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Betty Hudson papers

 Collection
Identifier: RG069_175

Scope and Content

The papers were arranged into eight series which reflect the legislative and political career, civic and community activism, and personal views of Betty Hudson.

Series 1. Personal and Political Papers, 1961-2006, undated, consists of materials relating to Hudson's personal life, as well as political activities not directly relating to her legislative or constituent services duties. This series is further arranged into four sub-series: Personal Papers, Political Papers, Awards and Certificates, and Campaign Files. Personal Papers include correspondence with friends and relatives, college coursework, materials from conferences and seminars pertaining to personal development/interest, event invitations and programs, recipes, school newsletters, and personnel records from Hudson's tenure in the Bureau of Field Operations. Political Papers include calendars, clippings, conference materials, correspondence, court rulings, directories, event programs, fact sheets, organization information, pamphlets, reports, and speeches relating to Hudson's civic activism and general political advocacy. Awards and Certificates include engraved plaques, framed and unframed certificates, and trophies Hudson received in recognition for her advocacy and service. Campaign Files document Hudson's campaign for the Madison Board of Selectmen in 1972, her campaigns for the State Senate in 1974 and 1976, and her decision not to seek re-election in 1978. Materials in this sub-series include clippings, correspondence, fundraising letters and raffle efforts, notes, reports, and treasurer's receipts. This sub-series also contains advertisements, bumper stickers, fliers, and leaflets from other 1970s Democratic political candidates, ranging from the town level to the president of the United States.

Series 2. Legislative Records, 1969-1993, undated, consists of transcripts, testimonies, notes, and materials that Hudson gathered pertaining to legislation regarding abortion access, gay rights, gender title, sexual orientation, human rights, and other subjects. This series also includes Connecticut General Assembly handbooks, manuals, and indexes.

Series 3. Constituent Services Files, 1973-1990, undated, contains correspondence from constituents as well as Hudson's replies. It also includes memoranda she sent to Governors Grasso and O'Neill regularly about constituent issues.

Series 4. Press Files, 1962-2006, undated, consists of materials and commentary about feminist and social issues important to Hudson. This series is further arranged into three sub-series: Clippings, Newsletters, and Press Releases. Clippings include articles, columns, editorials, and political cartoons. These are arranged chronologically where possible, with undated items arranged alphabetically by subject. Some oversize items, including full newspapers, magazines, and a calendar, are stored together in a separate box. Newsletters are arranged alphabetically by title. Press Releases are arranged chronologically, and also include a TV show transcript and dictation procedures.

Series 5. Publications, 1976-1987, contains two books. One is by Kate Millett and chronicles a lesbian relationship. The other is by Evan Woollacott and chronicles the history of the Simsbury Town Meeting.

Series 6. Photographs, 1971-2004, undated, consists of both color and black-and-white photographs documenting Hudson's personal and political activities. These include political demonstrations and campaigns, solo and group portraits, professional publicity shots of Hudson working in her office, and candid photographs of various events and gatherings Hudson attended.

Series 7. Audiovisual, 2006, contains one DVD which records the Connecticut Network's Connecticut Central State University Case Study Forum on Gay Rights Legislation.

Series 8. Artifacts, circa 1970s-1990, undated, includes badges from conferences and meetings Hudson attended as a State Senator, buttons from political campaigns, oversize official citations and statements, and other unique ephemera such as a chip from the marble block used to carve the commemorative statue of Governor Ella Grasso, a paperweight made of a piece of metal bar from the former New Haven Jail, a personalized signature stamp, a caricature portrait of Hudson, and a "female power" symbol patch.

Restricted, 1961-1984, undated, contains a life insurance policy for Betty Hudson, as well as school reports and papers for Leigh Hudson and Todd Hudson.

Dates

  • 1961-2006

Language of Materials

The records are in English.

Restrictions on Access

Series 7. Audiovisual, 2006, is restricted. Contact State Archives staff for assistance.

These records are stored at an off-site facility and therefore may not be available on a same-day basis.

See the Rules and Procedures for Researchers Using Archival Records and Secured Collections policy.

Biographical Note

Betty Hudson, née Elizabeth Bagi, was born on March 5, 1931 in Port Chester, New York, along with her identical twin sister, Mary "Re-Re." She attended Stamford High School and Michigan State University, married Donald Hudson, and settled in Branford, Connecticut. The couple had two children, Todd and Leigh, and eventually relocated to Madison, Connecticut, where Hudson began her political career. In 1974, she legally changed her first name to "Betty."

Hudson was one of the first women elected to the Connecticut State Senate. Her political career began in 1972 when she staged a protest in Madison after having teetered "on the edge of a [bus] seat while chaperoning her son's class trip to a Shakespeare play in Stratford" (Roessner, 1979). The protest brought media attention and led to her successfully getting the school bus seating capacity for secondary school students reduced from 66 to 44.

