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Clintwood's Petticoat Government

On June 8, 1948, the town election in Clintwood, Virginia drew national and international attention when the voters elected an all-female town council and mayor. Mrs. Minnie "Sis" Miller was elected mayor and Mrs. Ferne W. Skeen, Mrs. Buena H. Smith, Mrs. Ida M. Cunningham, Mrs. Kate Friend, and Mrs. Marion Shortt were elected to the town council. The ladies took office in September, 1948.

Letters were received from around the world wishing them luck and expressing amazement that an all woman government could be elected anywhere. The State Department featured the story in its "Voice of America" broadcast.

Six of the women served only one term, however, Mrs. Ferne W. Skeen and Mrs. Buena H. Smith successfully sought re-election.

By all accounts, the "Petticoat Government" was highly successful and during their administration and many important improvement projects were undertaken including: clean-up campaigns, expanding parking in town, installing parking meters in the downtown area, purchasing a fire truck, organizing a systematic garbage disposal plan, and improving traffic hazards throughout town.

 

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Copyright Martha M. Short, 2000. This information is provided for your personal (non-commercial) use and is not to be distributed or reproduced without permission.