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Miss Simpson: 1926

January 15, 1926. Washington, D.C. "Miss Mary J. Simpson, journal clerk of the Senate." National Photo Company Collection glass negative. View full size.

January 15, 1926. Washington, D.C. "Miss Mary J. Simpson, journal clerk of the Senate." National Photo Company Collection glass negative. View full size.


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Owned Brassknocker Farm

My dad worked for Miss Jean at Brassknocker Farm in E. Craftsbury in the late 40's. I mowed her sisters lawn next door. Miss Jean was a very prom and proper lady.

Miss S

With such an impressive resume, I wouldn't think it matters what she looks like.

Give Her a Break

Okay, so she's no Mary Pickford. She was obviously a highly intelligent and accomplished woman in an era when few women reached positions of responsibility. I admire her achievements, even as I acknowledge her unfortunate hairstyle.

Miss Simpson: 1926

From the Vermont Historical Society:

Mary Jean Simpson was born in East Craftsbury, Vermont and attended Craftsbury Academy, Wheaton Seminary in Massachusetts, and St. Johnsbury Academy from which she graduated in 1908. She went on to the University of Vermont, but transferred to Mount Holyoke College, which she left after her sophomore year when she returned to UVM. In 1913 she graduated with a PhD and turned to teaching. From 1913-1916 she taught at People's Academy in Morrisville, was head of the History Department at Montpelier High School from 1916-1918, and became the Principal of People's Academy from 1918-1920. In 1921 she moved to New York City to pursue graduate work at Columbia University. While there, she did some substitute teaching and started a Fresh Air program that arranged for New York City children to visit Craftsbury during the summer. Simpson returned to Craftsbury in 1924 and decided to run for the Vermont State Legislature. She was elected and served on the Fish and Game and Military Committees, but requested a transfer to the Education Committee. She worked to tighten a 1921 billboard law, which made her the first Vermont woman to submit a bill. After her one term, she moved to Washington, D.C. to become Bill Clerk in the Office of the Secretary of the United States Senate, and became the first woman to ever be selected for this position. Simpson came back to Vermont in 1933 and was the head of Women's Work in the Civil Works Administration and was the Executive Director of the professional programs of the Vermont Emergency Relief Administration. In 1935 she directed the Women's and Professional Division of the Vermont Works Progress Administration and the Vermont's Civilian Conservation Corps. She agreed in 1937 to become the third Dean of Women at the University of Vermont. She stayed in that position until 1955 and, while at UVM, she helped set up the school's first infirmary and recruit the woman who started the university's first nursing program. A dormitory at UVM now carries Simpson's name, and she was presented with a Distinguished Service Award in 1961. At graduation every year, UVM presents the Mary Jean Simpson award to a senior woman who best exemplifies some of the former dean's qualities of character, leadership, and scholarship. After retirement, Simpson made her home in East Craftsbury and remained active in state and civic affairs until her death in 1977.


Certainly not related to Homer!

She would be pretty if only she --

Lost the glasses.
Got some chapstick.
Let her hair grow out.

For the love, just smile!

The profile of her face in the photo does her no favors either. She was only, what, 34 in this photo?


Looks somewhat like Bette Davis in one her spinster roles.

Miss Swann

She looka lika man!

From serious to "cheese!"

Didja ever wonder who was the first shutterbug to prompt his subject to smile instead of look like they were posing for an oil painting? I know why Brady-era subjects looked stern - even a well-lit scene could take 30-45 seconds to expose, and a neutral expression is easier to hold for that long. But, my gosh, by 1926, film was fast enough (and it looks like a flash was used), so that Miss Simpson could relax a little at least!

Her nickname:

"Dollar Bill." I'm just sayin'


I'll bet she was a real firecracker in the sack!

What a babe!

Is this Miss Hathaway's sister?

A certain ember burning within

Ah, but for the intervening decades she would be mine - She WOULD be mine.

That's no lady

That's Bob Hope in drag.

Hit and Miss

Not to be too snide, but this Miss will probably say a Miss. I can only hope her personality was just a tad better than her appearance.

Can't fool me.

That is Conan O'Brian in disguise, even with a serious face in a black and white photo, one can detect his red hair and freckles.

A resemblance?

I wonder if she was any relation to George Washington.

What my mother

would call "plain"

Something tells me

that Miss Simpson was not one to throw caution to the winds.

Flat as a Fritter

My mother told me in the 20's women bound their bosoms by winding a cloth tightly around their chest so as to make them conform to the flat-chested flapper look popular in the mid-20's.

What a clean desk! What a severe expression!

She looks like she stepped out of an Agatha Christie novel of the 1920s. She'd be at home on the Blue Train, or working at the Vicarage. With her background, it seems that she certainly knew how to handle a gun, with er work on "fish and game" and "military affairs" committees.

Did she remain Miss Simpson? Any idea of the rest of her autobiography?

Something in those Green Mountains

Miss Simpson appears to share the same easygoing, lighthearted outlook on life evinced by her fellow Vermonter and president, Calvin Coolidge.

Not a Happy Camper

Look at her face -- she's got the angry-librarian look nailed. Once she gets a few more wrinkles to give her gravitas, she'll be telling the Senators which way to vote.

An early career-woman prototype

This Miss Simpson had quite a responsibility. She probably transcribed the happenings in the Senate Chambers, prepared them for print, and then kept copies of all of the bills and resolutions. I see where even before her Senate appointment, she served in the Vermont legislature in what most certainly was an elected position. As an aside, I am fascinated by the heavily-marceled hairdo.

First Woman Bill Clerk

Washington Post, Jan 8, 1926

Vermont Woman is Senate Office Aid

Miss Mary J. Simpson, a former member of the Vermont legislature, has been appointed a bill clerk in the office of the secretary of the Senate. She is the first woman ever to serve in that capacity, receiving her appointment on the recommendation of Senator Dale, of Vermont.

She was educated at Craftsbury academy, Wheaton seminary, St. Johnsbury academy and University of Vermont. She taught for several years and while a member of the legislature served on committees on fish and game and military affairs.

All that's missing

is the hairnet and Arte Johnson and a park bench.

Before you click --

Normally I'm excited to see the full size version.
Not this time! Sheesh! Big mistake!
That face could stop a moose at 40 paces.

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