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Jane Briggs Hart

Jane Briggs Hart
Jane Briggs Hart.jpg
Jane Cameron Briggs

(1921-10-21)October 21, 1921
DiedJune 5, 2015(2015-06-05) (aged 93)
OccupationAviator, activist
Spouse(s)Philip A. Hart
(1943-1976, his death)
Parent(s)Walter O. Briggs

Jane "Janey" Briggs Hart (October 21, 1921 – June 5, 2015) was an honorable aviator. Hart earned her first pilot's license during World War II, and later became the first licensed female helicopter pilot in Michigan.[1]

In the early 1960s, Hart was chosen to participate in the Lovelace Foundation's Woman in Space Program, a privately funded project designed to test women pilots for astronaut fitness by subjecting them to the same physical tests developed by NASA for astronauts.[2] At the age of 40, Hart became one of only 13 women (later dubbed the Mercury 13) to qualify.[2]

In 2007, Hart was inducted into the Michigan Women's Hall of Fame.[3]

Early life

Hart was born in Detroit, Michigan, on October 21, 1921, to businessman Walter O. Briggs and Jane Cameron.[4] She attended the Academies of the Sacred Heart in Detroit, Grosse Pointe, Michigan, and Torresdale, Pennsylvania, and Manhattanville College in New York. In 1970,[5] at age 49, she received her BA in anthropology from George Washington University in Washington, D.C..[4]

On June 19, 1943, she married Philip Hart. The couple would go on to have nine children, one of whom died as a toddler.[2] In 1958 Philip Hart was elected to the United States Senate, where he served until 1976.[4]

Political career

Like her husband, Hart had an abiding interest in politics. She was active in her husband's political campaigns (including piloting him to campaign stops) and served as vice chairman of the Oakland County (Michigan) Democratic Committee.[2] She was a founding member of the National Organization for Women, and served as board member and national convention delegate for the Birmingham, Michigan League of Women Voters.[1]

While living in Washington, Hart gained a reputation as a non-conformist.[6] She was also active and vocal in her opposition to the Vietnam War, which was sometimes awkward for her husband, the Senator.[2] For example, in 1969 she was arrested in an antiwar demonstration at the Pentagon. In 1972, she announced her intention to stop paying federal income taxes, stating, "I cannot contribute one more dollar toward the purchase of more bombs and bullets".[7] Despite this, Senator Hart was unwavering in his support for his wife even though he did not agree with many of her decisions.[7]

Other activities

Hart was also an avid sailor and has sailed in the Port Huron to Mackinac Boat Race 15 times as part of an all-women crew.[3][8]

After her husband's death, Hart donated several boxes of scrapbooks, photographs and newspaper clippings of her life as a senator's wife and aviator to the University of Michigan's Bentley Historical Library.[9]


Hart died on June 5, 2015 in West Hartford, Connecticut from complications resulting from Alzheimer's disease, aged 93.[2]


  1. ^ a b Jane Briggs Hart collection, Bentley Library, University of Michigan
  2. ^ a b c d e f Weil, Martin (6 June 2015). "Jane B. Hart, strong-minded wife of senator, dies at 93". Washington Post. Retrieved 7 June 2015.
  3. ^ a b Michigan Women’s Hall of Fame
  4. ^ a b c "Jane Hart made mark as equal rights, anti-war activist". Detroit Retrieved June 7, 2015.
  5. ^ "In Memory of Jane Briggs Hart '43". Making Their Mark. 2015-11-04. Retrieved 2018-05-03.
  6. ^ Jane Hart, Mother of 8, Now In a Placid Period, Toledo Blade, December 22, 1968
  7. ^ a b Jane Hart Stops Paying Taxes, Ann Arbor News, May 22, 1972.
  8. ^ Born to Ride, Then to Fly: Mackinac Island’s Jane B. Hart, Mackinac Island Town Crier, December 11, 2010.
  9. ^ "Finding aid for Jane Briggs Hart papers, ca. 1925-1996". University of Michigan.

External links