A timeline of Jane Charlotte Shields Freeman's life.
Created by MinnesotaHistory on Jan 13, 2009
Last updated: 03/11/10 at 04:43 PM
Tags: first lady minnesota
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Photo: Jane Freeman. Courtesy Jane C. Freeman, used with permission.
First Lady of Minnesota, a film about Jane Freeman won an Honorable Mention at the 2008 Minnesota's Greatest Generation Moving Pictures Film Festival.
Film Description: Nothing is more befitting the life and legacy of Mrs. Jane Freeman than the saying, "behind every great man is a great woman." Orville Freeman served three terms as Minnesota's 29th Governor, and standing by his side was his equally engaged and politically active wife, Jane. This short film serves as a tribute to her, and all the women of her generation who worked to make this country what it is today.
Filmmaker Amanda Becker says, "I have engaged in many 'film experiences', but am always working on my own 'emergence' in the film community! Although we have very different experiences and opinions, I learned so much about myself from my interaction with Jane. Most surprising and challenging was that I thought I would be making one film and realized in the editing process that I needed to tell a different story."
See also: Jane Shields Freeman: Minnesota's First Lady on the In Their Words: Stories of Minnesota's Greatest Generation web site.
Former Minnesota Governor Orville L. Freeman passed away in Minneapolis on February 20, 2003 from complications of Alzheimer's Disease.
Photo: Orville L. and Jane C. Freeman, taken at the Women's National Democratic Club, March 1995. Courtesy Jane C. Freeman, used with permission. On August 29, 2001 the University of Minnesota presented an Outstanding Achievement Award to Jane Shields Freeman in recognition for the work she and her husband, Orville, did in establishing the Humphrey Institute's Freeman Center for International Economic Policy in the late 1970s. Mrs. Freeman worked tirelessly throughout her 60-year career with nonprofit and governmental organizations to help alleviate poverty and hunger and to promote international cooperation and development.
Jane C. Freeman served as a member of the Board of Regents for Susquehanna University, a small private college in Pennsylvania, in the late 1980s. In May 1996 she was honored by the college for her service when they invited her to give the commencement address and conferred upon her an honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters degree.
Orville Freeman was diagnosed with Alzheimer's Disease in the early 1990s, and he and Jane moved back to Minnesota in December 1995 to be closer to their son's family.
Jane Freeman and her husband were long-time supporters of CARE. Jane, a strong advocate in support of CARE's international humanitarian efforts, joined the organization's board of directors in 1979 and served as its Vice President. In 1994, the Freemans were honored for their work when they received the CARE International Humanitarian Award.
Orville Freeman had served on the board of the University of Minnesota's Humphrey Institute of Public Affairs from the beginning, and he and Jane helped to establish a chair at center at the Humphrey Institute on International Economic Policy, which was later named for them. The objectives of the Freeman Center for Economic Policy include research on problems in the global economy, serving as a liaison between the international policy resources at the University and the public, and providing a forum where international policy researchers can share ideas. Jane also teamed with her son, Mike, to start the Freeman Forum to honor and carry on the work of her husband.
Photo: Orville and Jane Freeman at the Women's Natoinal Democratic Club, March, 1995. Courtesy Jane C. Freeman, used with permission.
A long-time member of the Women's National Democratic Club in Washington, DC, Jane Freeman served on the Board of Directors and was elected President in 1988, an office she held until 1999. She continues to take an active interest in politics today.
Read Jane C. Freeman - Return to Washington, DC on Share Your Story.
Photo: Jane C. Freeman as President of the girl Scouts of the USA at her desk in girl Scout headquarters. She served as President from October 1978 to October 1984. Courtesy Jane C. Freeman, used with permission.
Jane Freeman had worked with the Girl Scouts for many years. She served on the National Board of Directors beginning in 1966, and was International Commissioner for the Girl Scouts of the USA before serving the first of two consecutive terms as President for the organization, holding that office from 1978 to 1984.