Hudson served on the Madison Board of First Selectmen from 1971-1975. She believed that gender titles should match the gender of the office holder and persuaded State Representative Bruce Morris to introduce a bill on the issue. She then organized supporters and testified in public hearings on the Gender Title Bill, which was passed in 1972. Hudson continued this fight for many years beyond, persuading local, state, and federal elected officials to use gender titles that match the gender of the office holder.

In 1974, Betty Hudson received the Democratic nomination to run for State Senate from the 33rd District. She won against her Republican opponent in an overwhelmingly Republican Senatorial District (Roessner, 1979). As a State Senator from 1975-1979, she served as chairwoman of the Human Services Committee and the Human Rights and Opportunities Committee. She was also a member of the Appropriations Committee, Regulations Review Committee, and Permanent Commission on the Status of Women (PCSW). During her four years in office, Hudson helped "rewrite the state's rape laws, expand the powers of the Commission on Human Rights and Opportunities, enlarge state day care services and establish an office of advocacy for the handicapped" (Roessner, 1979). She was pro-choice and an active supporter of the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA). Under her guidance, the state passed laws strengthening court-ordered child support with automatic wage attachment, a law requiring police intervention in domestic violence to protect women from retribution, and the establishment of a statewide program of shelters for battered women. She also initiated laws for affirmative action and Medicaid funding for abortion. In 1975, Hudson introduced a bill guaranteeing equal rights to gay people. The Senate passed the bill, making it the first state legislative chamber to pass such a bill in the United States. However, it did not pass in the House, and equal rights for gays did not become law in Connecticut until 1991 (Love, 2006).

Betty Hudson decided not to seek re-election in 1978 for another term. In January 1979, Governor Ella Grasso appointed her as the governor's first Special Assistant for Human Services. In this role, she was the liaison between the Governor's Office and several state human services departments and agencies, including the Department of Human Resources, Department of Income Maintenance, Department of Children and Youth Services, Department of Mental Health, and many others. Hudson served both Governors Ella Grasso and William O'Neill in this capacity. In 1985, she left the Governor's Office to take a position with the Department of Human Resources, first as the Executive Assistant to the Commissioner and later as the Director of the Bureau of Field Operations. She retired in 1991.

In 1976, Hudson and her husband divorced after 27 years of marriage, and she moved to Simsbury, Connecticut with her long-time friend and companion, Fran Roberts. While living there, she got involved in community issues, and was instrumental in creating the Old Drake Hill Flower Bridge. She enjoyed traveling and was an avid reader, birding enthusiast, team bowler, and fan of the Hartford Hawks women's basketball team and UConn Huskies.

In 2014, Hudson sold her home to the Town of Simsbury to enable her waterfront property to be transformed into a riverfront park for town residents. She relocated to Evergreen Woods Assisted Living, where she passed away on October 9, 2016.

Extent

16.25 cubic feet

Abstract

This collection is comprised of papers relating to Betty Hudson's career as a local and state politician and a human services employee, as well as her personal views on feminist and social issues such as gender titles, sexual assault, domestic violence, child support, gay rights, disabled rights, and equal rights. The collection contains personal and political papers, bill files, campaign files, clippings, editorials, correspondence, photographs, publications, and artifacts.

Arrangement

Series 1. Personal and Political Papers, 1961-2006, undated

Series 2. Legislative Records, 1969-1993, undated

Series 3. Constituent Services Files, 1973-1990, undated

Series 4. Press Files, 1962-2006, undated

Series 5. Publications, 1976-1987

Series 6. Photographs, 1971-2004, undated

Series 7. Audiovisual, 2006

Series 8. Artifacts, circa 1970s-1990, undated

Restricted, 1961-1984, undated

Provenance

These papers were donated by Betty Hudson to the Connecticut State Library on December 19, 2014.

Bibliography

Articles
Roessner, B. T. "Former State Senator Continues Her Crusades From Governor's Office," The Hartford Courant, November 11, 1979, p. 37.
Books
Love, B. J. Feminists Who Changed America, 1963-1975, Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 2006.
Websites
The Hartford Courant. Hudson, Betty: Obituary
The New Haven Register. Hudson, Donald and Doreen: Obituary
  • Roessner, B. T. "Former State Senator Continues Her Crusades From Governor's Office," The Hartford Courant, November 11, 1979, p. 37.
  • Love, B. J. Feminists Who Changed America, 1963-1975, Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 2006.

Processing Information

Sarah Morin processed these papers from July-September 2019.
Title
RG 069:175, Betty Hudson Papers
Subtitle
Inventory
Author
Finding aid prepared by Sarah Morin and Allen Ramsey.
Date
2019
Language of description
Undetermined
Script of description
Code for undetermined script

Repository Details

Part of the Connecticut State Library Repository

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