Born in Milwaukee, FRED R. ZIMMERMAN went to work early to help support his family after his father’s death. He began the Bee Hive Dairy in 1902, which distributed milk to Milwaukee residents, and was involved with a number of other businesses prior to becoming director of industrial relations for the Nash Motor Company. In 1908, he won a term in the State Assembly by just six votes, after which he was a board member for the town of Lake in Milwaukee County. He was elected Secretary of State in 1922 and was reelected in 1924 in alignment with the progressive wing of the Republican Party. Elected governor in 1926, important enactments during his single term in office included the first drivers license law and the permanent registration of voters in cities with populations over 5,000. After losing his bid for reelection in 1928, he was sent by President Hoover as an envoy to the Spanish-American Exposition in Seville. He lost the gubernatorial primary in 1934, as well as a bid for a seat in Congress. However, in 1938 he won election to once again become Secretary of State, a position that he went on to hold for nine consecutive terms.
Sobel, Robert, and John Raimo, eds. Biographical Directory of the Governors of the United States, 1789-1978, Vol. 4. Westport, CT: Meckler Books, 1978. 4 vols.
The National Cyclopaedia of American Biography, Vol. 40. New York: James T. White & Company.