PA State Archives Hours, Directions, & Fees Research Topics Online Catalog Land Records




Manuscript Group 283
121 cu. ft.

Genevieve Blatt (b. 1913 - d. 1996), known as the "first lady" of Pennsylvania politics, was the first woman elected to a statewide political office in Pennsylvania and became the first woman to sit as a Pennsylvania appelate judge. Born in East Brady, Pa., she attended the University of Pittsburgh and received both her B.A. in 1933 and her M.A., in 1934. At the 1936 Democratic Convention in Philadelphia she was the first delegate to vote for Franklin Delano Roosevelt. In 1937 she obtained a law degree from the University of Pittsburgh Law School. As Solicitor for the City of Pittsburgh, she drafted the first smokestack ordinance to protect the environment. In 1947 Blatt was among the founders of the Americans for Democratic Action and also served as the Chief Examiner of the Pittsburgh Civil Service Commission.

In 1950 Blatt ran on the Democratic ticket as a candidate for Auditor General. She was elected as state Secretary of Internal Affairs in 1954, holding this office for three consecutive terms. In 1956 she was honored as a Distinguished Daughter of Pennsylvania. The Democratic nominee for the U.S. Senate in 1964, she lost to incumbent Republican Senator Hugh Scott. From 1964 through 1968, she served as a member of President Johnson's Consumer Advisory Council and subsequently as Assistant Director of the Office of Economic Opportunity. While judge of the Commonwealth Court, 1971-1993, Blatt ruled that high school sports teams in Pennsylvania could no longer discriminate on the basis of gender.

An important aspect of her life was her work within the Catholic Church where she was instrumental in the canonization of two saints: St. Elizabeth Ann Seton (1975) and St. John Newman (1977). In 1989 she was instrumental in bringing the time-honored tradition of the "Red Mass" to the Capitol Region. Judge Blatt was also the recipiant of three medals from popes in recognition of her work with church and society.

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  • PA State Archives Hours, Directions, & Fees Research Topics Online Catalog Land Records