Arvonne Fraser

Last updated

Arvonne Fraser
First Lady of Minneapolis
In office
January 1, 1980 December 31, 1993
Preceded byEmma Hofstede
Succeeded bySteven Belton
(as First Gentleman)
Personal details
Arvonne Skelton

(1925-09-01)September 1, 1925
Lamberton, Minnesota, U.S.
DiedAugust 7, 2018(2018-08-07) (aged 92)
Hudson, Wisconsin, U.S.
Nationality American
Spouse(s)Perry Morgan (m. 1946)
Donald M. Fraser (m. 1950)
Children6 (and seven grandchildren)
ParentsOrland Delbert
Phyllis Du Frene Skelton
Alma mater University of Minnesota
OccupationU.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women
Known forWomen's rights activist

Arvonne Skelton Fraser (September 1, 1925 – August 7, 2018) was an American women's rights advocate and political campaigner. [1] [2] She held the position of Senior Fellow at the Humphrey Institute of Public Affairs, University of Minnesota, and from 1993–1994 was the U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women. [1] [2] She also managed the political campaigns of her husband Donald M. Fraser during his career, from 1954 to 1979. [1]

University of Minnesota public research university in Minneapolis and Saint Paul, Minnesota, United States

The University of Minnesota, Twin Cities is a public research university in Minneapolis and Saint Paul, Minnesota. The Minneapolis and St. Paul campuses are approximately 3 miles (4.8 km) apart, and the St. Paul campus is actually in neighboring Falcon Heights. It is the oldest and largest campus within the University of Minnesota system and has the sixth-largest main campus student body in the United States, with 50,943 students in 2018-19. The university is the flagship institution of the University of Minnesota system, and is organized into 19 colleges and schools, with sister campuses in Crookston, Duluth, Morris, and Rochester.

United Nations Commission on the Status of Women functional commission of the United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC)

The Commission on the Status of Women is a functional commission of the United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC), one of the main UN organs within the United Nations. CSW has been described as the UN organ promoting gender equality and the empowerment of women. Every year, representatives of Member States gather at United Nations Headquarters in New York to evaluate progress on gender equality, identify challenges, set global standards and formulate concrete policies to promote gender equality and advancement of women worldwide. In April 2017, ECOSOC elected 13 new members to CSW for a four-year term 2018–2022. One of the new members is Saudi Arabia, which has been criticised for its treatment of women.

Donald M. Fraser American politician

Donald MacKay Fraser is an American politician from Minneapolis, Minnesota.


Early life

Fraser was born on September 1, 1925 in Lamberton, Minnesota, to parents Orland Delbert and Phyllis Dufrene Skelton. [2] She grew up on their family farm and attended Lamberton High School, graduating in 1943. [2] [3] In 1948, she received a bachelor of arts degree in liberal arts from the University of Minnesota. [2] While studying there, she had her first experience of working on a political campaign when she worked in the office of Hubert Humphrey’s U.S. Senate campaign. [3]

Lamberton, Minnesota City in Minnesota, United States

Lamberton is a town in Redwood County, Minnesota, United States. The population was 824 at the 2010 census.

Hubert Humphrey 38th Vice President of the United States

Hubert Horatio Humphrey Jr. was an American politician who served as the 38th vice president of the United States from 1965 to 1969. He twice served in the United States Senate, representing Minnesota from 1949 to 1964 and 1971 to 1978. He was the Democratic Party's nominee in the 1968 presidential election, losing to Republican nominee Richard Nixon.


Following graduation, Fraser began her career in Minnesota Democratic–Farmer–Labor Party (DFL) politics, editing the party newsletter and acting as secretary for the state chairperson. [4] [5] She became vice-chair of the party in 1956, a position she held until 1962. [2] [4] In 1960 Fraser was active in the Minnesotan Citizens for Kennedy campaign and co-chaired Arthur Naftalin's successful mayoral election campaign. [2] She served on the Minneapolis Board of Public Welfare from 1961 to 1963, and she became active in the women's rights movement, serving as national president of Women's Equity Action League from 1972 to 1974 and as the first director of the WEAL Fund Intern Program. [2] [3] [6]

Minnesota Democratic–Farmer–Labor Party Political party in Minnesota, United States

The Minnesota Democratic–Farmer–Labor Party (DFL) is a center-left political party in the U.S. state of Minnesota. It is affiliated with the U.S. Democratic Party. Formed by a merger of the Minnesota Democratic Party and the left-wing Minnesota Farmer–Labor Party in 1944, the DFL is one of only two state Democratic party affiliates of a different name.

Arthur Naftalin was an American political scientist and politician. A member of the Minnesota Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party (DFL), he served as mayor of Minneapolis from July 3, 1961, to July 6, 1969. He was the first Jewish mayor of Minneapolis.

The Women's Equity Action League, or WEAL, was a United States women's rights organization founded in 1968, during the feminist movement. The Women's Equity Action League was founded in Ohio and headquartered in Washington, D.C., as a "spin-off" of the National Organization for Women (NOW) by more conservative women wishing to avoid issues such as abortion, sexuality, and the Equal Rights Amendment, although it also worked with NOW in support of the ERA. WEAL focused instead on equal opportunities for women in education, economics, and employment. WEAL established a tax-exempt fund which supported lawsuits and monitored implementation and enforcement of Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, dealing with academic discrimination and economic equity. It also sought to remove gender as a factor in insurance ratings and lobbied for passage of the Pregnancy Discrimination Act of 1978. WEAL published WEAL Washington Report, Better Late than Never: Financial Aid for Older Women, and newsletters on issues of concern to women, including executive and legislative actions and court decisions. According to the Schlesinger Library, which holds the organization's records, "WEAL dissolved in 1989".

