Fifer-Bohrer Collection


Fifer-Bohrer Collection


Bohrer, Florence Fifer, 1877-1960
Female Politicians
Illinois. General Assembly. Senate
Women--Political activity
Women legislators--U.S. states
Women legislators
Political activists
Women political activists
Fifer, Joseph Wilson, 1840-1938


Florence Fifer Bohrer was born in Bloomington, Illinois, on January 24, 1877.  She was the daughter of Joseph W. Fifer, who later became the governor of Illinois, and Gertrude Lewis Fifer.  Florence was active in family and children’s causes, and she established the Mother’s Club (a precursor to the P.T.A.) and the Lucy Orme Morgan Home for dependent girls.  She also worked with the Booker T. Washington Home for Negro children and the McLean County Tuberculosis Association.  She lobbied for the establishment of Fairview Sanatorium, which was dedicated in Bloomington in 1919.

In 1924, after women’s suffrage was passed, Florence was encouraged to run for the State Senate.  She ran as a Republican and won, under the slogan “Law enforcement, Christian citizenship and reduction of taxes”.  Her bills included real estate tax payments in two installments, foster homes for welfare children, registration and standards for public health nurses, regulation of dance halls by county supervisors, control of state parks by the Department of Public Works and Buildings and the adoption of the state song, “Illinois”.  She was re-elected for a second term in 1929.

After her terms in legislative office ended she chaired the McLean County Emergency Relief Commission, which distributed aid during the Depression.  She also was the founder and president of the McLean County League of Women Voters, and continued to be a persistent lobbyist, working for permanent voter registration, the Act for Aid to Dependent Children and revised adoption laws.

A life-long Unitarian, Bohrer served as president of the board of her church and director of the American Unitarian Association. She received many awards and citations, including the Bloomington Community Service Award (1934), the Illinois Welfare Association Citation (1945) and the Distinguished Service Award from Southern Illinois University (1956).

The resource record for the Bohrer-Fifer Family Papers, 1861-1965 at the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library may be found at

Photographs in this collection include images of Florence Fifer Bohrer throughout her career in the Illinois Senate. There are also several images of her father, Governor Joseph Fifer, as a soldier during the Civil War and during and after his time as Illinois Governor. The resource record for the photographic material at the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library can be found at


Manuscripts: MS-BC64
Audiovisual: AV-01-06-010

Collection Items

Florence Fifer Bohrer
Florence Fifer Bohrer poses for a photograph wearing a long satin gown. Photo signature: "To my dear Florence who has achieved so much and kept her sweet soul. Filicite Oglesby; Cinci Bolognette; 19 November 1924 Oglehurst."

Florence Fifer Bohrer and Adlai Stevenson II
Florence Fifer Bohrer shakes Governor Adlai Stevenson II's hand at a reception.

Illinois League of Women Voters Officials
Officials of the League of Women Voters of Illinois pose for a group photograph. Florence Fifer Bohrer stands third from the left.

Florence Fifer Bohrer at Senate Swearing In with Family
Florence Fifer Bohrer shakes her mother, Gertrude Lewis Fifer's, hand after she was sworn into the Illinois Senate in 1925 as her daughter, Gertrude Bohrer, looks on.

Joseph Fifer
Joseph Fifer poses for a portrait. Fifer served as Illinois governor from 1889 through 1893.

Joseph W. Fifer and George Fifer
Brothers Joseph W. Fifer and George Fifer pose in their union army uniforms during the Civil War. Joseph and George Fifer served with the 33rd Illinois Infantry.

Joseph Fifer and Gertrude Fifer
Joseph and Gertrude Fifer sit outside as she reads a book to him.

Old Setters Picnic
Several unidentified men and women gather at two outdoor tables for a picnic. Joseph Fifer sits on the far right.On verso:"Old Settler's Picnic Miller Park; Sept 4th 1924."

General Assembly Members Visit Soldier's and Sailor's School
Members of the Illinois House of Representatives and Illinois Senate pose for a photograph during a visit to the Illinois Soldier's Orphan's Home (later known as the Illinois Soldiers' and Sailors' Children's School) in Normal. Joseph Fifer and…

Illinois Senate Reunion
Former members of the Illinois Senate, including Florence Fifer Bohrer, pose for a photograph during at 1953 reunion.

Young Florence Fifer Bohrer
A young Florence Fifer Bohrer sits for a photograph on a stone wall.

Florence Fifer Bohrer on Horseback
Florence Fifer Bohrer poses for the camera while riding a horse.

Florence Fifer Bohrer Walking Down Street
Florence Fifer Bohrer walks down a store-lined street in Hot Springs, Arkansas.

Senator Florence Fifer Bohrer
Senator Florence Fifer Bohrer poses for a portrait. On verso: "Senator Florence Fifer Bohrer; Bloomington, 26th district."
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