and undated) includes speeches, clippings, and press releases. State Government Papers (1955-1960) includes records from Helen Holt’s service in the West Virginia House of Delegates and as the secretary of state of West Virginia. Federal Government Papers (1960-1984 and undated) include records from Helen Holt’s involvement with the Federal Housing Administration and with Housing and Urban Development. Rush Dew Holt, Jr. Papers (1953-2014 and undated) includes biographical material, political material, correspondence, and clippings, among other material relating to Helen Holt’s son’s personal and political activities.

The collection is divided into five series as follows:

Series 1. Personal and Political Papers; 1912-2015 and undated

Includes publications, correspondence, photographs, artifacts, and other material representing the personal and political activities of Helen Holt.

Series 2. Press and Media Activity; 1937-2008 and undated

Includes material related to newspapers and media that documents Helen Holt’s personal and political activities.

Series 3. State Government Papers; 1955-1960

Includes correspondence, reports, statements, and publications, among other material documenting Helen Holt’s activity in the West Virginia House of Delegates and as West Virginia’s secretary of state.

Series 4. Federal Government Papers; 1960-1984 and undated

Includes records, correspondence, clippings, reports, photographs, and publications, among other material that represents Helen Holt’s involvement with the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development and the Federal Housing Administration.

Series 5. Rush Dew Holt, Jr. Papers; 1953-2014 and undated

Papers collected by Helen Holt pertaining to the personal life and political career of her son, Rush Holt, Jr., who served as U.S. Representative from New Jersey (1999-2015). Material includes correspondence, reports, publications, clippings, and ephemera, among other material.

Dates

  • 1912-2015 and undated

Creator

Language of Materials

English

Conditions Governing Access

One box contains restricted material and requires signed form.

Conditions Governing Use

Permission to publish or reproduce is required from the copyright holder. For more information, please contact the West Virginia and Regional History Center.

Biographical / Historical

Helen Louise (Froelich) Holt was born in Gridley, Illinois, on August 16, 1913, to parents, William and Edna Froelich. Even at a young age, Helen Holt displayed academic potential, being advanced from the second to third grade, and this excellence was further demonstrated by Helen Holt’s selection as class president and later valedictorian of her graduating class.

After high school she attended Stephens College in Columbia, Missouri, where she received an AA degree in 1932. To further her education, Helen Holt applied to Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois, where she was inducted into the Delta Delta Delta sorority. While attending Northwestern University, Helen Holt maintained a high grade point average, and she graduated in 1934 with a BA in Biology and a minor in Anthropology. Soon after receiving her degree, Helen Holt was offered a position at Stephens College Science Division to first help establish a library and then to assist students and teachers with research or as needed. This experience led to Helen Holt’s first published work, Function of a Science Divisional Library. In 1936, Helen Holt was encouraged to attend the Marine Biological Laboratory, an institution for research and education, in Woods Hole, Massachusetts. During this time (1935-1937) she also completed graduated work in connection with the University of Missouri in Columbia Missouri. After attending the Marine Biological Laboratory where she was able to interact with other students and well-known professors, Helen Holt decided it best to further her education at the graduate level; thus, she applied for a teaching fellowship in Zoology at Northwestern University. She was accepted and began her courses during the 1937 summer term and graduated in 1938. In addition to earning her MS, Helen Holt completed graduate work in conjunction with the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill in 1956.

After graduating with her MS degree, Helen Holt was hired for a position at National Park College in Washington, D.C., where she taught several Science courses from 1938-1941. It was during this time that she was introduced to the youngest member of the United States Senate, Rush Dew Holt of West Virginia, by Helen’s friend and Rush’s sister, Jane (Holt) Chase. They were married a year after they met, and the couple moved to West Virginia in 1941. Two children were born to the couple: Helen Jane Holt (1945) and Rush Dew Holt, Jr. (1948). When Rush Holt, Sr.’s sister died in 1952, the couple adopted her son, David. During this period Helen Holt described herself as a homemaker, but she was later involved with her husband's campaigns and even served as an unpaid assistant in Rush Holt’s Charleston office. This initial involvement in government, however, was only the beginning of Helen Holt’s own political career.

In 1955 after the death of her husband, Helen Holt was appointed by Governor William C. Marland to fulfill her late husband's term in the West Virginia House of Delegates, and she was later elected as a delegate to the 1956 Republican National Convention. After the legislative session ended in March, 1956, Helen Holt accepted a recently-vacated teaching position at Greenbrier College would prove to be only temporary. In 1957, after the death of Secretary of State D. Pitt O’Brian, Governor Cecil H. Underwood appointed Helen Holt to fill the position, making Helen Holt the first woman to hold the office in West Virginia history. Wishing to remain secretary of state, Helen Holt ran against Joe F. Burdett in 1958 but lost. Despite the unsuccessful campaign, Helen Holt continued to break the gender barrier, becoming the first woman appointed to serve as Assistant Commissioner of Public Institutions in West Virginia (served from 1959-1960) and later the first woman to serve as a trustee on the Board of the National Presbyterian Church in Washington, D.C.

In 1960 Helen Holt received a presidential appointment from Dwight D. Eisenhower to serve as Special Assistant to the Commissioner of the Federal Housing Administration for Nursing Homes Program (1960-1974). During the administration of President Richard M. Nixon, Helen Holt was considered for the position of United States treasurer, but despite numerous letters of recommendation from politicians and prominent individuals, the position was offered to John B. Connelly, Jr. Nevertheless, Helen Holt continued to succeed, and in 1974 the Department of Housing and Urban Development appointed her to serve as assistant to the secretary for programs for the elderly and the handicapped (1974-1983).

