Emma Madeen ’06

Wrote, “Montana Laws That Are of Peculiar Interest to Women” June 1926

23 October 1947 — Western News — “Funeral Rites Will Be Held Saturday in Missoula For Miss E. Madeen”

+++++“Miss Emma Madeen, Hamilton attorney for 37 years, died Monday night at Lincoln, Neb., word received by her former law partner, R. A. O’Hara, stated.  Miss Madeen retired from the law office in June and a few weeks afterward went to Lincoln where she planned to aid in caring for an older sister.
+++++Miss Madeen had served Ravalli County as its official attorney for one term; she was elected on the Republican ticket in 1930.  She served as city attorney resigning at the end of the last fiscal year.  She was a native of Leonardville, Kansas, and about 75 years of age.  She was a pioneer Nebraska school teacher and she left the profession to study law, graduating from the University of Nebraska law school in 1897.  She was a member of the American Bas [sic] Association and was Montana’s representative in its women’s legislative department the past two years.  Miss Madeen was considered by the Ravalli County Bar Association as an authority on women’s legislation in particular.  She was a familiar figure in the court room through the years as a member of the Ravalli County Bar Association.
+++++Relatives include her niece, Margaret Madeen, librarian at Montana State Normal at Dillon; the nephew, Murray Madeen of Butte and Austin, customs officer at Eastport, Ida.
+++++The body was shipped from Lincoln to Missoula where funeral services will be held Saturday afternoon at the Lucy Chapel. Burial will be made in the family plot beside the grave of her brother, the late Attorney, Charles Madeen.
+++++Pallbearers at the funeral will be Claude A. Johnson, Ralph Wanderer, V. C. Hollingsworth, Joseph Iten, Merrit Town and H. C. Packer.
+++++Miss Madeen is also survived by her sister, Mrs. Kate Williams, Lincoln, Nebr., and by three nephews there:  Hugh, Dean and Guy Williams, and by a nephew, Walter Gardner, in Missoula, as well as two nieces in California.”

Lisa R. Lindell, “‘Awake to all the needs of our day’:  Early Women Lawyers in South Dakota,” 42 South Dakota History 197, 208-209 (2012):

+++++“Born in August of 1870 in Riley County, Kansas, [Emma Madeen] was the daughter of Louis and Helen Madeen, who had emigrated from Sweden shortly before Emma’s birth. After graduating from high school in Crete, Nebraska, with the highest class standing, Madeen taught school and then entered the University of Nebraska Law College in Lincoln. ‘Miss Madeen,’ her class prophecy predicted, ‘will find her law of little value. She will marry and become the mother of a luxuriant family. She will be queen of a household rather than an advocate at the bar of an unfeeling court.’ The prophecy would prove wide of the mark. Upon graduating in 1897, she moved to Centerville, South Dakota, and entered practice with her brother Charles in the firm of Madeen & Madeen. ‘Young Lady Lawyer: The First in South Dakota,’ and ‘South Dakota’s First Lady Lawyer’ ran (inaccurate) regional newspaper headlines in July 1897. Madeen was formally admitted to the South Dakota bar on 5 October 1897 and practiced in Centerville until 1905. While there, she actively engaged in temperance work and attended state and national WCTU conventions.
+++++Madeen subsequently moved to Hamilton, Montana, where she spend the remainder of her career. Reflecting on the law as a vocation for women, Madeen recommended it as a good opportunity for those with an aptitude for the work, citing a relative lack of prejudice against women lawyers in the western states. In comparing the experience of male and female lawyers, however, she charged that the public was far more critical of women than men. ‘They question her ability,and she must demonstrate,’ Madeen observed. ‘There is more patience and forbearance with the efforts of a man. His mistakes are mistakes only, her mistakes little short of crimes.’
+++++Madeen knew the difficulties women encountered in their efforts to practice independently. Finding it unfeasible to ‘strike out on her own behalf,’ she always worked as a member of a firm. She described her job as consisting of probate work, consulting, drawing up pleadings, preparing cases for trial and briefs for appeal, and other work of a general practice. In the 1930s, Madeen served as attorney for Ravalli County, Montana, and, in the 1940s, as Hamilton city attorney. In 1946, she was appointed Montana director of the National Association of Women Lawyers. She died 20 October 1947 in Lincoln, Nebraska, shortly after her retirement.”

