The youngest woman ever elected to Congress at age 32, Elizabeth Holtzman focused her political career on human rights. Holtzman became involved with the civil rights movement while in school, doing civil rights work in Georgia and helping found the Law Students Civil Rights Research Council before graduating Harvard Law School in 1965. She worked in private practice in New York before successfully running for Congress in 1972, beating the fifty-year incumbent, Emanuel Celler. While in office, she participated in the Watergate hearings and investigated the immigration of Nazi war criminals to the US, writing the Holtzman Amendment to advocate for their deportation. She increased benefits for the poor and the elderly and helped stop sex discrimination in federally funded employment programs. After an unsuccessful Senate bid in 1980, she was elected the first woman district attorney for New York in 1981 and then became comptroller in 1990, building low-cost housing and increasing access to breast cancer screenings and immunization programs. After another failed Senate race, she returned to private practice in 1994. She then served on the American Jewish Commission on the Holocaust, and in 1999 was appointed by President Clinton to the Interagency Working Group to declassify secret files on Nazi war criminals.
How to cite this page
Jewish Women's Archive. "Elizabeth Holtzman." (Viewed on December 7, 2016) <https://jwa.org/people/holtzman-elizabeth>.