West Virginia & Regional History Collection

Finding Aid For: Holt, Rush Dew (1905-1955). Papers, 1851-1955.

Finding Aid Prepared by: Staff of the West Virginia & Regional History Collection

Summary Information
Title: Holt, Rush Dew (1905-1955). Papers
Creator: Holt, Rush Dew (1905-1955)
Inclusive dates: 1851-1955

Extent: 98 ft. 5 in. (233 document cases, 5 in. each); (1 document case, 2 1/2 in.); (3 large flat storage boxes, 3 in. each); (1 large flat storage box, 5 in.)
Correspondence and papers of Rush Dew Holt, Lewis County, as a sports writer, teacher, West Virginia state legislator at various dates from 1931 to 1949, and U.S. senator from West Virginia, 1935-1941. Material includes clippings, scrapbooks, photographs, speeches, phonograph recordings, writings, press releases, political cartoons, and printed matter. Also included are personal papers of Dr. M.S. Holt (1850-1939), father of Senator Holt, and Ralph K. Chase (1900-1947), brother-in-law of the senator. Subjects include: state and national politics, 1920-1954; U.S. Senator Matthew M. Neely; the public utilities industry and investigations of it by the West Virginia House of Delegates; the Wheeler-Rayburn Holding Company Act; taxation and the cost of government; the National Recovery Administration; Huey P. Long; organized labor (including the United Mine Workers of America, the Congress of Industrial Organizations, the American Federation of Labor, the Progressive Miners of America, John L. Lewis, and Van A. Bittner); the Works Progress Administration; Harry L. Hopkins; Walter Thurmond; the Guffey Coal Act; the National Bituminous Coal Commission; the National Labor Relations Board; public education; the Supreme Court reorganization bill; the anti-lynching bill; social security and government relief; political patronage and graft; reciprocal trade agreements; the Roosevelt Administration's foreign policy; and the America First Committee. Correspondents include Michael L. Benedum, Van A. Bittner, Hugo L. Black, Harry F. Byrd, William G. Conley, Roy Bird Cook, Charles E. Coughlin, John B. Easton, Andrew Edmiston, James A. Farley, Hamilton Fish, John N. Garner, William Green, Walter S. Hallanan, Sigfrid Hauck, Homer A. Holt, Matthew S. Holt, Harry I. Hopkins, Harold Ickes, Anna Jarvis, Hiram Johnson, John Kee, Robert G. Kelly, H.G. Kump, Robert M. LaFollette, Jr., William Lemke, John L. Lewis, Huey P. Long, Sam Mallison, Clarence W. Meadows, H.I. Mencken, Matthew M. Neely, Gerald P. Nye, George N. Peek, Claude Pepper, Jennings Randolph, John E. Rankin, James Roosevelt, Upton Sinclair, Gerald L.K. Smith, Walter R. Thurmond, Hector B. Trujillo, Harry S. Truman, John R. Turner, Burton K. Wheeler, Walter White, and Aubrey Williams. There are processing notes for the correspondence during the years 1928-1942 which give a fuller description of the collection. The papers of M.S. Holt, Sr., concern the newspaper business, horse breeding, local, state, and national politics, the Socialist Party of West Virginia, and the practice of medicine. There are medical account books, an account book for the Weston REPUBLICAN, ca.1879-1880, and two daybooks for the Weston REPUBLICAN, 1881-1893. The papers of Ralph K. Chase include legal and personal correspondence, law school notebooks, and materials relating to the U.S. Maritime Commission; papers of Andrew E. Holt, brother of Rush D. Holt, and papers relating to the Weston Cash Grocery and other family matters. Also included are seventeen tape recordings of speeches by Senator Holt. For photographs related to this collection, go to wvhistoryonview.org and search for this collection's four digit call number (otherwise known as an a&m number).

Call number: A&M No.: 873
Language: The materials are in English
Repository: West Virginia & Regional History Collection

Access and Use
Access Restrictions:

No special access restriction applies.


WV&RHC Retains all Rights

Preferred Citation:

A&M No. and Collection Title

Related A&M Nos.:

873, 1701, 3943

Separated Material:

Historical Note

Biographical Sketches of the Holt Family

Rush Dew Holt, Sr.

