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UPI White House Bureau Chief

Honorary Doctor of Humane Letters



Background information is taken from University Archive document News Release from Washington, Helen Thomas, UPI White House Bureau Chief, date unknown. Miss Helen Thomas we born in Winchester, Kentucky and was reared in Detroit, Michigan where she attended public schools and later graduated from Wayne State University. She joined UPI in 1943 and the Washington press corps. For twelve years she wrote radio news for UPI and later had several beats around the Federal government, including the Justice Department and FBI and the Department of Health Education and Welfare. Miss Thomas began covering President-elect John F. Kennedy in November, 1960 and went to the White House in January 1961 as a member of the UPI team. During the years she covered President Kennedy, Miss Thomas was the first woman to close a Presidential news conference with the traditional "Thank you, Mr. President." Since then she has opened and closed many news conference in the ensuing presidencies. Miss Thomas served as President of the Women's National Press Club, now known as the Washington Press Club. She was the first woman officer of the National Press Club after it opened its doors to women members following a 90-year all-male membership. Miss Thomas was named the "newspaper woman of Washington" in 1968 by the American Newspaper Women's Club. Miss Thomas became the first woman officer of the White House Correspondents Association after it had been in existence more than 50 years and its first woman President in 1975-76. In 1975, Miss Thomas became the first woman member of the Gridiron Club in its 90-year history. In 1975, Miss Thomas was named the "Woman of the Year" in Communications by the Ladies Home Journal. She also received the Matrix award from the Women in Communications. Miss Thomas was the only print newspaperwoman who traveled with President Nixon to China during his breakthrough trip in February, 1972. She also has been to China with Secretary of State Henry Kissinger and President Ford. She has traveled around the world several times with Presidents Nixon and Ford. In 1976, The World Almanac names Helen Thomas as one of the 25 most influential women in America today. Commencement, University of Detroit, May 12, 1979.

University of Detroit

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