Ella T. Grasso ’40 Papers
Open to Public
T. Grasso ’40
The Ella T.
Grasso papers, housed at the Mount Holyoke College
Archives and Special Collections, are now open to the public.
Grasso (1919–1981), who earned both A.B. and M.A. degrees
from Mount Holyoke, became the first woman governor of Connecticut
and the first woman
governor elected in her own right. Grasso also served in the U.S.
House of Representatives from 1970 to 1974, and the bulk of the
documents date from those years.
her political career working for the Connecticut State
Department of Labor in 1942. In 1952 she was elected as a Democrat
to the House of Representatives of the Connecticut General Assembly,
where she served until 1958, when she became Connecticut secretary
of state. She worked in various capacities for the Democratic
Party at the state and national levels. In 1970 she was elected
United States House of Representatives from Connecticut’s
Sixth District. While in Congress she served on the Education
and Labor Committee and the Veterans Affairs Committee. In 1974
was elected as governor of Connecticut. She was reelected in
1978, but resigned from office on December 31, 1980, due to illness.
to archives intern Ralitsa Donkova ’05, who processed
the Grasso papers last summer, the papers were originally housed
at the Washington National Records Center. Grasso’s husband,
Thomas, transferred them to Mount Holyoke in 1983. A classmate
of Grasso also contributed materials from her various political
campaigns, and Grasso’s
niece donated her A.B. and M.A. Mount Holyoke diplomas.
The collection will be a valuable resource for scholars of
political science, history, and economics of the early 1970s,
as it provides
primary sources on veterans affairs, the Vietnam War, President
Richard Nixon’s impeachment, gas prices and fuel shortages,
family planning and birth control, and education legislation.
Of special interest are the files on family planning and control,
as this was the period of the Supreme Court’s 1973 decision
in Roe v. Wade.
politics major, enjoyed working on the project. “She
was a very controversial person,” Donkova said of Grasso.
Donkova is struck by the similarity of the issues society
faced then and now. “There was conflict over the Vietnam
war, the energy crisis, and Roe v. Wade. That was 30 years
it’s the same issues: another war, an energy crisis,
and Roe v. Wade.”
to reading all the documents, making certain they were properly
arranged by date and subject matter, and filing them
boxes, Donkova wrote the finding aid of the collection.
She is also creating an online exhibition and a regular exhibition
about the Grasso collection, to open in mid-February,
Donkova has worked at the archives for the past two-and-a-half
project was funded by Clara R. Ludwig ’37,
Mary Tuttle ’37, Gwendolyn Glass ’46, and an
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