Read Jane C. Freeman - The Girl Scouts on Share Your Story.
As Secretary of Agriculture, Orville Freeman made several trips to Vietnam to offer guidance in developing the agriculture there. On one trip in 1968, the helicopter he was in was hit by gunfire, but he was unhurt. Jane Freeman first heard about the incident on a newscast: "...all of a sudden I’m hearing on the newscast that Secretary Freeman’s helicopter has been shot. It turned out it was shot at and some bullets did hit it, but he was not hurt. But it took, shall I say, a few phone calls and a few traumatic moments, and I couldn’t believe that if something had happened to him I wouldn’t hear. But anyway, I got hold of somebody at the department who knew who to turn to at the White House and at the State Department and at the Defense Department to find out. We found out within a couple of hours that he had not been hit but the helicopter had been. So it was real. This is a Marine that already had enough bullets to last him the rest of his life. But it was a very difficult time and strain."
Read Part III: Jane C. Freeman - The Johnson Administration - Vietnam on Share Your Story.
Photo: Luncheon to honor faculty and advisors of the USDA Graduate School, January 9, 1962. Jane C. Freeman presiding, Mrs. Eleanor Roosevelt, Speaker, and Secretary of Agriculture Orville Freeman, Introducer. Courtesy Jane C. Freeman, used with permission.
Vice President Lyndon B. Johnson was sworn into office shortly after the death of President Kennedy. Orville Freeman continued in the cabinet as Agriculture Secretary, and Jane Freeman began to assist Lady Bird Johnson in various ways, such as helping to hostess at events at the White House, and working on the committe to beautify the Capitol as the point person for youth groups. When the First Lady organized a speaker's bureau, Jane traveled across the country to speak to garden clubs on the beautification scheme.
Jane also helped to find special speakers for education classes sponsored by the Department of Agriculture. One of the first speakers she recruited was Eleanor Roosevelt, who she had gotten to know while Minnesota's First Lady.
Read Part I and Part II of "Jane C. Freeman - The Johnson Administration" on Share Your Story.
Photo: President John F. Kennedy and Jacqueline Kennedy, April 1963. Location no. por 20333 p2. © Minnesota Historical Society Photograph Collection.
The assassination of President John F. Kennedy by Lee Harvey Oswald in Dallas, Texas stunned the nation. Jane and Orville Freeman were en route to Japan when they heard the news. Jane remembered that dark day: "...So we’re on the plane heading off to Japan...and after breakfast Secretary Rusk came on the loudspeaker...He had an announcement to make. He told them they had just received word that President Kennedy had been shot. Vice President Johnson was with him. They didn’t know if he had also been shot. They didn’t know if he was dead but that we were going to turn around and go back because Secretary Rusk would have been responsible at that time if the president and vice president had been killed for the little black box, which was the atomic bomb box.
"So we turned around and it was a very tense situation...But as we’re going we got the word that President Kennedy had been killed, that Vice President Johnson was alive and that we should proceed to Washington.
Read Part IV and Part V of "Jane C. Freeman - The Kennedy Administration - The Assassination" on Share Your Story.
Secretary of Agriculture Freeman and his wife were scheduled to pay an offcial visit to Oulu, Finland in June of 1961. When her father-in-law became ill and her husband was unable to go, Jane went to Finland alone. She remembered some of the highlights of her first official visit as a representative of the United States: "It was a wonderful experience. The ambassador and his wife took very good care of me. I laid the wreath. I made the little talk on behalf of the U.S. Government of friendship and just really enjoyed it. So I overcame a big hurdle of being fearful of trying to stretch out too much. But I was grateful for the experiences that I’d had as a first lady in our travels overseas and the particular guidance of Ambassador Eugenie Anderson who’d helped me a lot."
Read Part III: Jane C. Freeman - The Kennedy Administration - First Lady of Agriculture on Share Your Story.
