Helen Eugenie Anderson: Diplomat

Eugenie Anderson, left, Ambassador to Denmark (1949-1953) © AP image

Eugenie Anderson, left, Ambassador to Denmark (1949-1953) © AP image

Name
ANDERSON, Helen Eugenie Moore
Role/Rank
Ambassador
Birth
May 26, 1909
Death
March 31, 1997
Recognition/Achievement
First woman to hold the rank of Ambassador

Biography

A trip to Europe in 1937 sparked Eugenie Moore Anderson’s interest in international affairs. When she returned, she joined the League of Women Voters, poured her energy into Democratic Party politics in Minnesota, and became an early supporter of the United Nations.

President Harry Truman appointed Anderson as U.S. Ambassador to Denmark in 1949. She quickly endeared herself to the Danish people by learning their language and traveling throughout the country. In 1951, she helped to negotiate an agreement that allowed the United States to use air bases in Greenland. She also helped to draft a new Treaty of Commerce and Friendship with Denmark, and then became the first American women to sign a treaty. In 1962, President John F. Kennedy named her minister to Bulgaria, making her the first female chief of a U.S. diplomatic mission behind the Iron Curtain. She skillfully negotiated a settlement of U.S. financial claims still outstanding from World War II. In Sofia, she defied the Bulgarian police by handing out literature about the United States at a local fair.

Beginning in 1965, Anderson served as a member of the U.S. delegation to the United Nations and became the first woman to sit on the Security Council.

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