Maurine Brown Neuberger
Maurine Brown Neuberger was born on January 9, 1907 in Cloverdale, Oregon. Brown graduated from Bethel High School and earned her teaching certificate from Oregon College of Education in 1924. She went on to receive a bachelor of arts in English and physical education from University of Oregon in 1929.
She taught English in public school for twelve years. In 1945, she married Richard Neuberger, a journalist and eventual seat on the Oregon House of Representatives and Oregon Senate. Neuberger’s first foray into politics was helping her husband during his Democratic senate race in 1948. While helping her husband, Neuberger was inspired to start her own election journey for a position in the State House of Representatives. She won the election in 1950, and the Neubergers became the first married couple to simultaneously serve in both chambers of a state legislature.
While serving in the State House of Representatives, Neuberger was adamant about supporting various consumer rights and education reform – including the increased regulation of food coloring in margarine and increased implementation of special needs programs for students. Though Neuberger had initial hesitations about running for member of Congress, she decided to run after her husband died on March 10, 1960 before his bid for re-election. Neuberger ran for the Democratic nomination and secured both a temporary and full term, from November 9, 1961 to January 3, 1967.
While serving as a member of Congress, Neuberger continued to fight for consumer issues; she served on various committees including Agriculture and Forestry, Banking and Currency, and Commerce. She also sponsored legislation that supported equal pay between men and women.
On November 1, 1965, Neuberger announced that she would not seek re-election for her position, and instead went on to chair the Commission on the Status of Women, and to teach consumer affairs and the status of women at Boston University, Radcliffe Institute, and Reed College.
According to her obituary in The New York Times on February 24, 2000, “Mrs. Neuberger devoted much of her efforts to consumer issues. She sponsored one of the first bills to mandate health-warning labels on cigarette packages and wrote a book highly critical of the tobacco industry […] Mrs. Neuberger astonished Oregonians when she took on the powerful dairy industry and a state law, backed by dairy interests, that banned the sale of margarine with yellow coloring. Putting on an apron and using a mixing bowl, she showed her House colleagues, all men, how to color the pale butter substitute. After that, the ban was lifted.”
Maurine Brown Neuberger died on February 22, 2000 at a nursing home in Portland.