Photo: Ivory satin ball gown worn by Mrs. Jane C. Freeman, wife of former Governor, Orville L. Freeman. The dress, designed by Nettie Rosenstein, features a matching rhinestone-studded satin cape and handbag. Accession no. 71.5.1.A-C. Minnesota Historical Society Costume & Textile Collection.
As the new Secretary of Agriculture, Orville L. Freeman and his wife were invited to attend President John F. Kennedy's inauguration. Jane Freeman remembered the event as "pure glamour and excitement." They rode in the inaugural parade, then prepared for the evening gala. She and her husband were assigned a military aide and a car and driver, but a major snowstorm prevented them from reaching their destination.
The higlight of the festivities for Jane was the Inaugural Ball. She wore the gown she had worn for her husband's first two inaugurals. She recalled,"I'm figuring the gown I had for our inaugural was the most beautiful gown I've had. I can't afford another one and so I just wore it and I felt so glamorous and gorgeous and just was so thrilled to be a part of it."
Read Part II: Jane C. Freeman - The Kennedy Administration: Inauguration on Share Your Story.
Photo: U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Orville Freeman on a tour of the Georgia farming region, 1961. Photographer: United States Department of Agriculture, Location no. J4.4 p6. MHS Photograph Collection.
After the disappointment of losing the race for a fourth term as Minnesota's Governor in 1960, Orville Freeman was rewarded for his work on behalf of the Democratic Party when President-Elect John F. Kennedy invited him to join his cabinet as Secretary of Agriculture, a post Freeman would hold until 1968.
Jane remembered that the offer came the day after the election: "...bright and early, like seven or eight o’clock, and it’s Kennedy on the phone. 'Orv, thanks so much for all you did. You saved Minnesota for us. You know that Minnesota was the state that put us over the top and I’m really grateful, and I’m sorry about what happened to you, but you know, I hope maybe you’ll consider coming down here and working with us.' Orv said, 'Working with you? Down there?' 'Yes, in the cabinet,' Jack Kennedy says. Orv . . . can you imagine saying this to the presidential nominee? Orv says to him, 'Oh, Mr. President, that would be great. Anything but agriculture. I don’t want agriculture. It’s too much of a mess.' I’m lying in bed next to him and I’m thinking, 'Orv Freeman, what are you doing?' Apparently the president just laughed and he said, 'Well, we’ll see about it.'"
Read Part I: Jane C. Freeman - The Kennedy Administration on Share Your Story.
Photo: John F. Kennedy speaking to group at an airport, ca. 1960. Orville Freeman stands to his left, Hubert Humphrey applauds at center. Photographer: Duff Johnston, Location no. J2 1960 p9. Minnesota Historical Society Photograph Collection.
Minnesotan Hubert H. Humphrey ran for the Democratic nomination for President in 1960 but lost in the primaries. At the 1960 Democratic National Convention, the Minnesota delegation was divided, with a range of candidates from which to choose. Some favored Adlai Stevenson, others John F. Kennedy. The Freemans, who had supported Humphrey, switched their allegiance to Kennedy - a difficult choice initally, particularly for Jane, who preferred Stevenson. When it came time for the vote, the Minnesota delegation had not yet reached a consensus and passed on the vote.
The Freemans were surprised when Orville received a call from Kennedy asking him to nominate him at the Convention, and intimating that the Minnesota governor was under consideration as a running mate, but Kennedy later chose Lyndon B. Johnson for Democratic ticket.
Photo:Orville Freeman with wife Jane C. Shields Freeman, daughter Constance and son Michael prior to inaugural reception, January 1959. Location no. por 8454 p16. Minnesota Historical Society Photograph Collection.
The Freemans were successful in the 1958 campaign for Orville's re-election as Minnesota's Governor. Jane continued to play an important role as the state's First Lady.
Photo: Delmar Hagen delivering mail to Governor and Mrs. Freeman at the State Fair, 1958, as part of the Centennial celebration. Location no. FM6.421 p4. © Minnesota Historical Society Photograph Collection.
