Ruth Baker Pratt (August 24, 1877 – August 23, 1965), was an American politician and the first female representative to be elected from New York.[1]

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 byWilliam W. Cohen
Succeeded byTheodore A. Peyser
Personal details
Born(1877-08-24)August 24, 1877
Ware, Massachusetts
DiedAugust 23, 1965(1965-08-23) (aged 87)
Glen Cove, Long Island
Political partyRepublican
Spouse(s)John Teele Pratt
Children5, including Edwin H Baker Pratt

Early lifeEdit

On August 24, 1877, Pratt was born as Ruth Sears Baker in Ware, Massachusetts. [2] Pratt's father was Edwin K. Baker, a dry-goods merchant.


Pratt attended Wellesley College.[2]

Political careerEdit

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.[3] 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),[4][5] being the first woman elected to Congress from New York, beating out her primary competitor Phelps Phelps.[6]

Pratt-Smoot ActEdit

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.[7]

Later lifeEdit

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.[8] She was interred at the Pratt Family Mausoleum, Old Tappan Road, Glen Cove.

Marriage and childrenEdit

She married John Teele Pratt, a corporate attorney, philanthropist, music impresario, and financier.[9]

Together, they had five children, including Edwin H Baker Pratt (1913–1975), whose son is singer-songwriter Andy Pratt.

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ 2017, 2009. "Ruth Sears Baker Pratt, The Junior League of New York". Retrieved 2017-08-27.
  2. ^ a b "PRATT, Ruth Sears Baker (1877-1965)". Retrieved October 24, 2018.
  3. ^ O'Dea, Suzanne (1999). From Suffrage to the Senate: An Encyclopedia of American Women in Politics. A - M. ABC-CLIO. p. 540. ISBN 9780874369601.
  4. ^ Ford, Lynne E. (2010-05-12). Encyclopedia of Women and American Politics. Infobase Publishing. p. 521. ISBN 9781438110325.
  5. ^ Thorne, Magdalena E. (2005). Women in Society: Achievements, Risks, and Challenges. Nova Publishers. p. 45. ISBN 9781590339428.
  6. ^ "National Affairs: Phelps-Pratt". Time. Time Inc. 17 September 1928. Retrieved 27 May 2010.
  7. ^ Wasniewski, Matthew Andrew (2006). Women in Congress, 1917-2006. Government Printing Office. p. 96. ISBN 9780160767531.
  8. ^ Wasniewski, Matthew Andrew (2006). Women in Congress, 1917-2006. Government Printing Office. p. 97. ISBN 9780160767531.
  9. ^ Stone, Kurt F. (2010-12-29). The Jews of Capitol Hill: A Compendium of Jewish Congressional Members. Scarecrow Press. ISBN 9780810877382.

External linksEdit

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