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Dudley Dudley becomes ninth woman featured on State House walls

  • After languishing for more than a year, the portrait of Dudley Dudley, the first woman ever to serve on the state’s five-member Executive Council was hung Friday morning along the second story corridor, right next to the entrance way to the council office and chamber. By Paul Steinhauser—

  • After languishing for more than a year, the portrait of Dudley Dudley, the first woman ever to serve on the state’s five-member Executive Council was hung Friday morning along the second story corridor, right next to the entrance way to the council office and chamber. By Paul Steinhauser—



For the Monitor
Friday, April 13, 2018

Along a second story corridor, past a long line of men with bearded faces, the picture of a young blond woman now hangs on the State House walls, right next to the entrance to the Executive Council chambers.

After languishing for more than a year, the portrait of Dudley Dudley – the first woman ever to serve on the state’s five-member Executive Council – was hung Friday morning. Neatly trimmed by its gold frame, it’s the ninth portrait of a woman in the State House compared to about 200 paintings of men. 

“I’m hoping that the little girls who are touring the State House will see it and say ‘Oh, a woman can serve in the State House,’” the 81-year old Dudley said. 

The longtime liberal activist and state representative from Durham, starting in 1977, served eight years on the council, which acts likes an elected board of directors, voting on state contracts and gubernatorial nominations.

“Of course since I was there, we’ve had other women who have been governor’s councilors, and women who’ve been governors and now senators. So we’re on a roll,” she said.

Executive Councilor Andru Volinsky of Concord, who helped speed up the process of getting the portrait hung at the State House, said “I’m pleased that we’re recognizing this breaker of barriers and I hope it serves and an incentive to bring more women, young people, and diversity to political office in New Hampshire.

Executive councilor Chris Pappas of Manchester wrote on Twitter that he “can’t wait to see fourth grade girls & boys stopping here on their tours to learn about Dudley. Hers is a story worth repeating!”

Gov. Chris Sununu described the hanging of the portrait as a “historic day.”

New Hampshire Democratic Party Chairman Ray Buckley and state Rep. Renny Cushing of Hampton first floated the idea of honoring Dudley.

The portrait was approved in 2016 by Democratic Gov. Maggie Hassan,  now a U.S. senator. The painting was unveiled in the council chambers in December of 2016.

But Dudley asked that “some adjustments” be made to the portrait.

Last month, the council voted unanimously to have the painting hung, but the decision on where it would be displayed was made by the New Hampshire Division of Historical Resources.

“I’m happy that it has been hung,” Dudley said.