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Distinguished Lecture Celebrates First Woman Elected to U.S. Senate

Distinguished Lecture Celebrates First Woman Elected to U.S. Senate

Central Arkansas Library System’s (CALS) Butler Center for Arkansas Studies will host the second annual Betsey Wright Distinguished Lecture, “Hattie Caraway’s Long Shadow: Women in the U.S. Senate,” at 7:00 p.m. on Thursday, September 21, at the CALS Ron Robinson Theater, 100 River Market Ave., Little Rock. There will be a reception immediately following the lecture. Doors open at 6:00 p.m. The event is free and open to the public.

Dr. Donald A. Ritchie, Historian Emeritus of the United States Senate, will discuss the influence of women on Capitol Hill since Arkansas voters elected Hattie Caraway in 1932 – making her the first woman elected to the U.S. Senate. Ritchie will be introduced by former U.S. Senator Blanche Lincoln, the most recent woman to represent Arkansas in the Senate.

An award winning-author and editor, Ritchie’s books include Electing FDR: The New Deal Campaign of 1932 and Press Gallery: Congress and the Washington Correspondents. Ritchie is a graduate of City College of New York and received a master’s degree and a PhD from the University of Maryland. He served in the United States Marine Corps and joined the Senate Historical Office in 1976. As an associate historian, he sought to make Senate records more accessible, conducting numerous oral history interviews with senators and staff, providing archival assistance to senators and committees, and eventually starting a series of public outreach programs. He has served as president of the Oral History Association and on the councils of the American Historical Association and the International Oral History Association. Ritchie became the Senate historian in 2009 and held the post until he retired in 2015.

The Betsey Wright Distinguished Lecture focuses on matters of politics, government, and public policy of special interest to women. It pays tribute to the long political career and advocacy work of Betsey Wright, who served as chief of staff for Governor Bill Clinton for seven years and as deputy chair of the Clinton 1992 Presidential Campaign. She also served as executive director of the National Women’s Political Caucus and as campaign manager for Bill Clinton’s successful gubernatorial campaigns in 1982, 1984, and 1986.

For more information about Butler Center programming, contact Shelle Stormoe at 501-918-3033 or