The Kansas Historical Society is excited to announce that we've reached the 400,000 image milestone on Kansas Memory! The 400,000th image is a letter written on August 30, 1918 from Miss Jennie B. Momyer to Helen McKenna Mulvane, state chair of the Woman’s Committee of the Council of National Defense. The committee coordinated women’s activities and resources for national defense during World War I.
Momyer, a former superintendent of Barton County schools, writes to ask Mulvane to send her information about the civilian school for nurses. Momyer states that she knows women in Barton County who are too young to attend the recently established Army School of Nursing but want to pursue training to help the American war effort. The entire collection can be found here.
The digitization of the Council of National Defense Woman’s Committee collection was paid for through the Margot R. Swovelan Endowment Fund. Margot spent her entire career at the Kansas Historical Society working primarily with the newspaper collection. We are grateful for the generous gift from Margot's family, her husband, Ed Swovelan, and her brother, Eric Rinehart.
Georgia Neese was born in 1898 in Richland, Kansas, to Albert and Ellen Neese. Gray attended school in Topeka and graduated from Washburn College in 1921. While attending the Sisters of Bethany College, Topeka, she was one of Miss Marguerite Koontz's students who performed in the college’s Alumnae May Fete. The performance took place in Central Park on Saturday, May 20, 1916. Georgia Neese is on the far left in the photograph.
During college, she developed an interest in acting and after graduation attended the Franklin Sargent School of Dramatic Art and spent nearly ten years acting with various stock companies. She married her manager, George M. Clark in 1929. They divorced in the mid-1940s. She started working at her father's Richland State Bank as an assistant cashier in 1935 and became president in 1937 following his death. She became active in the state Democratic Party and was elected National Committee Woman in Kansas in 1936, a position she held until 1964. She was an early supporter of Harry Truman. It was this support that brought about her nomination as the first woman to be Treasurer of the United States. She served in that office from June 1949 until January 1953 when Truman left office.
Her name, Georgia Neese Clark, became known to millions through her signature on all U.S. currency issued while she was in office.
Reminiscing about her conversation with President Truman about taking the position, Gray said Truman pointed out the disadvantages of the job including low pay and asked her if she could afford to take the job. She replied, "Can I afford not to?" This is indicative of the zest and style with which she represented her position as first woman treasurer and her state.
Following her term, she returned to Kansas to work in the family's business. In the same year she married Andrew Gray and wished to become known as Georgia Neese Clark Gray. She remained active in national Democratic Party politics until 1964 when she resigned from the Democratic National Committee. Gray died in 1995.
Written by Pat Michaelis, Research Collections Division Director
Biographical information from Kansapedia