Idella Louise Haugen Preus

Idella Preus with son Jacob A.O. Jr., 1923First Lady
January 5, 1921 - January 6, 1925

Born: December 23, 1884
in Decorah, Iowa

Died: January 15, 1968
in Chicago, Illinois

Married November 26, 1908 to Jacob A.O. Preus

Idella (Idelle) Louise Haugen was born in 1884 in Iowa to Klemmet J. Haugen, a Norwegian immigrant, and Minnie A. Boyd. She was educated at the Lutheran Ladies Seminary in Red Wing, Minnesota.

Idella met Jacob A.O. Preus in Decorah, Iowa, where he attended Luther College. The couple married in Decorah in 1908 and then moved to Ada, Minnesota, where Preus had a law practice. The Preuses had four sons: twins who died shortly after birth in 1910, Jacob II (b. 1920) and Robert (b. 1925). Both surviving boys became leading Lutheran pastors and scholars.

Jacob Preus was elected governor of Minnesota in 1920, the first election in which women could vote. In a June 1924 Women's Home Companion article Idella was quoted, "I've always believed women should have the vote but I never would have fought for it." Later in the article she mentioned, "I'm not a club woman. How could I be when I'm always with my husband?"

After his term in office Preus took a job in Chicago. The couple returned to Minneapolis after his retirement in 1958; he then served as chairman of the Lutheran Brotherhood, an insurance organization he had helped found in 1917. The Preuses enjoyed traveling, visiting Europe and making annual trips to Mexico. After Jacob's death in 1961 Idella returned to Chicago where she died in 1968. Both are buried in the Decorah Lutheran Cemetery.

Photographs of Idella Haugen Preus