This collection includes four interviews detailing the life and political career of Jeannette Rankin. The interviews were conducted in 1980 by Helen Bonner, a University of Ohio graduate, as research for her screenplay, A Higher Loyalty: The Jeannette Rankin Story. The interviewees include: former Montana legislators Thomas Haines and Winfield Page; Rankin’s former press secretary Belle Weinstein; and Vivian Halinan, former president of the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom. They discuss Rankin’s involvement with the women’s suffrage movement and Montana politics from the 1920s to the 1950s. The original interviews are held as Oral History collection OH 104 at Archives and Special Collections, Mansfield Library, University of Montana-Missoula.
This collection includes 4 interviews.
Belle Winestine reminisces on the years she and Jeannette Rankin spent working for women's suffrage in Montana and her experience giving speeches on the street in favor of a woman’s right to vote. Winestine recalls how she quit her job as a reporter and went to work for Rankin in Washington, D.C. after Rankin was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives. Winestine describes he role as press secretary and a ghostwriter, authoring Jeannette’s weekly article for the Chicago Herald Syndicate. Winestine talks about her experiences as a woman working in Washington, D.C. and how she was treated. She also shares memories of Rankin’s dissenting vote on the U.S. House’s resolution to declare war on Germany during World War One. Winestine remembers how Rankin cried following the vote. She explains the professional nature of her friendship with Rankin, and describes the different relationships among the Rankin family members.
Former Montana legislator Tom Haines recalls interactions with Jeannette Rankin and her brother Wellington Rankin throughout his political career, during which he served 11 consecutive terms (1950-1974). Haines talks about Jeannette Rankin’s tenacity in pursuing votes on the campaign trail. He then discusses Wellington Rankin, his marriages, and his very close relationship to Jeannette. Haines also describes Jeannette Rankin’s overall influence in Montana, how he encountered a number of people who believed she didn’t do anything for Montana, and how her legacy seemed to diminish after her death.
Vivian Halinan describes traveling with her friend, Jeannette Rankin, to Czechoslovakia (now the Czech Republic) in 1968 when they were both members of the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom. Halinan talks about Rankin’s non-political interests and activities, noting that Rankin was not the political animal that people thought her to be. Halinan shares her experience helping Rankin with the Jeannette Rankin Brigade, an organization that coordinated women’s protests against the Vietnam War across the United States. Halinan goes on to discuss Rankin’s decisions to vote against both World Wars. She also recalls Rankin’s close friendships and family ties as well as her sense of duty towards her siblings and her attitudes towards marriage which influenced her decision not to marry.
Winfield Page discusses his relationship with the Rankin family, most notably Jeannette Rankin and Wellington Rankin, as well as his own involvement in Montana politics from the 1920s to the post-World War Two period. Page, who served in the Montana Legislature from 1943 to 1961, describes running against Jeannette Rankin in 1940 and against Wellington Rankin for National Committeeman. Page remarks on the ambitious nature of the Rankin family, especially the financial frugalness and dominating personality of Wellington Rankin. He also mentions other Montana politicians such as Burton K. Wheeler and his association with the Industrial Worker of the World [IWW] and the Non-Partisan League. Page also describes the control and power the Anaconda Copper Mining Company (“The Company”) had over Montana politics, including The Company’s request that Jeannette Rankin not run for re-election to make room for Mike Mansfield.