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First Woman of Color in Congress: A Resource Guide for the Patsy T. Mink Papers

This guide provides context for a selection of digitized materials from the Patsy T. Mink Papers in the Manuscript Division and includes related resources for researching Mink’s life and legacy.


Photographer unknown. Patsy T. Mink, official House of Representatives head-and-shoulders portrait, facing front, circa 1994. Visual materials from the Patsy T. Mink Papers, Library of Congress Prints & Photographs Division.

Congresswoman Patsy T. Mink (1927-2002) was a vigorous and tireless champion of women's rights, an early and vocal opponent to the Vietnam War, and a leader on issues involving education, the environment, welfare, and civil rights. With her election in 1964, Mink became the first woman of color and the first Asian American woman to serve in Congress. She represented the people of Hawaii during two periods, the first from 1965 to 1977 and again from 1990 until her death in 2002. In between, she served in the Jimmy Carter administration as an assistant secretary of state for oceans and international, environmental, and scientific affairs (1977-78), was president of Americans for Democratic Action (1978-81), served on the Honolulu City Council (1983-87), maintained a private law practice (1987-90), and founded the Public Reporter (1989-91), an organization that monitored and publicized the activities of the Hawaii state legislature. She is best remembered for her role in helping to secure passage of Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 and its companion legislation, the 1974 Women’s Educational Equity Act (WEEA). In 2007, the Manuscript Division celebrated the completion of a 3.5-year project to process Mink's rich and voluminous papers, which had been donated to the Library in 2003 by her husband and daughter. A copy of the extensive finding aid is available for the collection.

This guide provides context for a selection of digitized materials from the Patsy T. Mink Papers, suggested related materials, and links to selected external resources pertaining to the Patsy T. Mink Papers and to Patsy T. Mink's life and legacy. For specific questions or assistance using the Library’s resources, use the Ask a Librarian service to contact a reference librarian.