Jane Briggs Hart Papers

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Jane Briggs Hart papers

The materials in this online repository form part of a larger Jane Briggs Hart papers collection held by the Bentley Historical Library. For a more complete index to the materials, please consult the collection's online finding aid.

For questions or more information, please contact the Bentley Historical Library's Division of Reference and Access Services

Aviator and wife of the late Senator Philip A. Hart. Scrapbooks, photographs, clippings, and papers documenting her life as wife of Senator Philip A. Hart, her family life, and to a lesser extent, her aviation activities.

Jane B. ("Janey") Hart is an aviator and wife of the late Senator Philip A. Hart. Jane Hart was born in Detroit, October 20, 1921, the daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Walter O. Briggs. She attended the Academies of the Sacred Heart in Detroit, Grosse Pointe, and Torresdale, Pennsylvania, and Manhattanville College in New York City. In 1970, she received her BA in anthropology from George Washington University.

Jane Hart was married June 19, 1943, to Philip A. Hart who then was a captain in the U.S. Army. They met when he was her brother's roommate at Georgetown University. The Harts had eight children: Ann, Jane Cameron, Walter, James, Michael, Clyde, Mary Catherine, and Laura Elizabeth. The Harts resided in Birmingham (Oakland County) until 1955, when Philip Hart became Michigan's Lieutenant Governor and the family moved to Lansing. In 1958, Philip Hart was elected to the United States Senate. He served nearly three full terms, resigning in 1976 because of poor health. Philip Hart died shortly after he left the Senate, in December of 1976.

Jane Hart was active in civic affairs and women's rights, and she shared her husband's interest in government and political activities. She was active in her husband's political campaigns and served as vice chairman of the Oakland County Democratic Committee. She was a founding member of the National Organization for Women, and served as board member and national convention delegate for the Birmingham League of Women Voters. She was charter vice president of the Guild of the Pontiac Urban League, a life member of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, a trustee of the Michigan 4-H Foundation, and a member of the board of the Sister Elizabeth Kenny Foundation.

Jane Hart earned her first pilot's license during World War II, after two years as a member of the Red Cross Motor Corps. Her interest in aviation has continued throughout her life; she owned and flew a twin engine six passenger Aero-Commander 500A, and she was the first licensed female helicopter pilot in Michigan. She was a captain in the Civil Air Patrol, a member of the Flying Farmers of Michigan, and a participant in several national cross-country air races.

In the early 1960s, Jane Hart was chosen to be part of the Lovelace Foundation's Woman in Space Program, a privately-funded project testing women pilots for astronaut fitness. She was one of only 13 women (the Mercury 13) to pass the rigorous physical tests developed by NASA to select their astronauts. Despite the test results, the women were not selected for space flights. She and Jerrie Cobb, the first candidate to qualify for astronaut training, went on to campaign in Washington for continuation of the program.

Please note:

Copyright is not held by the Regents of the University of Michigan.

Access to digitized sound recordings may be limited to the reading room of the Bentley Historical Library, located on the Ann Arbor campus of the University of Michigan.

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