First female United States Senator from Oregon.
Maurine Neuberger entered politics in her 40s, fast becoming the third ever woman elected to the United States Senate.
Born Maurine Brown, she followed her mother’s footsteps and worked as a school teacher. She taught physical education and modern dance until she met Richard Neuberger, who inspired her to follow him into politics. Five years after, Maurine Neuberger was elected to the Oregon House of Representatives, while her husband served in the State Senate. That made them the first married couple in US history to serve in the same legislature. The Neuberger “power couple” also worked together as freelance writers and published a book about their political rise.
She became nationally famous when she appeared in the State’s all-male House of Representatives wearing an apron and holding a mixing bowl. She argued for the repeal of a state ban on yellow margarine – which originated from the dairy industry fear of a substitute that looked like the real thing. Neuberger demonstrated how difficult it was to whip yellow food coloring into white margarine. Her demonstration ended the ban and paved her career as an advocate of consumer rights.
When serving in the US Senate, she became an early opponent of the tobacco industry – pushing for warning labels on cigarette packages and publishing a critical book about the dangers of smoking. She also called for pollution controls on cars and supported legalized abortion.
Neuberger decided against seeking re-election to a second full term because of the fundraising efforts that it would require. She went back to education and lectured in universities.
“We women in active politics and you women at home cannot live in this “changing world” without having a desire and a duty to let your thoughts be known“
More Interesting Anecdotes:
- At the age of 50, she became the center of a national fuss when appearing in a charity fashion show wearing a bathing suit. It was her way to answer the call for Senate wives to model clothes from their home state. She chose a swimwear brand from Oregon. When a debate around her choice developed in the press, she said: “Well, what’s so bad about it? If I go swimming, I do wear a bathing suit, you know”.
- In 2018 Portland State University honored Richard and Maurine Neuberger by renaming its Market Center Building in their memory.
- She briefly remarried and had no children.