In 1983 after twenty-three years of government service, Helen Holt retired, but she remained active in women’s organizations (including the Washington Business and Professional Women’s Clubs, the Association of University Women, and the National League of Pen Women) and in church groups sponsored by the National Presbyterian Church in Washington, D.C. In addition to the numerous positions and honors bestowed upon Helen Holt during her political career, including being chosen as West Virginia Daughter of the Year by the West Virginia Society of Washington, D.C. in 1957 and being elected as president of the same society in 1960 and again serving as president from 1965-1966, she was awarded one of her greatest distinctions in 2013 when she received an honorary doctorate from West Virginia University.

Helen Holt passed away on July 12, 2015.

Chronological List of Events:

August 16, 1913: born

1930: graduated from high school

1930-1932: attended Stephens College, received an AA degree

1932-1934: attended Northwestern University, received a BA degree in Biology and a minor in Anthropology

1934-1936: worked at Stephens College Science Division to first help establish a library and then to assist students and teachers with research or as needed

1935-1937: completed graduate study work in connection with the University of Missouri

1936-1937: attended the Marine Biological Laboratory, an institution for research and education, in Woods Hole, Massachusetts

Summer, 1937-1938: attended Northwestern University, received a MS degree in Zoology

1938-1941: taught Science courses at National Park College

1941 married Senator Rush Dew Holt

1945: birth of Helen Jane Holt.

1948: birth of Rush Dew Holt, Jr.

1955: death of Rush Dew Holt, Sr.

February 17, 1955-December 1, 1956 finished Rush Dew Holt's House of Delegates term, continued to serve in the House of Delegates until 1957

1956: served as a Delegate at Large to the Republican National Convention

1956: completed graduate study work in connection with the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill

1956-1957: taught at Greenbrier College for Women

1957: stopped serving as professor at Greenbrier College, appointed to secretary of state of West Virginia (thru January, 1959)

1959-1960: served as Assistant Commissioner of Public Institutions in WV

1960-1974: appointed by Eisenhower to the Federal Housing Administration as special assistant to the commissioner for a program overseeing nursing homes

1974-1983: appointed by the Department of Housing and Urban Development to serve as assistant to the secretary for programs for the elderly and the handicapped

1983: retired from government service

2013: received an Honorary Degree from WVU

July 12, 2015: death

Sources:

A&M 1858, Helen Louise (Froelich) Holt (1913-2015) Papers, West Virginia and Regional History Center, West Virginia University Libraries.

Daly-Lipe, Patricia. Helen Holt: Memoir of a Servant Lady. The Pen Women Press, 2014.

Marquis-Who’s Who Incorporated. Who’s Who of American Women: A Biographical Dictionary of Notable Living American Women, Volume I (1958-1959). The Benson Printing Company, 1958.

Extent

24.14 Linear Feet (Summary: 24 ft. 1 in. (49 document cases, 5 in. each); (8 document cases, 2 1/2 in.); (1 flat storage box, 5 in.); (1 flat storage box, 4 in.); (2 flat storage boxes, 3 1/2 in. each); (1 flat storage box, 3 in.); (4 flat storage boxes, 1 1/2 in. each); 2 photos in photograph filing cabinets)

1.58 Megabytes (1 PDF file)

Overview

Papers of Helen Louise (Froelich) Holt (1913-2015) relating to her personal, educational, and political activities. Types of material include publications, clippings, correspondence, photographs, and ephemera, among others. The collection is divided into five series: Personal and Political Papers (1912-2015 and undated), Press and Media Activity (1937-2008 and undated), State Government Papers (1955-1960), Federal Government Papers (1960-1984 and undated), and Rush Dew Holt, Jr. Papers (1953-2014 and undated).

Arrangement

This collection is one of five (see also A&M 0873, 4218, 4039, and 3943) pertaining to Rush Dew Holt, Sr. and his family. The records have been gathered via multiple accruals from 1956 to 2016. Originally, these collections were divided between A&M 873 and A&M 1701, the latter also being composed of thirteen addenda and A&M 1858.

In an attempt to organize the collections in a more coherent fashion for patron use and to reflect the creator(s) in a more concise manner, the material was reevaluated and reorganized into the three sets of papers with distinct series and subseries: A&M 873: Rush Dew Holt (1905-1955) Papers; A&M 1858: Helen Holt (1913-2015) Papers; and A&M 4218: Rush Dew Holt Family Papers.

Because of the 2016-2017 reorganization, the physical arrangement no longer matches the intellectual arrangement and series order. Furthermore, any box and folder citations created prior to the above-mentioned project are likely no longer accurate.

For assistance locating material using an older citation, please ask a staff member of the West Virginia & Regional History Center.

Physical Location

West Virginia and Regional History Center / West Virginia University / 1549 University Avenue / P.O. Box 6069 / Morgantown, WV 26506-6069 / Phone: 304-293-3536 / Fax: 304-293-3981 / URL: https://wvrhc.lib.wvu.edu/

Related A&M Collections

0873, 1858, 4218, 4039, 3943
Title
Helen Holt Papers, 1938-1959
Author
Staff of the West Virginia & Regional History Center; James Shaver
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
English
Script of description
Code for undetermined script
Language of description note
English

Repository Details

Part of the West Virginia and Regional History Center Repository

Contact:
1549 University Ave.
P.O. Box 6069
Morgantown WV 26506-6069 US
304-293-3536