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Maxine E. Baker Papers

 Collection
Identifier: Ms 198

Scope and Content

The Baker collection follows her political career and the history of South Florida politics, sometimes referring to national issues, but especially focusing on the reapportionment movement of the 1960s and the rise of women in the Florida Legislature. Contents consist largely of newspaper clippings that were arranged by Baker as a timeline of her career and of South Florida politics in general. The collection is divided into several sections. Papers relating to her service with the Florida League of Women Voters cover her career prior to her election to the Legislature.

Her campaign notebooks cover the years from 1963-1971. They open with the 1963 primary election in Dade County, which was the first election after the reapportionment movement. Under reapportionment, Dade County's representation in the Florida House increased from two seats to sixteen and 231 candidates submitted their names to run for fourteen offices. Baker collected many editorials and a few political cartoons dealing with this complicated election. The rise of women in the Florida Legislature is also covered throughout this section. Many newspaper articles and editorials profile Florida's congresswomen. Minorities and their role in Florida politics are also covered.

Baker's legislative notebooks cover the years 1963-1967. Newspaper articles about her career are organized according to her terms in office. Articles focus on Baker's views on various issues including, Congressional redistricting, the Dade County Home Rule Bill, and child welfare and public health in Florida. Her involvement with the revision of the Florida Constitution is also covered in this section.

Baker's press book (1937-1963) chronicles her time in the Florida League of Women Voters and the beginning of her campaign for office. Remaining files consist of newspaper clippings, photographs, and papers related to legislative bills.

Dates

  • 1934-1974

Creator

Access

The collection is open for research.

Biographical/Historical Note

Maxine R. Eldridge was born on July 26, 1898 in Berwyn, Maryland. She received her bachelor's degree from Radcliffe College in 1920. It was while attending college in Cambridge that she met Harvard student John A. Baker. They married, spent several years in his home town of Buffalo, New York, and moved to Miami, Florida in 1924. Even while starting a family of three children, she became involved in civic organizations and organizations involving her children. After all of her children had graduated from high school and were in college, she turned most of her energy toward local and state volunteer service.

Baker served as president of the Miami chapter of the League of Women Voters (1945-1947), then as president of the state League of Women Voters (1947-1949), and as state legislative chair for the organization in 1951. Her experience with the League paved the way for her successful election to the Florida House of Representatives (1963-1972) as a representative for Dade County. Maxine E. Baker's political career spanned the turbulent 1960s and early 1970s. While in office she championed the following issues: Florida Mental Health Act, Florida Land and Water Management Act of 1972, and the Dade County Home Rule Bill. In recognition of these accomplishments, Baker was named one of "Six Outstanding Women of 1963" by the Miami News (1965) and received the "Community Headliner Award" of Theta Sigma Phi (1965) and the "Public Service Award" from the Democratic Women's Club of Dade County. The Florida Mental Health Act (also known as the "Baker Act") is considered by many to be her greatest success, and took over seven years in session to fully establish and complete. During Baker's time in and out of office she broke the boundaries that were set before her. She was one of the first two women from Dade County to win office in the Florida Legislature.

After her retirement from the Florida House and the death of her husband in 1975 she moved to Brevard, North Carolina, and later back to Orange City, Florida, where she died on January 28, 1994 at the age of 94.

Sources: Tebeau, Charlton W. A History of Florida, University of Miami Press: Miami, 1971; Gannon, Michael (ed.). The New History of Florida, University Press of Florida: Gainesville, 1996; Morris, Allen. The Florida Handbook, 1967-1968, The Peninsular Publishing Company: Tallahassee, 1967. And, information supplied by Grover E. Baker.

Extent

2.5 Linear feet (5 boxes)

Language of Materials

English

Abstract

Political and organizational papers of Maxine E. Baker during the years from 1934-1974.

Physical Location

University of Florida Smathers Library Building

Acquisition Information

This collection was donated by Grover E. Baker.

Related Material

For related materials at UF see also the Florida League of Women Voters collection, 1939-1977, the Election Returns by County collection, 1960-1972, and the materials pertaining to reapportionment (1965-1967) in the Manning J. Dauer Papers.

Title
A Guide to the Maxine E. Baker Papers
Status
Completed
Author
Finding aid created by Ian H. Baldwin
Date
July 2006
Description rules
Finding Aid Prepared Using Dacs
Language of description
English
Script of description
Latin
Language of description note
Description is written in English.

Repository Details

Part of the Special and Area Studies Collections, George A. Smathers Libraries, University of Florida Repository

Contact:
George A. Smathers Libraries
PO Box 117005
Gainesville Florida 32611-7005 United States of America
352-273-2755