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Congressional Cemetery – The Boggs Family

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This is a guest post by Ann Hemmens, a senior legal reference librarian with the Law Library of Congress. Ann has contributed a number of posts to this blog, including posts on Free Public Access to Federal Materials on Guide to Law OnlineU.S. Supreme Court: Original Jurisdiction and Oral Arguments, and Domestic Violence: Resources in the United States

Three members of the politically active Boggs family have markers in the Congressional Cemetery: Thomas Hale Boggs Sr. (Hale Boggs), his son Thomas Hale Boggs Jr., and his daughter Mary Martha Corinne Morrison Claiborne Boggs Roberts (Cokie Roberts).

Thomas Hale Boggs Sr. was a member of the U.S. House of Representatives, representing Louisiana’s 2nd District, including New Orleans, during 14 congresses, spanning three decades between 1941 and 1972. His leadership roles included serving as Democratic Whip in five congresses and as Majority Leader in one congress.

In a 2009 interview with the Office of the Historian in the U.S. House of Representatives, Representative Bogg’s daughter, Cokie Roberts, discussed his decision to speak on behalf of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 during congressional debates on the bill (e.g., 111  Cong. Rec. 16,221- 22 (1965)). He also served on the Warren Commission.

Representative Boggs was presumed dead following the disappearance of a campaign flight from Anchorage to Juneau, Alaska, on October 16, 1972, that also included Representative Nicholas J. Begich from Alaska. A compilation of the memorial addresses and tributes for Representative Boggs that were delivered in Congress was published by the Government Publishing Office.

Representative Hale Boggs’s marker in the Congressional Cemetery is one of the 169 cenotaphs, which are geometrically shaped monuments, with a marble panel for inscription, erected to honor members of Congress who died while in office. The inscription for Representative Nicholas J. Begich is also on this cenotaph.

Cenotaph reads Honorable Thomas Hale Boggs 1914-1972 Representative of the state of Louisiana, 77, 80-92 congresses, Majority Whip, Majority Leader
Honorable Thomas Hale Boggs Cenotaph. Photo courtesy of Ann Hemmens.

Cokie Roberts was a journalist, congressional correspondent, and author. As one of the first female correspondents on National Public Radio, she covered politics and the U.S. Congress. She wrote several books, including Capital Dames: The Civil War and the Women of Washington, 1848-1868 (2015) and Ladies of Liberty: The Women Who Shaped Our Nation (2008). Oral history interviews with Cokie Roberts are included in the Century of Women in Congress project, which includes interviews with family members of women who served in Congress.

Front of headstone reads Mary Martha Corinne Morrison Claiborne Boggs Roberts, Dec. 27, 1943 - Sept. 17, 2019
Headstone of Cokie Roberts. Photo courtesy of Ann Hemmens.
Back of headstone of reads Beloved Cokie, Put on the jewels and take up the tools
Back of Cokie Roberts’ headstone. Photo courtesy of Ann Hemmens.














Representative Hale Boggs’s son, Thomas Hale Boggs Jr., was a lawyer and lobbyist in Washington, D.C., working for the firm now known as Squire Patton Boggs. He reportedly gave his sister the nickname Cokie. He served as an economist on the Joint Economic Committee of the U.S. Congress (1961-1965) and ran for a seat in the U.S. House of Representatives representing the 8th District in Maryland in 1970. At the Library, you can find this title he authored, Corporate Political Activity.

Gravestone of Thomas Hale Boggs Jr., Sept. 18, 1940 - Sept. 15, 2014. In loving memory.
Gravestone of Thomas Hale Boggs Jr. Photo courtesy of Ann Hemmens.

These three markers are near each other in the Congressional Cemetery.

All three Boggs family members’ grave markers. Photo courtesy of Ann Hemmens.

The Boggs family includes other members that were active in politics. Corinne Claiborne (Lindy) Boggs won a special election following the death of her husband Hale Boggs, and she served 18 years (1973-1991) in the U.S. House of Representatives. She published her memoir, Washington Through a Purple Veil: Memoirs of a Southern Woman (1994) and in 2002 she was honored by the U.S. Congress for her role in founding the Congressional Women’s Caucus, as described by members of the House and Senate. Barbara Boggs Sigmund, daughter of Hale and Lindy Boggs, served as mayor of Princeton, New Jersey, and ran for governor of New Jersey.

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