Dorothy Howell Rodham

Dorothy Howell Rodham
Dorothy H. Rodham

January 2009
Born Dorothy Emma Howell
June 4, 1919(1919-06-04)
Chicago, Illinois, United States
Died November 1, 2011(2011-11-01) (aged 92)
Washington, D.C., United States
Known for Mother of Hillary Rodham Clinton
Religion United Methodism
Spouse Hugh E. Rodham
Children Hillary, Hugh, Tony

Dorothy Emma Howell Rodham (June 4, 1919 – November 1, 2011)[1][2][3] was an American homemaker and mother of U.S. Secretary of State, and former U.S. Senator and First Lady, Hillary Rodham Clinton.


Dorothy Howell was born in Chicago, Illinois, the daughter of Edwin John Howell, Jr. (1897–1946), a Chicago firefighter,[4] and Della Murray (1902–1960).[5][6] Her sister is Isabelle Howell (born 1924).[4]

Dorothy's childhood has been described as Dickensian.[6][7] The family lived as boarders in a crowded house.[6] The parents were dysfunctional and unhappy[8] and prone to sometimes violent fights;[6] they moved Dorothy amongst various schools,[3] and paid only sporadic attention to the children before divorcing in 1927.[4] The children were then sent on a train by themselves, unsupervised (Dorothy was eight, Isabelle younger), to live with their paternal grandparents in the Los Angeles suburb of Alhambra, California.[3][8][9] The sisters endured harsh treatment from their grandparents and Dorothy left home at age 14 at the height of the Great Depression, working as a $3-per-week housekeeper, cook, and nanny in San Gabriel, California.[6][8] Encouraged by her employer to read and go to school, Dorothy attended Alhambra High School, where she joined several clubs and benefited from two teachers.[6] After graduating from there in 1937,[10] she moved to Chicago for a failed reunion with her mother,[4][8] who by then had gotten married to Max Rosenberg.[11] Subsequently, she moved into her own apartment there and took office jobs to support herself.[3][4] She later said, "I’d hoped so hard that my mother would love me that I had to take the chance and find out. When she didn’t, I had nowhere else to go."[6] Hillary Clinton later attributed her interest in children's welfare to her mother's life as well as her belief that caring adults outside of family can fill a child's emotional voids.[6]

While applying for a job as a clerk typist at a textile company, she met traveling salesman Hugh Ellsworth Rodham,[4] eight years her senior, in 1937.[12] After a lengthy courtship, they married in early 1942.[4] She became a full-time homemaker, raising three children, Hillary, Hugh and Tony, in suburban Park Ridge, Illinois. She encouraged Hillary to have a love for learning and to pursue an education and a career, though she had never done so herself.[8] In contrast to her husband's staunch Republican views,[13] Dorothy Rodham was, as her daughter later wrote, "basically a Democrat, although she kept it quiet in Republican Park Ridge."[4]

In 1987, Rodham and her husband moved to Little Rock, Arkansas, to be closer to their daughter and granddaughter, Chelsea.[11] An excellent student as a youth, Rodham now took college courses in subjects such as psychology, logic, and child development, although she never graduated.[4][11] Her daughter later wrote, "I'm still amazed at how my mother emerged from her lonely early life as such an affectionate and levelheaded woman."[3]

At Hillary Rodham Clinton's swearing in as U.S. Secretary of State in January 2009

Hugh Rodham died in 1993. Dorothy Rodham remained active but valued her privacy and almost never spoke to the media,[8] although she appeared on The Oprah Winfrey Show in 2004.[14] In 2006, she moved into the Clintons' large Whitehaven house in the Kalorama neighborhood of Washington, D.C.[8][14][15]

Starting in December 2007 she made a rare public appearance in Iowa and other early primary states to campaign for her daughter's presidential nomination bid.[3][16] She appeared at some events concerning women's issues and also appeared in a Clinton campaign television advertisement.[3][17]

Dorothy Rodham died on November 1, 2011, in Washington, D.C., with Secretary Clinton cancelling a foreign trip in order to be by her side.[3]


  1. ^ 1920 Cook Co., IL, U.S. Federal Census, Chicago, 2956 Michigan Ave., Jan. 8 & 9, Enumeration Dist. 66, sheet 4 A, page 73 A, line 34, Dorothy Howell, 7 mons. old.
  2. ^ In Hillary Rodham Clinton's June 3, 2008, campaign appearance in New York City following the final primaries of her presidential campaign, she said her mother would be turning 89 the following day.
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h "Dorothy Rodham, mother of Hillary Clinton, dies at 92". Chicago Tribune. 1 November 2011.,0,3403284.story. Retrieved 1 November 2011. 
  4. ^ a b c d e f g h i Hillary Rodham Clinton, Living History, Simon & Schuster, 2003, ISBN 0-7432-2224-5, pp. 2–11.
  5. ^ William Addams Reitwiesner, "The Ancestors of Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton", Accessed July 8, 2007.
  6. ^ a b c d e f g h McFadden, Robert D. (November 1, 2011). "Dorothy Rodham, Mother and Mentor Of Hillary Clinton, Is Dead at 92". The New York Times. 
  7. ^ Brian Williams (November 1, 2011). NBC Nightly News. 
  8. ^ a b c d e f g Anne E. Kornblut (2007-09-23). "A Mother's Strength, a Candidate's Ambition". Washington Post. Retrieved 2007-12-14. 
  9. ^ 1930 Los Angeles Co., CA, U.S. Federal Census, San Gabriel Township, Alhambra City, 320 E. Park St., April 4, Enumeration Dist. 1406, sheet 5 B, page 108 B, line 57.
  10. ^ Alhambra High School Yearbook, The Alhambran, 1937.
  11. ^ a b c Bernstein, Carl (2007). A Woman in Charge: The Life of Hillary Rodham Clinton. New York: Knopf. pp. 14, 23–25. ISBN 0-3754-0766-9. 
  12. ^ "Reader Q&A", The Times-Tribune, June 19, 2007. Accessed July 12, 2007.
  13. ^ Brock, David (1996). The Seduction of Hillary Rodham. The Free Press. ISBN 0-684-83451-0.  p. 5.
  14. ^ a b Danny Hakim (October 11, 2006). "New Resident at Clinton Home, And She Has a Familiar Name". The New York Times. Retrieved March 28, 2010. 
  15. ^ Gerth, Jeff; Don Van Natta, Jr. (2007). Her Way: The Hopes and Ambitions of Hillary Rodham Clinton. New York: Little, Brown and Company. ISBN 0-316-01742-6. , p. 221.
  16. ^ Michael McAuliff (2007-12-09). "Chelsea Clinton and Hillary's mom join the campaign in Iowa". New York Daily News. Retrieved 2007-12-09. 
  17. ^ Kate Phillips (2007-12-13). "Clinton Ad: Dorothy Speaks". The New York Times. Retrieved 2007-12-13. 

External links

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