Reva Beck Bosone

The first woman sent to the United States House of Representatives by the State of Utah was Reva Beck Bosone, who represented the Second Congressional District for the 1949-1951 term. Bosone had set precedents before--when she became Democratic floor leader of the Utah State House of Representatives, in which she served from 1933 to 1936, and when she became Utah's first woman judge, a post she held until 1948.

Reva Beck Bosone was born in American Fork, Utah, the only daughter among the four children of Christian M. and Zilpha Chipman Beck.  Reva Beck attended grammar and high schools in American Fork, graduated from the Westminster Junior College in Salt Lake City, and in 1920 received her Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of California, Berkeley. For the next seven years she taught in the high schools of her birthplace, in Delta, and in Ogden, Utah. 

Inspired by the memory of her mother's admonition that "a country is no better than its laws--if you want to serve all of the people, go where the laws are made," Reva Beck resigned from her teaching post in 1927 to read law at the University of Utah. She received her law degree in 1930. The previous year, she was married to Joseph P. Bosone, a lawyer. They were divorced in 1940. The Bosone family moved to the mining region of Carbon County where both Bosone and her husband practiced law under the firm name Bosone and Bosone until Mrs. Bosone became a candidate for the state legislature. Carrying her two-year-old daughter Zilpha, she conducted a door-to-door campaign that resulted in her election to the 1933 session of the Utah State House of Representatives with "the highest vote received by any candidate for an office in the county."

In 1935 she was returned to office from Salt Lake County. In the 1935 session Mrs. Bosone was elected floor leader of the Democratic members and also became the first woman member of the important Sifting Committee, as well as its chairman. Her role in obtaining passage of a minimum wage-and-hour law for women and children and of the Utah child labor constitutional amendment, was commended by Frances Perkins and Eleanor Roosevelt.

In 1936, after several months of private law practice in Salt Lake City, Bosone was elected city judge, and was successively reelected to that office until 1948. Sitting in both police and traffic courts (all traffic violations in Salt Lake City were filed in her court), she instituted extraordinary traffic fines--a conviction for drunken driving cost $300, for reckless driving $200. During her first year in office the number of traffic cases filed was tripled, and only three appeals from her judgments were sustained.

The election of Bosone to the United States House of Representatives over Republican William A. Dawson took place in November 1948, when she was chosen to represent the Second Congressional District of Utah comprising the four counties of Davis, Salt Lake, Tooele, and Utah. Her concept of a legislator's duties was contained in a pre-election statement: "Office holders should do the job that should be done, whether the required course of action is popular or not...The biggest need in politics and government today is for people of integrity and courage, who will do what they believe is right and not worry about the political consequences to themselves."

Additional archival materials

Reva Beck Bosone papers, 1927-1977

Reva Beck Bosone Photograph Collection

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