8 June 1910 — Western News — “Miss Madeen Scores in District Court; Secures Dismissal of Client on Point of Law”

+++++“Miss Emma Madeen, whom the court had appointed attorney for Robert O’Conner, charged with burglary, last Monday secured the dismissal of her client and caused Judge Myers, and all the attorneys to sit up and take notice by springing a supreme court decision that proved a clincher and of which all seemed to be in blissful ignorance.
+++++O’Conner was charged with burglary, the offence consisting of the theft of a pair of pants from a butcher shop at Stevensville. When the case came up for trial, after the jury had been selected and all the preliminaries cleared away, Attorney Madeen arose and quietly asked that the case against O’Conner be dismissed on the ground that he could not be guilty of the crime charged — there having been no trespass in the premises. In support of her contention she cited a Montana supreme court decision that holds, in a similar case, that the public is privileged to enter any public place of business during business hours and that trespass is a condition precedent to burglary. At most the accused could only be convicted of larceny. The court sustained the point and the case against O’Conner was dismissed. In the case of State vs. James Murphy, charged with burglary, a similar case, the court instructed the jury to return a verdict of acquittal.”

12 April 1911 — Daily Missoulian

+++++“Miss Emma Madeen, formerly the junior member of the firm of Madeen & Madeen in this city, now of the firm of Baker & Madeen in Hamilton, was a visitor in Missoula yesterday. Miss Madeen is a graduate of the law department of the university of Nebraska and she has practiced in her profession for 12 years. Her part of the work is usually to draw the pleadings in the office, but when occasion demands Miss Madeen does not hesitate to plead the case in court.”

4 January 1918 — Ravalli Republic

+++++“Miss Emma Madeen — While I firmly believe in equal suffrage I have decided to discourage women from trying to hog all the fat jobs in the county next election. The men must live somehow and it tickles their vanity to be elected to office. Not being a farmer, I shall not join the non-partisan party. As for Jeannette Rankin — well, I’m not so sure.”

11 July 1920 — Independent Record — “Woman Lawyer to Run for District Bench”

+++++“For the first time in the history of Montana a woman is to be a candidate for the office of judge. Emma Madeen of Hamilton has filed with the secretary of state her declaration of intention to become a candidate for the office in the Fourth district on the republican ticket. . . .”

23 July 1920 — Ravalli Republic — Canditates’ [sic] Announcements

For District Judge — “I hereby announce that I am a candidate for nomination, on the Republican ticket, to the office of judge of the Fourth Judicial District of the State of Montana.  If I am nominated I will not withdraw, and if elected I will qualify for the office.
+++++I am a graduate of the law school of Nebraska; I practiced law at Centerville, South Dakota, for eight years; as a member of the firm of Baker & Madeen, and O’Hara & Madeen I have been engaged in the practice of law at Hamilton, Montana, since 1909.
+++++So far as I know, no woman has ever before aspired to the bench in a court of general jurisdiction in the State of Montana, or elsewhere; but with women constantly appearing before the court, both as attorneys and as litigants, their representation on the bench is logical and inevitable.  All I ask is that you will not allow the innovation to prejudice you against my candidacy, but will give the same fair and impartial consideration.    Paid adv.  (Miss) Emma Madeen.”

In the race for the Fourth district on the Republication ticket, Emma Madeen received 1,465 votes; George T. Baggs received 1,890 votes; T. Lentz received 2,797 votes; and F. C. Webster received 2,374 votes. In the race for the Democratic ticket, Albert Besancon received 3,073 votes; Asa L. Duncan received 3,490 votes; and R. Lee McCulloch received 3,088 votes.

3 April 1946 — Independent Record — “Miss Madeen Honored”

+++++“Miss Emma Madeen, Hamilton city attorney, has been appointed Montana director of the National Association of Women Lawyers.  Miss Madeen, formerly Ravalli county attorney, has practice law 38 years in Montana.”


+++++14 August 1870, near Leonardville, Kansas


+++++Lewis Madeen and Helen Madeen


+++++1 older brother, Charles


+++++Taught in Nebraska schools for seven years

Legal Education:

+++++LL.B., College of Law, University of Nebraska, 1897

Admission to Practice:

  • Nebraska 1897
  • South Dakota 1897
  • Montana 1906

Law Practice:

  • Hamilton, Montana
  • Attorney for Ravalli County (1930s)
  • City Attorney, Hamilton (1940s)


+++++21 October 1947

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