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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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Alexander, Sadie Tanner Mossell (03 January 1898–01 November 1989), economist and lawyer, was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, the daughter of Aaron Mossell, an attorney and the first black graduate of the University of Pennsylvania Law School, and Mary Tanner. While a young girl her father abandoned the family, and she was raised by her mother with the assistance of relatives....

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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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Bittenbender, Ada Matilda Cole (03 August 1848–15 December 1925), lawyer and suffragist, was born in Bradford County, Pennsylvania, the daughter of Daniel Cole, an inventor and Civil War veteran, and Emily A. Madison. After some local schooling, she attended Lowell’s Commercial College in Binghamton, New York, graduating in 1869. She then attended the Pennsylvania State Normal School at Bloomsburg from 1874 to 1875, teaching there for one year after her graduation. From 1876 to 1877 she attended the Froebel Normal Institute in Washington, D.C. After graduating, she returned to Bloomsburg and served as principal of the Pennsylvania State Normal School, but she resigned after one year for reasons of health....

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Inez Milholland Boissevain Photograph by Arnold Genthe, 1914. Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-G432-0661-B).

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Boissevain, Inez Milholland (06 August 1886–25 November 1916), lawyer, feminist, and suffrage activist, was born in Brooklyn, New York, the daughter of John Elmer Milholland, a reporter and editorial writer, and Jean Torrey. Her father supported many reforms, among them world peace, civil rights, and woman suffrage. It was probably through his influence that Inez acquired her sense of moral justice and her activist stance....

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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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Carter, Eunice Hunton (16 July 1899–25 January 1970), attorney, was born in Atlanta, Georgia, the daughter of Canadian-born William Alphaeus Hunton, an executive with the Young Men’s Christian Association (YMCA), and Addie Waites, a field-worker with the Young Women’s Christian Association (YWCA) in Europe. Carter’s parents, who were African American, had three other children, but only Carter and her younger brother lived to adulthood. After the race riots of 1906, Carter’s family left Atlanta for Brooklyn, New York. In Brooklyn Carter attended public schools. When her mother went to Strasbourg, Germany, to study at Kaiser Wilhelm University from 1909 to 1910, Carter accompanied her....

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Cary, Mary Ann Camberton Shadd (09 October 1823–05 June 1893), African-American educator, journalist/editor, and lawyer, was born in Wilmington, Delaware, the daughter of Abraham Doras Shadd and Harriet Parnell. Although the eldest of thirteen children, Mary Ann Shadd grew up in comfortable economic circumstances. Little is known about her mother except that she was born in North Carolina in 1806 and was of mixed black and white heritage; whether she was born free or a slave is unknown. Shadd’s father was also of mixed-race heritage. His paternal grandfather, Jeremiah Schad, was a German soldier who had fought in the American Revolution and later married Elizabeth Jackson, a free black woman from Pennsylvania. Abraham Shadd had amassed his wealth as a shoemaker, and his property by the 1830s was valued at $5,000. He was a respected member of the free black community in Wilmington and in West Chester, Pennsylvania, where the family had moved sometime in the 1830s, and he served as a delegate to the American Anti-Slavery Society in 1835 and 1836....

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Couzins, Phoebe Wilson (08 September 1839?–06 December 1913), lawyer, suffragist, and lecturer, was born in St. Louis, Missouri, the daughter of John Edward Decker Couzins, a carpenter and builder, and Adaline Weston. Her parents were both politically active. Her father held the posts of chief of police of St. Louis and U.S. marshal for the Eastern District of Missouri. Her mother served as a nurse to the Western Sanitary Commission during the Civil War where she provided aid to wounded and sick soldiers. Both parents instilled in their daughter an activist spirit....

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DeCrow, Karen (18 December 1937–06 June 2014), feminist activist, author, and civil rights attorney, was born Karen Lipschultz in Chicago, the older of two daughters of businessman Samuel Meyer Lipschultz and Juliette Abt Lipschultz, a former professional ballet dancer. Educated in the city’s public schools, as a teenager she composed and submitted short stories to national magazines, and she pursued her interest in writing in college as well. She graduated from Sullivan High School in Chicago’s Rogers Park neighborhood in 1955 and received a bachelor’s degree from the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University in 1959....

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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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Dodd, Bella Visono ( October 1904–29 April 1969), teachers' union lobbyist and lawyer, teachers’ union lobbyist and lawyer, was born Maria Assunta Isabella Visono in Picerno, Italy, southeast of Naples, the daughter of Rocco Visono, a grocer, and Teresa Marsica. She was raised in the nearby village of Avialano by foster parents until she was old enough to join her family in New York City at the age of five. Her family moved several times and finally out of the tenements into a large house in Westchester left to her mother by two elderly women for whom she had worked. Determined to become “an American,” Bella excelled in school, rejected Catholicism, and, after World War I, avidly began reading newspapers....

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Eastman, Crystal (25 June 1881–08 July 1928), lawyer and social reformer, was born in Marlboro, Massachusetts, the daughter of Samuel Elijah Eastman and Annis Bertha Ford, both Congregational ministers. Her mother, ordained as one of the first women Congregational ministers in 1890, was a progressive thinker and eloquent speaker and had a great influence on her children. Eastman earned a bachelor’s degree from Vassar College (1903), a master’s degree in sociology from Columbia University (1904), and a doctorate from New York University Law School (1907)....

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Ferraro, Geraldine Anne (26 August 1935–26 March 2011), lawyer, U.S. congresswoman, and vice presidential candidate, was born in Newburgh, New York, to Dominick Ferraro, an Italian immigrant who owned a restaurant and a five-and-dime, and Antonetta L. Corrieri. Geraldine was eight years old when she witnessed her father’s unexpected death from a heart attack, and she often stated that it was the dividing line of her life. The death of Geraldine’s father left her family, which included an older brother, Carl, in reduced circumstances; her mother worked as a seamstress to make ends meet. They moved to the south Bronx and then to Queens....

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Ada Lois Sipuel Fisher Seated right, with J. E. Fellows, dean of admissions at the University of Oklahoma, seated left, and, standing left to right, Thurgood Marshall and Amos T. Hall, 1948. Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-USZ62-84479).

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Fisher, Ada Lois Sipuel (08 February 1924–18 October 1995), civil rights pioneer, lawyer, and educator, was born in Chickasha, Oklahoma, the daughter of Travis B. Sipuel, a minister and later bishop of the Church of Christ in God, one of the largest black Pentecostal churches in the United States, and Martha Bell Smith, the child of a former slave. Her parents moved to Chickasaw, Oklahoma, shortly after the Tulsa race riot of 1921....

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Foltz, Clara Shortridge (16 July 1849–02 September 1934), first woman lawyer on the Pacific Coast, suffrage leader, and founder of the public defender movement, was born in Lafayette, Indiana, the only daughter of Elias Shortridge and Talitha Harwood. Trained as a lawyer, Elias Shortridge turned instead to preaching among the Disciples of Christ and in 1860 became pastor to a well-established church in Mt. Pleasant, Iowa. For a few years, Clara attended the progressive Howe’s Academy until her father was expelled from his congregation for unorthodoxy. She then became a teacher herself in nearby Illinois before eloping—at the age of fifteen—with a handsome Union soldier, Jeremiah Foltz. During hard years on an Iowa farm, she bore four children....