Preserving "A Fair Chance For a Free People" - Karl E. Mundt

Mary Mundt

Mary's Life


Mary Elizabeth Moses Mundt grew up in Northfield, MN. She was the third of three surviving children. Her two older brothers served in France in WWI. Her parents were separated for much of her life and therefore she was close to her mother. Mary was also close to her two brothers and wrote many letters to them throughout her life. 1

Mary excelled in school. She attended, and then graduated from, Carleton College. She was a very respected and popular student among her teachers and among the other students. "In the Carleton College yearbook, Algol 1923, Mary Mundt is listed in the 'Hall of Fame'. Under her picture it reads: "Mary, Mary, there's not a man on this campus, not a woman either, that could remain stony hearted at your sunny smile. You're the kind that improves with acquaintance and keeps on improving." 1

Mary was also a soft-hearted and compassionate person who loved animals. The Mundt's had an assortment of cats and dogs, instead of children, that traveled with them to and from Washington DC. 1

Mary's Life

Mary met Karl in the summer of 1922. They were married on June 24, 1924. After their wedding, they moved to New York and attended Columbia University in New York where Mary obtained a Master's Degree in English. They then returned to South Dakota and, two years later, were both employed at Eastern State Normal School which later became Dakota State University. 1

When Karl Mundt was elected to the House of Representatives in 1936, Mary moved with him to Washington, DC. There, she did much to help and further his political career.1

Political Contributions

Mary's Life

Mary Mundt was very active politically and socially in Washington DC. She chose to stay in the background much of the time, but she was still a respected and sought-after author and speaker. She spoke frequently to women's groups and she contributed regularly to THE REPUBLICAN with "This Month in Washington". She wrote humorous articles such as "Pity the Congressman's Wife" and serious articles such as "Washington --City of Contradictions". She also authored articles about Communism such as "Behind the Slat Door", "Push Button Government", and "Our Invisible Government". 1

Mary also worked behind the scenes as well. She often advised Karl on his votes. She also spoke with other politicians such as the time when she spoke with her dinner companion, Arthur E. Summerfield, who was the Postmaster General and a good friend of the director of the Budget Bureau, and persuaded him to persuade the Budget Bureau to fund the Oahe Dam project in Pierre, SD. 1

Mary's LifeMary was also an excellent cook and hostess. She also often acted as a tour guide to South Dakotans who visited Washington DC. She assisted her husband with his career; often, when Karl was unable to attend committee or legislative session, Mary would go instead to take notes. She understood the workings of government and helped keep Karl informed of all the governmental happenings. 1

  1. Phillips, Margaret. Mary Moses Mundt. Madison, SD: Madison Instant Printing, 1989.
  2. Mary Mundt. Mundt Archives, Madison, SD. Card #69-761
  3. Marriage. 1924. Mundt Archives, Madison, SD. Card #86
  4. Heidepriem, Scott. A Fair Chance for a Free People. Madison, SD: Leader Printing Company, 1988.
  5. Karl and Mary Sitting. Mundt Archives, Madison, SD
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