Rush D. Holt was born in Weston, West Virginia in 1905 to Dr. Matthew S. Holt and Chihela Dew Holt. Dr. Holt was a respected physician, horse breeder and a controversial political figure. He was a self proclaimed socialist, atheist and pacifist. His outspoken opposition to America's involvement in War World I brought much criticism and physical attacks against Dr. Holt, his home and family, for his 'anti-American' opinions, but Dr. Holt held firm to his views. Rush's mother, Chihela Dew Holt was the first female graduate of Salem College and later taught in a business school. After her marriage to Dr. Holt and birthing seven children, Chihela opened her own grocery store next to the family home. Rush Holt was raised in a free thinking home where honesty, kindness and education were foundational.

After graduating from high school with honors at the age of 15, Rush attended West Virginia University, later transferring to Salem College where he earned a Bachelors of Arts Degree in 1924. He taught and coached in high schools, and in Glenville and Salem Colleges. In 1930 Rush was elected to his first public office as a Delegate to the West Virginia Legislature. By 1934 he had the political support to defeat incumbent Senator Henry Hatifield. At the age of 29, Rush Holt became the youngest person to win a United States Senate seat. However, Senator-elect Holt could not be sworn in until June, 1935 when he turn thirty years old, meeting the constitutional age requirement for senators. Though Senator Holt was referred to as the 'Boy Senator' and President Franklin Delano Roosevelt's 'Golden Boy', his political honeymoon would shortly end. Senator Holt began to criticize the administration for its New Deal policies, and adamantly fought FDR's attempt to 'pack' the Supreme Court with FDR nominees by changing the number of sitting justices from 9 to 12. Things turned very ugly as Senator Holt campaigned against any attempts by the administration to become involved in the European War. All this lead to Rush Holt losing his bid for renomination to his senate seat.

In 1940, Senator Holt met Helen L. Froelich, a biology teacher at the National Park College near Washington. They were married a year later and had two children, a daughter, Helen Jane Holt and a son, Rush Dew Holt, Jr. When Senator Holt's sister died in 1952, the couple adopted her son, David. When the Holts returned to West Virginia after 1941, Rush Holt stayed involved in politics by accepting speaking engagements, and by publishing a newspaper titled 'The West Virginia Taxpayer' which attacked government spending and excessive taxation.

Rush Holt ran several times for state and national offices with little success In 1952 he came very close to winning the race for West Virginia governor as the Republican candidate, losing to William Marland. Rush was returned to the House of Delegates in the West Virginia legislature by the voters of Lewis County in 1954. Senator Rush Dew Holt died in 1955 after a long, tough campaign against cancer.

Helen Froelich Holt

Helen Louise Holt was born in Gridley, Illinois, in 1913, the daughter of William and Edna Froelich, a well respected farming family. William Froelich served several terms as mayor of Gridley. Helen graduated from high school in 1930; attended Stephens College, receiving an A.A. degree in 1932; and attended Northwestern University, earning a B.A. in 1934 and a M.S. in Biology in 1938. Later Helen started working toward a doctorate at University of Missouri and University of North Carolina. She was a science librarian and teaching assistant at Stephens College and taught Biology at National Park College near Washington D.C., 1938-1941. In 1940, Helen Froelich was introduced to the junior Senator from West Virginia, Rush Dew Holt by Senator Holt's sister, Jane, after the Senator saw Helen's picture in Life Magazine. The article refuted a letter written by a reader claiming female teachers were 'ugly' by publishing photographs of attractive, intelligent women educators. All the photographs were sent to the magazine by students, including Helen Froelich's. Senator Holt and Helen Froelich were married a year later.

The couple moved to West Virginia after Senator Holt lost his bid for renomination to retain his senate seat. Two children were born to the couple, Helen Jane Holt and Rush Dew Holt, Jr. During this period, Mrs. Holt described herself as a homemaker while Senator Holt worked on restoring his political career and running for office. Helen Holt was involved in the inner circle of her husband's campaigns and during his service in the West Virginia legislature. In 1955, Rush Dew Holt died of cancer, and Helen Holt was appointed by the governor to fulfill her late husband's term in the House of Delegates. In 1957, after the death of the Secretary of State, Governor Cecil Underwood appointed Helen Holt to the office of Secretary of State, making her the first woman to hold that position in West Virginia history. After losing to Joe F. Burdett for election to the office in 1958, Mrs. Holt continued to break the gender barrier: she was the first woman appointed assistant commissioner of public institutions in West Virginia, she was voted to serve as a delegate at large at the Republican Convention, and she was later the first woman to serve as a trustee on the Board of the National Presbyterian Church in Washington. In 1960, Helen Holt received a Presidential appointment as Special Assistant to the Commissioner of the Federal Housing Administration. She was later made the Director of Mortgage Insurance for Nursing Homes, and assistant to Secretary of Housing and Urban Development. Helen Froelich Holt retired from government service in 1983, but still remains active in her church, family and public service.

