COVID-19 Updates: The Wisconsin Historical Society hours have changed. See a full list of COVID-19 Closures and Events HERE.

Wisconsin Historical Society

Historical Essay

Kohler, Ruth Miriam [De Young] 1906 - 1953

Journalist, Clubwoman, Philanthropist,

Kohler, Ruth Miriam [De Young] 1906 - 1953 | Wisconsin Historical Society
Dictionary of Wisconsin History.


b. Harvey, Illinois, August 24, 1906

d. Kohler, Wisconsin, March 7, 1953

Ruth De Young graduated from Smith College in Massachusetts in 1928 and did graduate work at the Sorbonne in Paris and the University of London. During the 1930s she was the woman’s editor of the Chicago Tribune and conducted a weekly radio program called, "Women World Wide."  In March of 1937 she met Herbert V. Kohler and after a whirlwind romance they married on June 21st; she had three children with him (Herbert Jr., Ruth De Young II, and Frederic Cornell). 

From 1939-1941 she served as editor of ‘The Wisconsin Club-Woman’ and as director of the General Federation of Women’s Clubs. Kohler also sat on the board of the State Historical Society and served as vice president, as well as forming the Women’s Auxiliary of the State Historical Society of Wisconsin. In 1948, she became Chairman of the Committee on Wisconsin Women and spearheaded the creation of the Women’s Building at the state’s Centennial Exposition in Milwaukee that ‘traced Wisconsin family life for the century past.’ Her committee also produced two books, ‘The Story of Wisconsin Women’ and ‘Wisconsin Historic Sites’.

Kohler is perhaps best remembered for the restoration of the Wade House at Greenbush, to which she devoted 3 intense years. Her attention to historical detail led her not only to restore the buildings but to furnish them authentically. She was honored for this work by the American Association of Museums on May 30, 1952. Ruth Kohler died at the young age of 46 on March 7, 1953.

"Famous Wisconsin Women." (Madison : Women’s Auxiliary, State Historical Society of Wisconsin, 1971); Who's Who in Amer., 27, (1952); Wis. Club Woman 36 (May, 1953); Wis. Mag. Hist., 36; Sheboygan Press, Mar. 9, 1953.

The Wisconsin Historical Society has manuscripts related to this topic. See the catalog description of the Marie C. Kohler and Ruth DeYoung Kohler Papers for details.

Dictionary of Wisconsin biography; "Famous Wisconsin Women." (Madison : Women’s Auxiliary, State Historical Society of Wisconsin, 1971)

Learn More

See more images, essays, newspapers and records about Ruth Miriam Kohler (De Young).

Explore more than 1,600 people, places and events in Wisconsin history.