The Freemans stepped up their campaign strategy in 1958 to include more television coverage, this time with Jane as the star. She hosted her own show entitled, "Mrs. Freeman Reads Her Mail," during which she answered letters from people across Minnesota.
She recalled, "By 1958 we decided to do a regular series and you could buy this television time very cheaply in the afternoon. So I was on right after the soap opera that still runs, As the World Turns. ...This was a half hour program of reading mail. Because I was getting a lot of mail from people that I had met on the campaign trail and just who were interested. Particularly on children’s issues and mental health and food safety and some on conservation because I talked about that a lot...But we always opened the program with something sort of folksy like, 'Boy, my apple pie this morning was a disaster. The crust was so tough I won’t dare serve it to the governor tonight. I need recipes.'"
Read Jane C. Freeman - Minnesota's First Lady - Re-election Campaigns, 1959-1960 Part VI and Part VII on Share Your Story.
In 1958 the Freemans had another foreign visitor, the Shah of Iran, who came to see the University of Minnesota's medical school, and to visit agricultural machinery manufacturing plants like Caterpillar and Minneapolis Moline. Jane Freeman remembered a highlight of his visit: "So we had a big banquet for the [University's Iranian] Student Association down in one of the hotels and I have a wonderful picture of us all at the head table in our best bib and tucker. Our fancy dresses and black ties and him in his uniform and all these adoring students, these young women dressed fit to kill and their mothers there....He clearly had been interested in highly educated women and did later marry another very highly educated woman."
Photo: The first "Kick-off" ceremony of the Minnesota Statehood Centennial year, held in the rotunda of the Capitol in December 1957. Pictured: Governor Freeman, Leonard Lampert, the Furness sisters. Photographer: Minneapolis Star Tribune, Location no. FM6.421 p1. Minnesota Historical Society Photograph Collection.
Governor Freeman was in his third term in office when Minnesota celebrated its Statehood Centennial in 1958. The Freemans hosted dignitaries from Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Finland, and Germany who came for the birthday event in May of that year. Jane and her husband relied on the Centennial Committee to coordinate their participation, and their friend, Eugenie Anderson, who had served as the U.S. Ambassador to Denmark to advise them on protocol.
Read Jane C. Freeman - Minnesota's First Lady - State Centennial on Share Your Story.
Photo: Governor and Mrs. Orville Freeman pose with a Korean girl in ethnic dress at the airport in Korea, 1957. Orville L. Freeman Papers, Minnesota Historical Society Manuscripts Collection.
Governor and Mrs. Freeman made a second goodwill trip in 1957 to build business relations with Asian countries. They visited Japan, Taiwan, and the Philippines. Jane recalled the concern that the Governor's wartime experience of suffering a wound at the hands of a Japanese soldier would create discomfort on the part of their hosts in Japan, but they arrived to a warm welcome and questions about the space race and America's Civil Rights issues - anything but the war.
The Freemans continued on from the official tour to visit Korea, a highlight of the trip for Jane: "The other part of that trip that was really so touching and special and changed...my participation in public life was when just Orv and I went to Korea. Korea was barely coming out of the Korean War and this was 1957...So we went there and President Syngman Rhee welcomed us...We went up to the DMZ and apparently I was one of the first women who’d been up there for a long time. Our troops were...very generous and sweet...But I went out then with the Lutheran Church World Service people when Orv was on official calls...to see the refugee areas outside of Seoul, people living on barren hillsides...I came home and decided I had to tell people that it was important to give their money and to give their clothes, that it was used. It was saving lives."
Part V: Jane C. Freeman - Minnesota's First Lady - Goodwill Tour on Share Your Story.
Photo: Mr. and Mrs. Freeman, 1956. Loc. no. por 8454 p5. © Minnesota Historical Society Photograph Collection.
Governor Orville L. Freeman won his second term as Minnesota's Governor in the 1956 election. He is pictured here with First Lady Jane Freeman in a 1956 photograph.
