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Adams, Annette Abbott (12 March 1877–26 October 1956), lawyer and judge, was born in Prattville, California, the daughter of Hiram Brown Abbott, a storekeeper and justice of the peace, and Annette Frances Stubbs, a teacher. Adams earned a teaching credential from Chico State Normal School in 1897 and became schoolmistress of a country school until she entered the University of California-Berkeley in 1901. After receiving her bachelor’s degree in 1904, she taught high school in a rural county, serving as principal from 1907 to 1910. Encouraged by county trial judge John E. Raker, Adams entered Boalt Hall and supported herself while earning a J.D. The dean recommended her, the only woman in the class of 1912, to Western Pacific Railway for their house counsel. The company rejected her on the basis of gender, and she opened a private practice in Plumas County. She hired an instructor to learn how to change her voice from soprano to baritone to suit her masculine legal role. In 1906 she married Martin H. Adams but left him after one month. By 1914 she let others assume that she was a widow, although she and Adams never divorced. For thirty years she shared her home with her brother....

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Florence Ellinwood Allen. Holding flag, center, at Woman Suffrage Headquarters on Upper Euclid Avenue, Cleveland, 1912. Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-USZ62-30776).

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Allen, Florence Ellinwood (23 March 1884–12 September 1966), federal judge, was born in Salt Lake City, Utah, the daughter of Clarence Emir Allen, a lawyer, congressman, and mine manager, and Corinne Marie Tuckerman, a women’s club leader. In 1904 she earned a bachelor’s degree Phi Beta Kappa from the women’s college of Western Reserve University in Cleveland. She then worked for two years in Berlin, Germany, as a music critic. Returning to Cleveland, she taught at a private girls’ school. Lacking the talent for a concert piano career and bored by teaching duties, she took a master’s degree in political science from Western Reserve in 1908. The public law courses reminded her of the exciting connection between law and social reform, exemplified by her father’s political career....

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Robert L. Gale and Thaddeus Russell

Alpern, Anne X. (1903–02 February 1981), attorney and judge, was born in Russia, the daughter of Joseph Alpern and Mary Leaser. (Alpern would never explain what the X in her name stood for, and it was rumored that early in her life she added it simply for fun.) The family immigrated to western Pennsylvania when she was an infant. They settled in Scenery Hill, near Washington, Pennsylvania, where her father owned a general store. Alpern attended Nicholas Elementary School and Scenery Hill High School in the town of Washington. After the family moved to Pittsburgh, she enrolled at the University of Pittsburgh, from which she graduated in 1923 with a B.A. in education. Urged by her father to study law as a result of his admiration for ...

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Barron, Jennie Loitman (12 October 1891–28 March 1969), suffragist, lawyer, and judge, was born in Boston, Massachusetts, the daughter of Morris Loitman, a needle trades worker and later an insurance agent, and Fannie Castelman, a needle trades worker. From her Russian immigrant parents, Jennie Loitman learned the value of education. She graduated from grammar school at age twelve and from Boston’s Girls High School at age fifteen. While in high school she worked as an after school “hand” in a shoe factory. She taught Americanization classes in the evening and sold copies of William Shakespeare’s works door to door to pay her way through Boston University, where she received three degrees, an A.B. in 1911, an LL.B. in 1913, and an LL.M. in 1914....

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Bartelme, Mary Margaret (24 July 1866–25 July 1954), lawyer and judge, was born in Chicago, Illinois, the daughter of Balthazar Bartelme, a building contractor, and Jeanette Hoff. She attended local schools, graduating from high school in 1882. She then attended Cook County Normal School, graduating to teach in the Chicago school system for five years. Originally she had planned a career in medicine, but a woman doctor advised against it and told her to meet with attorney ...

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Bird, Rose (02 November 1936–04 December 1999), chief justice of the California Supreme Court, was born in Tucson, Arizona, the daughter of Harry D. Bird, a salesman and chicken farmer, and Anne Bird, a factory worker. Her parents separated when she was five, and her mother moved Rose and her two older brothers to New York in 1950. Rose called her mother “my role model,” an example of hard work, financial independence, and belief in education....

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Bosone, Reva Beck (02 April 1895–21 July 1983), judge and congresswoman, was born in American Fork, Utah, the daughter of Christian M. Beck, a hotel and livery stable owner, and Zilpha Ann Chipman, manager of the hotel. Descended both from Mayflower ancestors and early Utah Mormon pioneers, she was born into a family that emphasized education for both boys and girls. She graduated from Westminster Junior College in 1917 and from the University of California at Berkeley in 1919. She taught speech, drama, and debate in several Utah high schools for seven years before entering the University of Utah College of Law in 1927. There she met and married, in 1929, fellow student Joseph P. Bosone. She received an LL.B. in 1930, shortly before the birth of her daughter....

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Terri Ann M. K. Motosue

Buck, Carrick Hume (05 July 1900–18 October 1959), lawyer, was born in Las Vegas, New Mexico, the daughter of Arthur Perry Buck, a sheep and cattle rancher, and Henrietta Hume Pettijohn, a lawyer. Buck decided on a legal career after watching defense lawyer Earl Rogers during a trial. Buck’s mother may have also influenced her decision to pursue law. Henrietta Hume Buck is distinguished as the first woman admitted to the New Mexico bar. In 1920 Carrick Buck completed her legal education at the University of Southern California, the same institution from which she had received her undergraduate degree. At age twenty-one Buck began her career as the youngest woman admitted to the California bar, one year after women received the right to vote....

