She attended Monticello Seminary, in Godfrey, Ill. (1899 - 1901), and the University of Nebraska (1901 - 1903).
She served as her father's secretary in 1908, during his third race for the United States presidency. In 1910 Ruth Bryan married Major Reginald Altham Owen of the Royal (British) Engineers and renounced her American citizenship. Major Owen served for three years in Jamaica and a year in England before World War I began; during that period they had a son. While her husband served in the Egypt-Palestine theater, Ruth Owen worked for thirteen months with Mrs. Herbert Hoover as secretary-treasurer of the American Woman's War Relief Fund in London, which operated workrooms for unemployed women and a war hospital in Devonshire. In 1915 she began a three-year tour of duty in Cairo as an operating room nurse with a voluntary group attached to the British army. At the end of the war she returned to the United States, where her last child was born in 1920. Her husband's fortune gone and his health wrecked by nephritis acquired at Gallipoli, Ruth Owen began lecturing on the Chautauqua and Lyceum circuits on antiwar themes. Later she reacquired American citizenship and became the director of many civic, church, and educational organizations in Florida, taught public speaking at the University of Miami, and was vice-president of the school's board of regents from 1926 to 1929. She also wrote a book on public speaking that was published in 1931. In 1926 Owen ran for Congress, from Florida's Fourth District, but lost by fewer than 800 votes. In 1928, shortly after her husband's death, she won both the primary and the election handily, becoming the first congresswoman from the Deep South and one of nine women elected to the Seventy-first Congress. In 1929 she became the first woman assigned to the House Committee on Foreign Affairs. Although like all representatives she sought to benefit her state (she introduced a bill to create a national park in the Everglades), she also sponsored legislation to provide for equal treatment of women and men on questions of nationality, to fund the expenses of United States delegates to international conferences on disarmament and child welfare, and to establish a cabinet-level Department of Home and Child. One of the greatest departures she made from her father's principles was to vote in favor of the protectionist Smoot-Hawley tariff. A "dry" on prohibition, during the Seventy-second Congress (1931 - 1933) she nonetheless asked for a state referendum on the question, and when her district voted "wet, " she voted to repeal the Eighteenth Amendment. She lost her seat to a challenger who had avoided the issue. Fairly tall, well proportioned, and prematurely gray, Owen had a ready smile and a great zest for life. Her forte was her interest in people, whom she characteristically weighed according to their merits. In April 1933 President Franklin D. Roosevelt nominated her as envoy extraordinary and minister plenipotentiary to Denmark and Iceland. The Senate unanimously confirmed her appointment, and she became the first woman to hold a diplomatic post in the United States Foreign Service. In Denmark she broke another tradition by becoming the first woman to attend the king's New Year's levee, in 1934. She was soon helping the Danish prime minister improve his English while he taught her Danish. Owen was flexible and innovative in her family relationships; her son Reginald recalled that at the age of seventeen he began calling her Ruth to indicate friendship rather than a mother-son relationship. When she visited Greenland, the Eskimos there named her Inunguak, meaning "dear real human being, " and in 1935 she published Leaves From a Greenland Diary. Over the next four years she produced three other children's books. In July 1936 Ruth Owen married Borge Rohde of the Danish Royal Guards and automatically became a Danish citizen. To avoid potential difficulties arising from her dual citizenship, she decided to retire from the Foreign Service, and spent the rest of the year campaigning for the reelection of Roosevelt. In 1939 she became a visiting professor at Monticello College while her husband served overseas with the United States Coast Artillery. Look Forward, Warrior, in which she presented a plan for a United Nations of the World based largely upon the Constitution of the United States, was published in 1943. In 1949, as an alternate United States representative to the United Nations, Ruth Rohde served as chairman of the executive committee of the Speakers Research Committee. She died in Copenhagen, where she had gone to receive a Distinguished Service Medal from King Frederick IX
Distinguished Service Medal from King Frederick IX
Her forte was her interest in people, whom she characteristically weighed according to their merits.
Owen was flexible and innovative in her family relationships; her son Reginald recalled that at the age of seventeen he began calling her Ruth to indicate friendship rather than a mother-son relationship. When she visited Greenland, the Eskimos there named her Inunguak, meaning "dear real human being, " and in 1935 she published Leaves From a Greenland Diary.
In 1903 she married Homer Leavitt, an artist; they had two children before divorcing in 1909.
In 1910 Ruth Bryan married Major Reginald Altham Owen of the Royal (British) Engineers and renounced her American citizenship. He died In 1928.
In July 1936 Ruth Owen married Borge Rohde of the Danish Royal Guards and automatically became a Danish citizen.