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




Manuscript Group 524
(9.52 cu. ft.)

In 1948, a group of influential women in the Republican Party approached Governor John H. Duff with the idea of honoring women who had given distinguished service through their careers to their communities, their state, and their country. The group thought the outstanding women should be recognized at the 1949 Pennsylvania Week. Pennsylvania Week was a week-long program featuring appearances by business leaders, movie stars, and other celebrities, home town celebrations, newspaper contests, radio skits, and open house programs by almost every business and industry in the state. Mrs. John Y. Huber, Jr. was named Vice-Chairman of Pennsylvania Week and she guided the activities of women throughout the Commonwealth for that event. Mrs. William H. Peace was appointed chairman of the plans which developed into the Distinguished Daughters of Pennsylvania Awards.

The first group of Distinguished Daughters was honored the following year, on October 18, 1949, at a presentation tea in the Governor's reception room in the capitol, preceding the Pennsylvania Week ceremonies. Seventeen women were chosen from sixty-seven nominations, covering over two-hundred women's clubs throughout the state, by a committee of judges. The women received medals made by the United States Mint, with a picture of William Penn on one side and the seal of the Commonwealth and the inscription "Distinguished Daughter of Pennsylvania" on the reverse, along with the nominee's name.

From 1949 to 2014, 492 women have been named Distinguished Daughters of Pennsylvania. The mission of the Distinguished Daughters is to honor outstanding women for their extraordinary service and contributions to the Commonwealth. The women honored are from diverse backgrounds, including education, science, law, medicine, business, public service, philanthropy, humanities, and the arts. Internationally known Distinguished Daughters include Pearl Buck, Grace Kelly, Teresa Heinz Kerry, Violet Oakley, Julie Nixon Eisenhower, Edna Andrade, Lee Ducat, and Marian Anderson.

Every year, nomination forms are sent to civic, cultural, professional, and educational organizations across Pennsylvania. Candidates are first reviewed by Distinguished Daughters from the nominees' geographic region (eastern, central, or western), who choose finalists to be considered at the state level. At a subsequent state wide meeting, to which all Distinguished Daughters are invited, the annual awardees are selected. Their names are sent to the Governor, who then notifies the new Distinguished Daughters. In October, the women are honored at an Annual Award Luncheon at the Governor's Residence, where they receive their medals and citations for their achievement.

The Distinguished Daughters of Pennsylvania donated the collection to the Commonwealth in 2013.

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