The way it was: Helen Petersdorf -- 1934

Jul 14, 2014 Staff

One of Fremont County's major political figures of the middle 20th century was Helen Petersdorf. She held an office that no longer exists -- Fremont County Superintendent of Schools.

Every county had an elected superintendent from statehood in 1890 until statewide school reorganization did away with the posts in the 1960s.

Petersdorf -- whose sister, Martha, was a prominent Fremont County nurse -- is shown in this campaign advertisement as she sought re-election in 1934, when she was 44 years old. She was completing her first two-year-term, having defeated incumbent Mary Lee in 1932. Remarkably, at the time she was seeking re-election, Fremont County had 56 separate school districts.

County superintendent was a non-partisan office, and Petersdorf was opposed in 1934 in both the primary and general elections again by Mary E. Lee. Petersdorf, who lived in Riverton with her sister in a prominent house at 202 North Broadway, also had strong Lander ties, having been the admitting educator when the Wyoming State Training School opened in 1912.

She defeated Lee, of Lander, handily in both the primary and the general elections. Fremont County voters liked the idea; Petersdorf served 13 terms as county superintendent, retiring in 1958.

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