Women & Law School

8 November 1870 — Atchison Daily Patriot

+++++“From all quarters of the country the inevitable woman forces herself upon our notice. At Rockford, Illinois, which by the way is one of the most beautiful little cities in all the West, a female law student came within the bar of the court on the 22nd of October. The effect upon the male lawyers was remarkable. Boots disappeared from mid air, and went to their proper place upon the floor. Uncouth attitudes were dispensed with, and more than ordinary attention was bestowed upon personal appearance.”

10 November 1885 — Boston Weekly Globe

“A FEMALE LAW STUDENT — Causes the Faculty of Yale College to Become Stirred Up”
+++++“A few weeks ago the country was somewhat astonished to hear that a young lady had been admitted to full membership in the Yale law school. The true inwardness and the unpleasant results of this innovation have never been published. It has now leaked out, however, from reliable sources, that considerable bad blood was stirred up by the affair. President Porter, when he heard of the admission of the fair one, was exceeding wroth, and at once took steps to have the admission papers cancelled. He was promptly met by steady opposition from the Law school faculty. At a meeting of the fellows the matter was at once brought up, no delay being allowed by the indignant president. The matter was argued pro and con. Dean Wayland of the law school was summoned before the august assembly and required to explain himself. He said that the law of the school read that any one should be admitted who passed a satisfactory examination. This the young lady had done, and a certificate could not be withheld. High words followed, and the president claimed that the law had been misinterpreted, it never having been intended that the school should be open to women. After a rather stormy debate, the matter was compromised by allowing the woman to remain, but not allowing her name to appear in the catalogue, together with the understanding that no such privileges should be granted hereafter without a change in the law.

27 May 1886 — Chicago Daily Tribune

+++++“Miss Alice Jordan, the young lady student in the Yale Law School, will not be able to obtain the degree of bachelor of law from the university upon her graduation next month. Prof. Dexter, being asked, said the matter had not even been considered by the corporation, and added: ‘The corporation has never granted a degree to a woman, and I don’t think it ever will.'”

For more on Alice Jordan, including a photo, see https://yalealumnimagazine.com/articles/3742/yales-first-female-graduate.

6 November 1890 — Rushville Republican

“The Law School for Women Established by Mme. Kempin”
+++++“Two societies having for their object the instruction of women in the law have been organized in this city during the past year. The first of these, under the name of the Women’s Law School association, was formed by Mme. Emily Kempin, LL. D., a graduate of the Zurich university. Previous to her arrival on these shores women in this part of the county manifested no inclination toward law. The opportunities afforded by colleges making no distinction of sex for the study of law were seldom improved. Cornell university and Buffalo Law School show no feminine names on their lists. Neither have any women applied for admission to the bar in this state since that privilege was accorded by an act of the legislature passed four years ago.
+++++The first woman’s law school grew out of Mme. Kempin’s own experience at Columbia college. On her arrival in New York ten years ago she applied for admission into that law school. This raised the question of admitting women. It had never before been presented, and created a great stir among the authorities. Pending their decision, which, after three months’ deliberation, was adverse, the lady was permitted to attend lectures and managed to learn a great deal of law in that institution.
+++++The second association, which, by the way, will probably combine with or absorb the first, is called the Legal Education society. Its object is to maintain a woman’s law class at the University of the City of New York, beginning its first course this autumn.
+++++Mme. Kempin, who is named for the professorship, was tendered the same honor by the University of Zurich, where she received her degree after graduating with exceptional honors. She is said to be thoroughly versed in international law, and an earnest of her qualifications is given by the fact that she is the counsel of the Swiss legation in Washington and has much foreign litigation entrusted to her. She is also superintendent of the New York Arbitration society.
+++++Mme. Kempin is the wife of a Presbyterian minister and the mother of several children. Apparently her age is somewhere in the early thirties. — New York World.”

