Medora Petersen Oral History
Medora Petersen was born in May 1896 in Meriden, Steele County, Minnesota. Her father’s family came from Pennsylvania to Minnesota in a covered wagon. For short time she was Minnesota’s first lady. Her husband, Hjalmar Petersen, was Minnesota lieutenant governor in 1936 when Governor. Floyd B. Olson died in office. Petersen served as Minnesota governor for five months to complete the term but did not run for re-election. Medora attended Iowa State University, where she was the first student to earn a graduate degree in early childhood development. After graduation, she taught at Ohio State University. She returned to Minnesota to work on a doctorate but met he future husband and became first lady before finishing her schooling. Medora and her husband published the Askov American until his death in 1968. She continued to write for the paper until she sold it in the 1980s. Medora died on April 7, 1997 in Willmar, Minnesota.
In an interview recorded August 13, 1973, Medora Petersen talked about her early life on a farm in Steele County. She took the train from Meriden to Owatonna for high school. She recounted how she met her husband at the University of Minnesota and reflected on his early political career as a legislator. Hjalmar Petersen was an admirer of Governor Floyd B. Olson. She discussed other notable politicians of the era including Minnesota Senators Henrik Shipstead, Elmer Benson and Frank B. Kellogg. She talked about the formation of the DFL party and Hjalmar’s unsuccessful 1958 primary run as a Democrat against Eugene McCarthy for US Senate.
St. Cloud State University, "Medora Petersen Oral History" (1973). Minnesota Legislators and Politics. 7.