“Advice on Santa” from Emily Sloan

“To the Editor:
+++++Now is the time, right after Thanksgiving, that the second graders will be informing the first graders that Santa Claus isn’t real, and the mothers of the first graders are wondering how they are going to soothe the disappointment of those little tots. Here’s what I did many long years ago. My 7-year-old son came in quite excited and gave me a little envelop on which was written Santa Claus, and all excited he told me, ‘Our teacher had us write a letter to Santa Claus, but some of the boys said there isn’t any Santa Claus, but I thought I’d take a long shot at it, anyway. She said our mothers would know where to send the letters.’ He looked so happy I didn’t disillusion him but told him of course I’d see that the letter was sent to the right place.
+++++Then in came his 9-year-old sister all excited with, ‘Mama, the kids say there isn’t any Santa Claus. What is all this Santa Claus business , anyway?’ Right then I sent up a silent prayer that I would say the right thing, and I answered in substance if not in these exact words, ‘Santa Claus is that good spirit in all of us that makes us want to give something special to those we love, and not let anybody know about it, so we say Santa Claus,’
+++++‘Oh, something like fairies, make-believe?’ she asked, her eyes dancing.
+++++‘That’s it,’ I told her.
+++++‘Then we can all be Santa Claus,’ she said.
+++++I’ve never seen a happier child.
+++++She had less than a dollar to spend, but she was all mystery and excitement, and not only did she have a merry Christmas but a joyous time preparing for the happy surprises for us all. How was it they had been so long learning about the Santa mystery? That was their first year in town school. They had lived on a bleak homestead and had very little contact with other children, even in summer time, and none in winter.”
–Emily E. Sloan
Tacoma Daily Ledger
29 November 1956

“Dubious Consent”

6 September 1961 — The Missoulian — “Dubious Consent”

+++++“In an admirable if somewhat reluctant demonstration of advanced thinking the University of Montana Law School admitted its first woman student in 1912, two years before the adoption of the amendment to the Montana Constitution giving women the vote.
+++++Bernice Selfridge (now Mrs. Bernice Selfridge Forbes) had not completed her pre-legal work and so was not included in the 1912 registration of 21 students, but she was allowed to take two law classes. It is recorded that this concession was made ‘with the dubious consent of the law faculty.’ Miss Selfridge, incidentally, was a member of the Campus Equal Suffrage Club.
+++++By 1915-16 there were four women enrolled, and for 40 years thereafter — until the fall of 1957 — there were only two years in which no women were registered.
+++++The Law School has graduated 28 women, including such pioneers of their sex as Geraldine O’Hara Grant, ’26 (now Mrs. Geraldine O’Hara MacDonald), Hamilton city attorney from 1929-1934, and Opal Louise Replogle, ’46 (now Mrs. Wellington D. Rankin), Fergus County attorney in 1947. Mrs. Rankin is thought to be the first woman to hold the office of county attorney in Montana. [Two women served earlier as county attorneys in Montana — Emily E. Sloan and Frances Elge.]
+++++Six of the 28 women married Law School alumni and three of these are practicing law in partnership with their husbands.
+++++A further letting down of the barristers’ bars came in 1946. That year the Law School Association voted to admit the five women then enrolled to that male sanctum sanctorum, the association’s smoker.
+++++Another woman, Miss Charlotte Russel, figures prominently in the annals of the Law School. Miss Russel, known to generations of law students as ‘the chief,’ served as law librarian from 1926 until her retirement in 1951. After Miss Russel died in 1957, many former students joined her sister in establishing a Charlotte Russel Memorial Fund to help deserving law freshman.”

Grandma Sloan is Lawyer Now

Mineral Independent — 24 July 1919
“Youthful Grandmother Recently Admitted to Bar is a Real Live Wire”

+++++“Montana’s first grandma-lawyer is some rustler.
+++++She breezed into the state capitol the other day to be admitted to practice at the state bar, preliminary to settling in this state, probably at Hardin, in Big Horn county.
+++++She is the first grandmother, ever admitted to the bar in this state, but let none presume that she is sere and yellow, for a hustling, vivacious beauty, is Grandma, who might pass for 32 years old, although she says she is forty — says so proudly and dares you to believe it.
+++++The woman is Mrs. Emily E. Sloan, recently of Belle Fourche, S.D.
+++++She is a grandma at forty because she married when 16 years old. She has four children, two of whom are married daughters with three children.
+++++The elder Sloans are ranchers in the Black Hills. Grandma says they had their battle with adversity, now happily over. The family can take care of itself, she says, and she is setting out to begin all over again in a new career.
+++++Mrs. Sloan was born in the woods in Wisconsin. At the time of her marriage she removed to the Black Hills in South Dakota. Her husband rode the range as a cowboy. He finally earned a ranch and the busy little wife engaged in doing the work about the farmhouse and raising four children.
+++++‘My father was admitted to the bar after he was 50 years old,’ she says proudly.
+++++Two years ago she came to the University of Montana at Missoula to complete her law course. She has just passed the state examination and been admitted to the bar.
+++++Grandma is the livest wire that has passed through Helena in some moons, say the state capitol attaches.”

Emily Sloan was elected Montana’s first female county attorney in 1924, serving Carbon County in 1925 and 1926. She moved from Red Lodge to Billings in 1927 and practiced there until about 1940. Her legal career was filled with adventures and adversity. I remain dedicated to sharing her story.