Photo: Adlai Stevenson and his party leaving a church at 2730 East Twenty Second Street, Minneapolis, 3/4/1956. Photographer: Minneapolis Star Tribune. Location no. J2 1956 r9. Minnesota Historical Society Photograph Collection.
While running their own campaign for Orville's re-election in 1956, the Freemans made time to support other Democratic candidates, like their friend, Adlai Stevenson, who was running for President. The Freemans are pictured here with Stevenson and Mrs. Edison Dick, Co-Chairman of the National Stevenson for President Committee).
Read Part II: Jane C. Freeman - Minnesota's First Lady - Re-election Campaigns on Share Your Story.
Photo: Governor Orville L. Freeman, Eugenie Anderson and Jane C. Freeman board a plane for the Scandinavian goodwill tour in 1955. Orville L. Freeman Papers, Minnesota Historical Society Manuscripts Collection.
Governor Freeman and his wife made their first overseas trips on behalf of Minnesota's economy during his first term as Governor of Minnesota. The tour to Norway, Sweden and Denmark was undertaken in 1955 at the urging of the State Department, Northwest Airlines, and Scandinavian consulates as a means of building business ties. After completing the Scandinavian tour, the Freemans broke off from the official delegation and went to Turkey, where there was a strong interest in purchasing Minnesota-made farm equipment, and then on to Berlin, which was still occupied by Allied forces.
Part IV: Jane C. Freeman - Minnesota's First Lady - Goodwill Tour on Share Your Story.
Photo: Jane Freeman with the painted portrait of herself, 1958. Minneapolis Star; Minnesota Historical Society Photograph Collection. Loc. no. por 15449 p1
Jane Freeman became First Lady of Minnesota with the election of her husband, Orville L. Freeman, to his first term as Governor. Orville Freeman went on to serve a total of three terms as Governor, and later accepted an appointment as Secretary of Agriculture under the Kennedy Administration in 1960. Mrs. Freeman is pictured her with her official "First Lady" portrait.
Read Part I: Jane C. Freeman - Minnesota's First Lady - Election Night on Share Your Story.
Photo: Trailer posted with campaign signs for Orville Freeman and Hubert H. Humphrey; a small sign for Val Bjornson is on the rear bumper, 1954. Location no. J2 1954 p16. © Minnesota Historical Society Photograph Collection.
In 1954 the Freemans again hit the campaign trail in Orville's second bid for Governor. Jane once again accompanied her husband to events and attended teas in greater Minnesota. She remembered, "I’d go to a tea in Brainerd and Mrs. So and So would give the tea and the write-up in the paper would be, 'Mrs. Freeman came and she wore a pink hat, and her pink hat matched the pink napkins and the pink roses on the table.' That everybody thought it was so sweet."
When Orville did a series of television programs, the couple purchased their first TV set so the children could see their father on television.
The 1954 campaign proved a success when Orville Freeman was elected to his first term as Governor of Minnesota.
Read Part III: Jane C. Freeman - The Politician's Wife on Share Your Story.
Photo: Textile Workers Union of America dinner; Mr. and Mrs. Orville Freeman among the guests, ca. 1955. Photographer: H. M. Schawang Photo Company, Loc. no. HG2.17 p17. © Minnesota Historical Society Photograph Collection.
When Orville Freeman decided to run for Governor of Minnesota, Jane provided active support on the campaign trail, attending coffee parties and teas, and accompanying her candidate husband to town festivals. Politically savvy herself, she remembered feeling restricted in her ability to promote her husband by the traditional role of a candidate's wife: "trying to figure out what was appropriate to wear and to know when you should speak and when you should not speak because it was still a very tenuous thing about the wives of candidates doing more than looking admiringly at their husband as they speak."
Orville Freemna's first attempt at the office of Governor failed when he was defeated by incombent Luther W. Youngdahl.