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Bullock, Georgia Philipps (18 November 1878–29 August 1957), state trial judge, was born in Chicago, Illinois, the daughter of Thomas Herbert Morgan, a manufacturer, and Mary Potwin Judd. She attended a number of public and private schools, including girls’ schools in Wales (England) and Indiana. When she received a contract offer for concert singing in her late teens, her parents discouraged a career in music because they disapproved of public performances by women. She married William Wingfield Bullock in 1899 and divorced him ten years later. In 1910 she moved with her parents and two children to Pasadena, California, where she always characterized herself as a widow. Her children became important icons in her efforts to assure California voters and politicians of her feminine credentials for serving on the women’s court....

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Cline, Genevieve Rose (27 July 1877–25 October 1959), federal judge, was born in Warren, Ohio, the daughter of Edward B. Cline, a Hungarian immigrant who operated a lunchroom, and Mary Fee. Cline attended the public schools in Warren until the family moved to Cleveland, where she lived her adult life. She attended the Cleveland Spencerian School, where she studied stenographic skills and found her first job with the Osborn Manufacturing Company for five dollars a week....

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Dembitz, Nanette (22 November 1912–04 April 1989), lawyer and judge, was born in Washington, D.C., to Abraham Lincoln Dembitz, a lawyer, and Sarah Westheimer, a teacher. After graduating from the University of Michigan cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa in 1932, Dembitz went to work as a social worker in Baltimore. She found this unsatisfying and decided to follow the footsteps of her father, her grandfather, ...

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Grossman, Mary Belle (10 June 1879–27 January 1977), suffragist, attorney, and judge, was born in Cleveland, Ohio, the daughter of Louis Grossman, the proprietor of a meat and hardware business, and Fannie Engle. Grossman attended Cleveland public schools and graduated from the old Central High School and from the Euclid Avenue Business College. She worked in the law office of a cousin, Louis J. Grossman, from 1896 to 1912. She decided that a career as a lawyer was preferable to that of a stenographer and bookkeeper and enrolled in 1909 in the evening program of Cleveland Law School (now a part of Cleveland State University), the first law school in Ohio to accept women. She was awarded her LL.B. in 1912 and passed the Ohio bar examination that same year. After practicing law in her cousin’s office for two years, she established her own law office and engaged in the solo practice of law through 1923. She never married....

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Harron, Marion Janet (03 September 1903–26 September 1972), judge, was born in San Francisco, California, the daughter of Charles M. Harron and Minnie Jane Little. In the 1906 earthquake she escaped across the bay with her parents, who lost their home and possessions. Harron attended the University of California at Berkeley on scholarships, graduating Phi Beta Kappa in 1924 in economics. Her mentor was ...

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Kenyon, Dorothy (17 February 1888–11 February 1972), attorney, political activist, and judge, was born in New York City, the daughter of William Houston Kenyon, an attorney, and Maria Wellington Stanwood. In 1904 Kenyon graduated from Horace Mann High School in New York City. She then attended Smith College, graduating in 1908 with a bachelor of arts degree in economics and history....

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Lewis, Rhoda Valentine (31 August 1906–12 September 1991), lawyer and judge, was born in Chicago, Illinois, the daughter of Charles Tobias Lewis, an engineer, and Josephine Valentine Spitzer. During her childhood, Lewis lived in Chicago and Honolulu, Hawaii. She graduated from Stanford University in 1927 and from Stanford Law School in 1929, proving her command of the law early by graduating first in a seventy-member class and completing her studies in two years instead of the usual three. Despite being the only woman in her class, Lewis had a congenial law school experience, which did not prepare her for the gender obstacles that she would encounter after graduation....

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Lockwood, Lorna Elizabeth (24 March 1903–23 September 1977), state supreme court justice, was born in Douglas, Arizona, the daughter of Alfred Collins Lockwood, an attorney and and Daisy Maude Lincoln. After completing high school in Tombstone, Arizona, she attended the University of Arizona, from which she received her bachelor’s degree in 1923 and her law degree in 1925. She was only the second woman to attend the University of Arizona College of Law, and the dean was reluctant to admit her on account of her gender. Lockwood’s decision to become an attorney at a time when very few women were admitted to the bar was originally inspired by her father and Sarah Soren, Arizona’s first woman lawyer, who had practiced law with him in Globe, Arizona....

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Matthews, Burnita Shelton (28 December 1894–25 April 1988), women's rights activist and the first woman federal trial judge, women’s rights activist and the first woman federal trial judge, was born in Copiah County, Mississippi, the daughter of Burnell Shelton, a plantation owner and county official, and Lora Drew Barlow. The only girl in a family of five children, Matthews aspired to follow her older brother to law school, but when her mother died when she was sixteen her father sent her to study piano and voice at the Cincinnati Conservatory of Music. He said he thought she would be “happier doing what women did down there in Mississippi.” For a few years she supported herself by teaching music in public schools in Texas, Georgia, and Mississippi, and in 1917 she married her high school sweetheart, Percy Ashley Matthews, now a Washington lawyer; the couple did not have children....

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Edith Sampson Photograph by Carl Van Vechten, 1949. Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-USZ62-105576).

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Sampson, Edith Spurlock (13 October 1901–08 October 1979), lawyer and judge, was born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, the daughter of Louis Spurlock, the manager of a cleaning and dyeing business, and Elizabeth A. McGruder. She came from a poor black family. Her resourceful mother had managed, by weaving and selling hat frames and switches, to earn enough money to buy a home. Financial necessity forced her to interrupt her grade school education to go to work, but eventually she was able to return and to graduate from Peabody High School in Pittsburgh. After high school she was employed by Associated Charities, a group that made it possible for her to attend the New York School of Social Work. While there she received the highest grade in a criminology course, which prompted Professor ...