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THE BIOGRAPHICAL DICTIONARY OF IOWA

University of Iowa Press Digital Editions
Anderson, Eugenie Moore
(May 26, 1909–March 31, 1997)

–the first American woman to hold the rank of U.S. ambassador—was born in Adair, Iowa, the daughter of the Reverend Ezekiel Arrow-smith Moore, a Methodist minister, and Flora Belle (McMillen) Moore. Anderson graduated from high school in Clarinda, Iowa, in 1925. A piano student from the time she was five years old, Anderson continued her studies at Stephens College in Missouri, Simpson College in Iowa, and Carleton College in Minnesota, with the goal of becoming a concert pianist. While attending Carleton, she met John Pierce Anderson, whom she married in 1930. John Anderson was the son of the inventor of puffed rice and puffed wheat. His financial legacy permitted Eugenie and John to study in New York. Eugenie attended the Juilliard School on a scholarship, and John continued his art studies. The couple moved to Red Wing, Minnesota, in 1932, where they lived on John's family farm and continued their respective studies in music and art. They had two children, Hans and Johanna.

    A trip to Europe in 1937 exposed Anderson to what she called "a totalitarian state in action" and prompted her to speak on foreign affairs on behalf of the League of Women Voters. Concerned about the isolationist views of the incumbent Republican congressman representing her district, she became involved in Democratic politics in 1944, at least in part in an unsuccessful effort to replace him. That year, she attended her first Democratic Party precinct caucus. She worked with Hubert H. Humphrey to remove Communists from the Democratic state party organization and to bring about the Democratic-farmer-Labor fusion in 1944. She also helped organize the Minnesota chapter of Americans for Democratic Action. In 1948 she became Democratic National Committeewoman for Minnesota and attended the party's national convention as a delegate-at-large.

    While unknown outside of Minnesota, Anderson gained national party leaders' attention in 1948 for her work to help reelect President Harry Truman. As part of a larger party effort to appoint women to federal positions, Truman appointed her ambassador to Denmark in 1949.

    Anderson made a lasting favorable impression shortly after arriving in Denmark when she held a reception for the carpenters, painters, and other workers who had remodeled the official residence. She also built goodwill by taking Danish lessons, traveling in the country, and speaking to a wide range of groups. As the official representative of the United States, Anderson was the first American woman to sign a treaty with another nation. The 1951 agreement provided for the joint defense of Greenland, which at the time was a part of Denmark. King Frederik IX awarded her the Grand Cross of Dannenborg, the nation's highest honor. She was the first nonroyal woman to receive it. Anderson resigned from the post in 1953. Over the next decade, she lectured in Western Europe, India, and the United States, both as a private citizen and as a representative of various governmental bodies.

    In 1962 President John F. Kennedy appointed Anderson head of the American delegation to Bulgaria, then a Communist nation. Her experience in Bulgaria was less amicable than in Denmark. The Bulgarian government organized a rock-throwing demonstration against the legation and interfered with aides attempting to distribute literature at a fair, which led Anderson to distribute pamphlets herself. She resigned from the post in 1964.

    Almost a decade of work with the United Nations followed. President Lyndon B. Johnson appointed her to represent the United States on the United Nations Trusteeship Council in 1965. She also served on the United Nations Committee for Decolonization, among other posts. In 1967 President Johnson sent her to Vietnam as an observer of the Revolutionary Development Program.

    Throughout her years on the international scene, Anderson remained active in the Democratic Party. She spoke at the 1952 Democratic National Convention and campaigned for presidential candidate Adlai Stevenson.

    The next year Anderson considered and rejected running for governor of Minnesota. Five years later she entered the Democratic and farmer-Labor primaries for the U.S. Senate. She lost the Democratic primary to Eugene McCarthy, who later won the general election.

    Anderson died at her home in Red Wing, Minnesota.
Sources Anderson's papers are housed at the Minnesota Historical Society, Minneapolis. See also Time, 10/24/1949, 25, and 2/6/1950, 18; Newsweek, 10/24/1949, 27; Saturday Evening Post, 5/5/1951, 30–34, 123–24; and New York Times, 10/13/1949 and 4/3/1997.
Contributor: Suzanne O'Dea

Cite as: O'Dea, Suzanne. "Anderson, Eugenie Moore" The Biographical Dictionary of Iowa. University of Iowa Press, 2009. Web. 12 December 2017