Read Part II: Jane C. Freeman - The Politician's Wife on Share Your Story.
Photo: Orville L. Freeman Residence, 2316 Seabury Avenue, Minneapolis, 1955. Photographer: Minneapolis Star Journal Tribune, Location no. MH5.9 MP3.2g p22. Minnesota Historical Society Photograph Collection.
The Freemans purchased their first home on Seabury Avenue in the Minneapolis Seward neighborhood in 1951, using a G.I. loan with a 4% mortgage rate. The family would continue to live in the home throughout Orville Freeman's years as governor, as no housing or housing allowance or Governor's Mansion came with the job at that time.
Read Part II: Jane C. Freeman - The Politician's Wife on Share Your Story.
When Orville Freeman made the decision to run for Attorney General in 1950, Jane was concerned about the other DFL candidates on the slate and thought it might be detrimental to her husband's political career. When he would not change his mind, Jane was by his side at campaign events and manning the telephones at home. Orville Freeman lost the election, in spite of a hard-fought campaign.
Read Part I: Jane C. Freeman - The Politician's Wife on Share Your Story.
Orville Freeman served as chairman of the Minnesota DFL Party in 1947-1948, and was chosen to head Hubert Humphrey's campaign for the U.S. Senate the following year. Jane was home with a new baby, but kept up on what was happening at the state convention in Brainerd. Her help was enlisted after the convention when her husband announced "Get ready. You've got some telephoning to do."
Photo: Michael O. Freeman, ca. 1983. Location no. por 23253 r1. © Minnesota Historical Society Photograph Collection.
The Freeman's second child, a son, Michael Orville, was born after the family returned to Minnesota. Mike Freeman would follow in his father's political footsteps, serving as a State Senator from 1983-1991, and as Hennepin County Attorney from 1991-1999. Following two unsuccessful bids to become the DFL's candidate for governor, Mike Freeman was re-elected as Hennepin County Attorney in 2006.
Orville Freeman finished his law studies in June 1947, the same year Humphrey was re-elected Mayor. He passed the state bar exam in August of that year, and joined the law firm of Larson, Leovinger and Lindquist.
When Orville Freeman received his discharge from the Marine Corps, he and Jane packed up their young daughter and belongings and returned to Minnesota in time for Christmas, 1945. Jane remembered it as "the happiest Christmas ever."
The Freemans lived with family before moving to a Quonset hut veterans' village. Orville resumed his law studies at the University of Minnesota and began to work for his friend, Hubert Humphrey, then Mayor of the City of Minneapolis. Jane was a full-time homemaker, taking care of Connie and finding an outlet for her political interests with the League of Women Voters.
Read Jane C. Freeman - Life in a Quonset Hut and Bringing Up Baby on Share Your Story.
Photo: People celebrating on VJ Day, Minneapolis, 1945. Location no. E448.17 r4. © Minnesota Historical Society Photograph Collection.
V-J Day - "Victory over Japan" - signalled the end of of World War II. The Freemans were living in Arlington, VA at the time, and Jane and her husband joined the crowd gathered in Lafayette Square across from the White House to get a glimpse of President Truman. She remembered the unforgettable experience of seeing the president emerge onto the front portico, and the significance of seeing the lights come on in the White House, which had been dark in observance of strict blackout regulations during the war.
Read Jane C. Freeman: V-J Day in Washington, DC on
Share Your Story.
After months of rehabilitation, Orville Freeman received orders to report to Marine Headquarters in Washington, DC in July 1944. The Freemans enjoyed a delay en route in Minnesota before completing the journey. Jane took a job in the office of the Secretary of War at the Pentagon, again doing employee relations work, while her husband networked for the Marine Corps with private companies for veteran employment opportunities.
Photo: Vendors selling newspaper announcing President Franklin D. Roosevelt's death, 4/13/1945. Photographer: Minneapolis Star Journal. Location no. HC1.17 p18. © Minnesota Historical Society Photograph Collection.
