Elizabeth "Jane" (Baute) Sinner was born January 13, 1931 in Lebanon, Kentucky, where she lived until 1948. She attended St. Louis University in St. Louis, Missouri in 1948 and then Webster University, also in St. Louis, from 1949 through 1951. While at Webster University she met George Sinner, future governor of North Dakota. The two were married in 1951 and moved to Casselton, ND, Sinner's home town. The Sinners raised ten children. Before becoming the state's First Lady, Jane Sinner involved herself with a variety of local social and arts groups as well as the North Dakota Mental Health Association.
As North Dakota's First Lady from 1985-1992, Jane Sinner initiated several social and cultural projects. First among them was the "Celebration of Lights," which she began in conjunction with the North Dakota Mental Health Association. Held statewide during the Christmas season, "Celebration of Lights" is an annual awareness and fund raising campaign that benefits the ND Mental Health Association.
Jane Sinner also was concerned about problems associated with teen pregnancy and violence in children's television programming. She spoke often on both subjects, addressing parents' groups and school boards. She also participated in a September 1987 Western Governors' Association conference on television violence.
Her position as First Lady enabled her to promote local arts. Jane Sinner helped form the Sleepy Hollow Performing Arts Camp, a summer program for North Dakota youths interested in theatre. She also attended art shows across the state, presenting Governor's Awards to local artists and displaying their work at the Governor's Residence in Bismarck.
In addition to acquiring art for her state home, Jane Sinner established a private, non-profit foundation, "Friends of the Residence," to raise funds for the restoration and preservation of the Governor's Residence. Of the Residence's 18 rooms, 16 were restored and redecorated under her direction.
To promote the beautification of state lands, especially roadsides, Jane Sinner founded "North Dakota Goes Wild!" The private/public partnership gathered information about North Dakota's wild flowers and distributed seed packets and related documentation to individuals and groups across the state.
After Governor Sinner's second term expired in December 1992, the Sinners moved to Fargo.
When received, the Jane Sinner Papers consisted of nine boxes filled with documents and materials related to or created by Jane Sinner during her eight years as North Dakota's First Lady. Folders containing correspondence were, for the most part, arranged chronologically. The bulk of the collection consisted of folders that were organized by subject. Subject headings were primarily arranged in alphabetical order. One box was filled with appointment books and a guest book.
When processed, the Jane Sinner Papers were arranged into three series - Correspondence, Subjects, and Appointment and Guest Books. Audio/visual materials and photographs were separated.