Politician Teacher

Mary Risteau

Quick Facts

IntroAmerican politician
Was Politician
From United States of America
Type Academia
Birth24 April 1890
Death 24 July 1978
(aged 88 years)
Star signTaurus
PoliticsDemocratic Party
Johns Hopkins University
University of Baltimore
Maryland Women’s Hall of Fame 


Mary Eliza Watters Risteau (April 24, 1890 – July 24, 1978) was an American politician who was the first woman elected to both the Maryland House of Delegates and the Maryland State Senate.

Early Life

Risteau was born in Towson, Maryland on April 24, 1890. She graduated from Towson High School in 1907 and completed a special advanced course of study in Mathematics at Johns Hopkins University in 1917 before serving as a schoolteacher. In 1938, Risteau received her L.L.B. Degree from the University of Baltimore.

Political Career

In 1921, Risteau, a Democrat who at the time lived in Jarrettsville, became the first woman elected to the Maryland House of Delegates and served in four sessions, followed by an election to the State Senate in 1935. She served on several committees, including the Committee on Education and the Committee on Agriculture, during her time in the General Assembly, and she was a strong sponsor of women’s rights. Concurrent to her role as a legislator, she served as the first woman on the Maryland State Board of Education for 16 years. She was appointed to this position by Governor Albert Ritchie. Risteau was also a clerk of the Circuit Court for Harford County; she was appointed in 1938 and served for one year.

In 1951, she was elected one final time to the House of Delegates, where she served for another four years. She died on July 24, 1978, at the age of 88.