The death of President Franklin D. Roosevelt stunned the nation and its allies in the midst of World War.
Jane Freeman was working in Washington, DC when the news reached her, and she canceled a doctor's appointment to see the funeral procession. She remembered FDR's death as "a heartbreaking thing to us."
Read Jane C. Freeman - The Death of FDR on Share Your Story.
After being wounded, Orville Freeman was shipped back to the States and arranged to meet Jane in Chicago while on leave. After a brief visit back to Minnesota, the Freemans went to Oakland, CA, where Orville was to report to the Oak Knoll Naval Hospital for further treatment for his war wounds.
Like all military wives throughout history, Jane Freeman worried about her husband's safety while serving overseas. She recalled how she first learned that he'd been injured while fighting for the Island of Bougainville: "Orv’s father called me at work and said could I come by there tonight and have supper with them? I said, you know, 'I’m going to have to work a little bit late. Maybe I should come tomorrow.' He said, 'Well, we’d really like you to come tonight.' So I thought I better go. And I thought something was wrong because his grandmother had not been well. When I got there here was a handwritten letter from Orv, pencil on a tablet, and he’d gotten the 5th Avenue address. His family still lived in the house he lived in, oh my gosh, since grade school. 'I’m okay. I’m in the hospital, but I’m okay. Got hit in the head so of course it doesn’t hurt.' He was hard-headed from playing football and so forth. 'Will write more when I can. May be moved to a different hospital.' Let’s see, this was early December that we got this and the last letters had been dated in September that we’d gotten in early October. Anyway, we didn’t know very much and I couldn’t figure out why I had not gotten any word from the Marine Corps because usually they notified people...It turned out, many years later when Orv was stationed at Marine headquarters after he got out of the hospital and all, and found his personnel folder, here was the telegram that had been sent to me but it had been sent to the address in Arlington, Virginia where I’d lived with my parents, and returned 'not available', and they never traced me."
Photo: Connie Freeman, 1968. © Jane C. Freeman, used with permission.
The Freeman's first child, daughter Constance, was born in Washington, DC on July 3, 1943. Upon his discharge from the Marines, Orville and Jane packed up the baby and left for Minnesota. Jane remembered the support she received from their families in caring for the baby - and washing mountains of cloth diapers in a hand-cranked, wringer washing machine, until she was able to engage a diaper service.
Connie attended the American Univresity in Washington, majoring in International Studies, and later earned her PhD in Development Economics. After teaching abroad, she joined the Foreign Service and worked in Africa for a time. She returned to Africa to work with the Canadian International Development Research Institute in 2002.
Read Jane C. Freeman - New Parents on Share Your Story.
When her husband left for overseas, Jane packed up and went home to Minnesota for a brief visit with her in-laws before joining her parents and brother in Washington, DC. Orville's Aunt Frieda assisted Jane in landing a job in employee relations in the office of the Chief of Staff. When her family moved back to Minnesota, Orville urged her to join them, so she quit her job and followed them back home.
Jane Freeman remembered how little notice was given to them before her husband received orders to ship out for duty in the Pacific Theater of Operations: "But somehow January always seems to have been our bad month for departures because in early January . . . you never got specific orders. It’s just that they had a big rallying ceremony out at the camp celebrating something or other. But it seemed a little contrived. Where they had the marching and the wives were all invited out for dinner and all. And then they suddenly got an unexpected leave of two nights and a day, which almost never ever happened, and Orv said all the rumors were that they were heading for San Diego to board the ships. Sure enough." Orville's surprise destination was New Zealand. Jane would learn of his whereabouts and follow his movements through the mail, and from the newspapers and radio news programs. It was "at least a month" before she received the first letter from Orville.
Not long after their arrival in California, Orville Freeman was moved to the newly built Marine Corps base, Camp Pendleton, with his unit, the 3rd Marines, 9th Regiment, K Company, and he and Jane rented a house on St. Malo Beach, near Oceanside.