In 1976, Fraser led the Carter-Mondale presidential campaign in the Upper Midwest. After the election victory, she was appointed Counselor, Office of Presidential Personnel in the Jimmy Carter administration, and later served as director of the Office of Women in Development at the United States Agency for International Development from 1977 to 1981. She was a U.S. representative to the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women, and was a member of the U.S. delegations to the first two UN World Conferences on Women. [1] [7]

Jimmy Carter 39th president of the United States

James Earl Carter Jr. is an American politician and philanthropist who served as the 39th president of the United States from 1977 to 1981. A Democrat, he previously served as a Georgia State senator from 1963 to 1967 and as the 76th governor of Georgia from 1971 to 1975. Carter has remained active in public life during his post-presidency, and in 2002 he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for his work in co-founding the Carter Center.

The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) is an independent agency of the United States federal government that is primarily responsible for administering civilian foreign aid and development assistance. With a budget of over $27 billion, USAID is one of the largest official aid agencies in the world, and accounts for more than half of all U.S. foreign assistance—the highest in the world in absolute dollar terms.

Fraser was a senior fellow at the Humphrey Institute of Public Affairs, University of Minnesota, from 1982 to 1994. At the Humphrey Institute (now the Humphrey School), she directed the International Women's Rights Action Watch (IWRAW) and cofounded the school's Center on Women and Public Policy. [1] In June 1986, Fraser entered the campaign for Lieutenant Governor of Minnesota alongside George Latimer; [8] the pair lost the DFL primary. [1] [9] From 1993 to 1994, she served as U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women. [10]

George Latimer was the mayor of Saint Paul, Minnesota, the state's capital city, from 1976 until 1990. A member of the DFL and a labor lawyer by profession, the bearded Latimer was known for his redevelopment of St. Paul's downtown core, serving as mayor during a period when St. Paul's population was declining somewhat as some residents moved to suburban areas while the city's ethnic diversity increased as, among others, Hmong refugees from Vietnam and Laos resettled in Saint Paul.

Alongside her own career, Fraser ran the political campaigns of her husband, including for his elections to the Minnesota Senate (1954–1962), the U.S. House of Representatives (1963–1979) and the mayoralty of Minneapolis (1980–1993). Every campaign she managed for him resulted in a successful election outcome. [3]


In 1979, she received an Honorary Doctor of Laws from Macalester College. In 2007, she received the Outstanding Achievement Award from the University of Minnesota. In 1992, she received a Resourceful Woman Award for women's human rights from the Tides Foundation. In 1995, she received the Prominent Women in International Law Award, Women's Interest Group, American Society of International Law, becoming the first non-lawyer to receive this award. [2]

Fraser also received the Louis B. Sohn Human Rights Award from the U.N. Association, the Superior Honor Award from the U.S. Agency for International Development, and the Elizabeth Boyer Award from WEAL. [2] She received the Minneapolis YWCA’s Outstanding Achievement Award and the Minneapolis International Citizen Award. [11]

Personal life

She married Perry Morgan in 1946; they divorced in 1949. In 1950, she married Donald M. Fraser, and the couple had six children (Thomas, Mary, John, Lois, Anne, and Jean) and seven grandchildren. [1]

Fraser died on August 7, 2018 at her family retreat near the St. Croix River in Hudson, Wisconsin at the age of 92. [1]

Selected bibliography


Book chapters

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  1. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 Walsh, Paul (August 8, 2018). "Arvonne Fraser, who blazed her own trail as women's rights advocate, dies at 92". Star Tribune. Retrieved August 8, 2018.
  2. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 Weissbrodt, David (2009). Forsythe, David P., ed. Arvonne Fraser. Encyclopedia of Human Rights. 1. Oxford New York: Oxford University Press. pp. 266–269. ISBN   978-0-19-533402-9. Online version, subscription required.
  3. 1 2 3 4 Grossman, Mary Ann (October 27, 2007). "That's no lady, that's Arvonne!". Twin Cities. Retrieved August 8, 2018.
  4. 1 2 Lucas, Lydia; Palmquist, Bonnie; Ralston, Monica Manny; Peterson, David B., eds. (February 2015). "Collection finding aids: Avronne S. Fraser: an inventory of her papers at the Minnesota Historical Society". Minnesota Historical Society. Minnesota. Retrieved August 9, 2018.
  5. Goetzman, Amy (December 20, 2007). "Herstory: Arvonne Fraser reflects on a life of advocacy". MinnPost. Retrieved August 8, 2018.
  6. Rovner, Sandy (June 11, 1981). "Arvonne Fraser: Parting in Sweet &". The Washington Post. ISSN   0190-8286 . Retrieved August 8, 2018.
  7. "Statement from DFL Chairman Ken Martin on the Passing of Arvonne Fraser". The Minnesota DFL. August 8, 2018. Retrieved August 9, 2018.
  8. Meryhew, Richard (June 23, 1986). "Fraser family takes the latest candidacy in stride". Minneapolis Star and Tribune. p. 11A–12A. Retrieved August 9, 2018.
  9. Grow, Doug (July 7, 2014). "Don and Arvonne Fraser: Time and experience give extraordinary couple some perspective on issues and politics". MinnPost. Retrieved August 8, 2018.
  10. Forsythe, David P. (August 11, 2009). Encyclopedia of Human Rights. Oxford University Press. p. 266. ISBN   9780195334029. Retrieved April 13, 2012
  11. "Rapoport Center for Human Rights and Justice: Arvonne S. Fraser, Ambassador". The University of Texas School of Law . Retrieved August 8, 2018.
  12. Eslava, Luis (January 14, 2010). "Book Review: Developing Power: How Women Transformed International Development". Rochester, NY.