Hon. Helen Delich Bentley

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Former U.S. Representative from Maryland (1985-95), Helen Delich Bentley entered government service in the Nixon administration as Chairman of the Federal Maritime Commission. Helen Bentley grew up in the Nevada mining town of Ruth and attended the University of Missouri School of Journalism. Graduating in 1944, she took a position with the United Press, eventually landing in Baltimore as Maritime Editor for the Baltimore Sun. In this position she covered all forms of transportation and its labor relations activities. During this time she also produced local television news programs in Baltimore and Philadelphia dealing with trade and the two ports. In these she did profiles on more than 800 companies in the trade and shipping businesses. After writing some pieces for the Nixon Campaign she was recruited to be Chairman of the Federal Maritime Commission. She left office in 1975 to become a business consultant and, in 1984 was elected to Congress representing Baltimore and Harford counties, Maryland. She was re-elected four more times and, after 1995, returned to her international trade and business consulting practice.

About the Transcript

Helen Bentley describes in fine detail the struggles she overcame to achieve prominence as a journalist and public servant. She discusses the influence of her mother, who ran a boarding house in small Nevada mining towns, and her determination to strive for excellence and achieve success in fields where women were rarely seen. Her narrative takes us through her experiences as a journalist and she tells the story of her tenacious battle to secure appointment to the post of Chairman of the Federal Maritime Commission. Mrs. Bentley discusses in detail her work with Barbara Franklin and her relationships with women journalists and women in the Congress. Her reflections on the problems women faced, sometimes of their own making, is revealing; her attitudes towards her work and the pride in breaking barriers and opening the door for other women is evident. Her own election to Congress is another reflection of the qualities she regarded as essential to the success of women in government generally.


Listen to the interview.(HTML transcript)