Martha Wright Griffiths Papers

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Martha Wright Griffiths papers

The materials in this online repository form part of a larger Martha Wright Griffiths 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

Detroit, Michigan, attorney, Democratic member of the U.S. House of Representatives, 1955-1974, and member of the House Ways and Means Committee. Congressional papers, arranged by term, include legislative files, bills files, topical files, schedules, sound recordings, photographs, motion pictures, and scrapbooks. The collection details relationship with colleagues and constituents and pertains to committee activities, legislation sponsored, and issues of the day. Topics of interest include civil rights, the war in Vietnam, Sleeping Bear Dunes, the humane slaughtering of animals, the economy and the fiscal policy of the federal government, women's rights, the Equal Rights Amendment, economic problems of women, and the need for national health insurance legislation.

Martha W. Griffiths was born in Pierce City, Missouri in 1912. She received her A.B. from the University of Missouri in 1934 and her J.D. degree from the University of Michigan Law School in 1940. She began practicing law in 1941 but soon turned her attention to Michigan politics (where she had moved) and began seeking public office. She was a member of the Michigan State Legislature from 1948 to 1952, a judge of Detroit's Recorder's Court, 1953 to 1954, and from 1955 to 1974, a Democratic member of the U.S. House of Representatives. Following her retirement from the House, Griffiths continued in her advocacy of women's issues, particularly the Equal Rights Amendment. In 1982, she was elected to the office of Lieutenant Governor of Michigan where she served with Governor James Blanchard. She was re-elected in 1986, but was not renominated in 1990. As the Martha Griffiths papers consists solely of files created when serving within the Congress, this biographical note will emphasize Griffiths' service and contributions within that body.

Griffiths represented the people of the seventeenth congressional district of Michigan for ten terms, the 84th through the 93rd Congress. Her first assignments were on the Banking and Currency Committee and the Government Operations Committee. In 1961, she was appointed a member of the Joint Economic Committee of the House and the Senate, which was an advisory group to the Congress similar to the President's Council of Economic Advisors. Within this group, Griffiths was named chair of the Subcommittee on Fiscal Policy. In 1962, Griffiths was elected a member of the powerful Ways and Means Committee, then under the chairmanship of Wilbur Mills. The Ways and Means Committee was responsible for financial bills, including those relating to federal tax policy.

In Congress, Griffiths was an ardent Democrat and supporter of legislation aimed at improving education, health, conservation, and social security benefits. Griffiths also championed women's issues. She sought through legislation to remove inequities in the payment of social security benefits and other government programs. And from 1959 until her retirement from office, she sponsored a resolution in the House proposing an equal rights amendment to the Constitution.

Please note:

Copyright has not been transferred to 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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