Edward Lewis Bartlett was born on April 20, 1904, in Seattle, Washington. After graduating from the University of Alaska in 1925, Bartlett began his career in politics. A reporter for the Fairbanks Daily News until 1933, he accepted the position of secretary to Delegate Anthony Dimond of Alaska. Three years later he became the chairman of the Unemployment Compensation Commission of Alaska.
On January 30, 1939, President Franklin D. Roosevelt appointed him secretary of the Alaska Territory. Beginning in 1945, Bartlett served as the delegate from Alaska to the 79th and the six succeeding Congresses. Continuing his civic service, he was president of the Alaska Tuberculosis Association and served as a member of the Alaska War Council. He labored constantly for statehood; upon Alaska's admission to the Union in 1959 he became the first senator from Alaska and served until 1967.
Bartlett possessed the reputation of a quiet man of achievement. The Library of Congress estimates that he had more bills passed into law than any other member in congressional history. Some of his bills included the Radiation Safety Bill and the Bartlett Act, requiring all federally funded buildings to be accessible to the handicapped. Well-loved and respected by his constituents as well as his peers, Bartlett died December 11, 1968.