Photo: The Freemans (far left) with friends in La Jolla, CA, where Orville was stationed with the Marine Corps. Courtesy Jane C. Freeman, used with permission. Following the receipt of his commission in the U.S. Marine Corps, Orville Freeman was posted to San Diego, California during the summer of 1942. He and Jane shared a two bedroom house with fellow Marine Bob Johnson and his wife, Charlotte (third from left in photo), overlooking the beach at La Jolla. Jane recalled her early attempts at cooking for her new husband and housemates: "The first time that I was cooking dinner for [Orville and Bob] I tried to make a chocolate pie and I rolled that pie out so carefully, and pinched the edge of the rim over and over, and made it. Oh, it looked just gorgeous...Orv went to cut it, the pie slid across the floor. [Chuckles] It was as hard as a rock, that crust. I didn’t know much about cooking because in my family my mother was a very good cook but she really didn’t much like people messing around in her kitchen."
Jane Freeman took the Civil Service examination in Washington in the spring of 1942, and soon received a commission to work in the personnel office of the War Relocation Authority, the agency that handled displaced Japanese Americans that were interned during the war. She was in the midst of graduate school, but chose to take the $2,000 a year job at the agency instead of finishing her Master's Degree.
Photo: Jane Shields and Orville L. Freeman on their wedding day, May 2, 1942. Courtesy Jane C. Freeman, used with permission.
Jane Shields met her future husband, Orville L. Freeman, while at the University of Minnesota in 1941. The couple was married in Washington, DC on May 2, 1942, after the groom received his officer's commission in the U.S. Marine Corps.
Read Jane C. Freeman - Wartime Romance on Share Your Story.
Jane Shields remembered how quickly things moved once war was declared by the United States. She learned on New Year's Eve, just two weeks after her engagement to Orville Freeman, that he had received his orders to report to Quantico, Virginia for training and would be leaving before the end of January. The couple's plans to be married in Minneapolis in June after Orville completed officer training quickly changed, too, when trainees were being sent overseas before completing advanced officer training. The wedding was moved up to early May.
Photo: Eleanor Roosevelt at the Minneapolis Airport, on an ealier visit to the Twin Cities, 1937. Photographer: Minneapolis Star Journal, Location no. por 12551 p1. Minnesota Historical Society Photograph Collection.
One of the highlights of Jane Shields' academic career came when Eleanor Roosevelt visited the University of Minnesota campus to speak at the National Student Association's annual meeting. Orville Freeman, as president of the Minnesota All-University Council and host of the convention, and Jane as "chief assistant organizer" had the privilege of escorting the First Lady during her visit.
The Sunday after the bombing of Pearl Harbor, Orville Freeman proposed to Jane Shields, and she accepted. Jane's two sisters also became engaged that month. She remembered that Christmas, "So you can imagine my parents with three daughters, all three at one Christmas with war coming on. My young brother who was five years younger than my younger sister is in high school and just champing at the bit to be a part of the action. It was quite a Christmas, as it was for many families."
Read Jane C. Freeman - Wartime Romance on Share Your Story.
Jane Shields was on a date with Orville Freeman and friends when the news came about the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. Orville had signed up for the Marine Corps the previous spring, and with the United States entering the war, Jane knew that he would soon be leaving for officer's training.
Read Jane C. Freeman - Pearl Harbor on Share Your Story.
Photo: Jane C. Shields and her sister, Ruth, with their family on their graduation from the University of Minnesota. Courtesy Jane C. Freeman, used with permission.
Jane C. Shields began her studies at the University of Minnesota at the age of 16, and received her Bachelor's Degree in 1941. Following graduation, she received a Clara Uehland Scholarship that enabled her to begin graduate studies at the U of M in public administration.
Jane is pictured on the far left in this photograph, with (l-r) her father James M. Shields, her sister Ruth, her mother, Frances, and youngest sister, Betty.
Read Jane C. Freeman - University Days on Share Your Story.