Rush Dew Holt, Jr.

Rush Dew Holt, Jr. was born in Weston, West Virginia in 1948. He is the son of the late U.S. Senator from West Virginia, (1935-1941) Rush Dew Holt, Sr. and Helen Froelich Holt, the first woman to be appointed West Virginia Secretary of State, (1957-1959) and presidential appointee to HUD, (retired, 1983). Rush, Jr. graduated from Carleton College in Minnesota with a B.A. in Physics, and earned a M.S. and a PHD from NYU. In 1989 to 1998, Holt was Assistant Director of the Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory. He has worked on developing alternative energy and has his own patent for a solar energy device.

In 1996, Holt lost his first race for office, losing in the primary for a congressional seat in New Jersey. In 1998, he won the election in the same district; and in the 2000 race he barely beat his challenger, winning by only 1,101 votes. Redistricting before the 2002 election gave Holt a comfortable hold on his district and he was returned to the House of Representatives through the 2006 election.

Congressman Holt is married to Margaret Lancefield, a physician and Medical Director of the Princeton Charity Care Clinic. They have three children, Michael, Rachel and Dejan.

Collection Scope and Content Note

Subject Terms
  • America First Committee.
  • American Federation of Labor.
  • Congress of Industrial Organizations.
  • National Bituminous Coal Commission.
  • National Labor Relations Board.
  • Progessive Mine Workers of America.
  • Progressive Mine Workers of America.
  • Socialist Party U.S.A.
  • Socialist Party.
  • United Mine Workers of America.
  • United States - Maritime Commission.
  • United States - National Recovery Administration.
  • United States - Supreme Court.
  • United States Maritime Commission.
  • United States Supreme Court.
  • United States. Congress. Senate.
  • West Virginia - Legislature.
  • Weston Cash Grocery.
  • Works Progess Administration.
  • Works Progress Administration.
  • Abert, Captain William S.
  • Benedum, Michael L.
  • Bittner, Van A. (Van Amberg), 1885-1949.
  • Black, Hugo L.
  • Byrd, Harry F.
  • Chase, Ralph K.
  • Conley, William G.
  • Cook, Roy Bird.
  • Coughlin, Charles E.
  • Easton, John B.
  • Edmiston, Andrew.
  • Farley, James A.
  • Fish, Hamilton.
  • Garner, John N.
  • Green, William.
  • Hallanan, Walter S. (Walter Simms), 1890-1962.
  • Hauck, Sigfrid.
  • Holt, Andrew E.
  • Holt, Helen F.
  • Holt, Homer A.
  • Holt, Homer Adams.
  • Holt, Matthew S.
  • Holt, Matthew S. Sr.
  • Holt, Matthew S., Jr.
  • Holt, Matthew S., Sr.
  • Holt, Rush Dew.
  • Hopkins, Harry L.
  • Ickes, Harold L.
  • Ickes, Harold.
  • Jarvis, Anna.
  • Johnson, Hiram.
  • Kee, John.
  • Kelly, Robert G.
  • Kump, Herman G.
  • Kump, Herman Guy.
  • LaFollette, Robert M.
  • Lewis County.
  • Accounts and account books.
  • Cattle and livestock.
  • Coal mining - Labor organization.
  • Editors - letters and papers.
  • Education.
  • Education. SEE ALSO Schools.
  • Elections.
  • Guffey Coal Act.
  • Lawyers - letters and papers.
  • Medicine - Folk remedies.
  • Medicine.
  • Medicine. SEE ALSO Folk medicine.
  • New Deal.
  • Physicians - letters and papers.
  • Politics and government.
  • Public utilities industry.
  • Public Utilities.
  • School teachers.
  • Schools.
  • Social Security.
  • Taxes and taxation.
  • Union names.
  • Unions.
  • Unions. SEE ALSO Labor organization.
  • United States - New Deal.
  • United States - Social Security.
  • Wheeler-Rayburn Holding Company Act.
  • Women's history - 1850-1899.
  • Women's history - 1900-1929.
  • Women's history - 1929-1950.
  • Women's history - 1951-present.
  • Women's history.
  • Weston Republican.
  • Weston REPUBLICAN.