13 December 1891 — The Sun

+++++“A woman lawyer has been writing some of the peculiar experiences of the woman student of law in an office or school. The most amusing of the awkward situations is in the dilemma of the lecturers as to a fitting mode of address. Usually they gaze around anxiously and, fixing their eyes upon the one or two women students, stammer out, ‘Gentlemen.’ One courtroom professor, however, prepared his remarks with ‘Lady and gentlemen.’ The lady’s presence in the lecture hall is invariably refining. If the upraised masculine feet do not come down immediately and voluntarily from the window sill or table top they are summarily assisted to the floor by the hands of some fellow-student. Some men objecting to the presence of women in the school manifest their disapproval in rude discourtesy, but the majority are courteous and respectful, and the woman is treated as an equal except that the men assist her in the placing of her chair or the recovery of anything she loses or lets fall more than they do their male colleagues.”

30 November 1896 — Evening Times

“Law School Started For Women Students
+++++Mrs. Ellen Spencer Mussey & Miss Gillett are the Principals.
Found It Necessary to Do So Because Regular Colleges Refuse Admission to Weaker Sex?”
+++++“Women are admitted to practice before all the courts of the District of Columbia; the Supreme Court of the United States, and the executive departments, but they are denied admission to such law schools of the District as confine their membership to white persons.
+++++One university — the National — was originally chartered to give ‘young men and young ladies’ the same advantages of collegiate and professional education, but, nevertheless, women are arbitrarily refused admission to the law department.
+++++Each year bright women have applied to different schools, and have been quietly refused. In response to numerous requests by educators, . . . Mrs. Ellen Spencer Mussey and Miss E. M. Gillett, the well-known lawyers of the District consented to open a class for women. It began its session February 1 of last year with three ladies and one gentleman.
+++++The first woman student to be enrolled was a graduate of Wellesley and a daughter of a man of world-wide reputation. The second is a native of Scotland and a well-known business woman of Washington. The third came to the National Capital last winter for the first time, with an invalid husband, having been prior to her marriage a lecturer of note.
+++++There are others, all of whom are entered to take the full three years’ course, beginning with Blackstone and including all instruction covered by the law schools for men. They are earnest students and make excellent records which are in no degree behind the records made by the male students in the various schools.
+++++The instructors of the Woman’s Law Class are arranging for a course of law lectures which will begin the first of the year. This is the only woman’s law class in existence, but though unique in idea it is doing good work and its members will no doubt acquit themselves with credit in bar examinations as lawyers, business women or as leaders in society and public life.”

3 April 1898

“Washington College of Law”
+++++“The Washington College of Law, an institution with ‘aims to provide such a legal education for women as will enable them to practice the legal profession,’ was incorporated yesterday . . . . The college will be located in this city and will have at least three professorships.”

12 May 1900 — New York Tribune

“Women as Lawyers” — Mrs. Pettus’s Paper Read Before the Social Science Ass’n”
+++++“. . . What then are the provisions for their [women] obtaining such education in law as will suffice for their new opportunities? . . . . Oberlin, in 1833, was the first to open her doors to women students, but the earliest dates accessible in the field of law are that Iowa University admitted them in 1868, Michigan in 1869, Boston Law School in 1872, California in 1873, Missouri and Illinois in 1880, and other States in quick succession, while in our great Western States the law schools from their foundation have been open to women students. In the Empire State, Cornell led the way in 1888, but New York University followed in 1890 and has graduated fifty women with the degree of Bachelor of Laws, ten of whom have taken later the Master’s degree. Illinois has the largest roll of names of women admitted to her bar, for eighty-seven women lawyers have come from that State.
+++++Even in the more conservative Southern States the way has opened — four States admit them to the bar and to the law schools. A woman, Mrs. Haskell, of Helena, Mont., secured the passage of a law in that State, in 1889, permitting women to practice law.”

15 August 1902 — Oregon Daily Journal

“Women in Law School”
+++++“”The Columbia Law School has within the year thrown open its doors to women after persistently keeping them closed for years. At a recent meeting Belva Lockwood, in introducing Mrs. Bailey, said: In her you see the first woman admitted to the Columbia Law school. In me you see the first woman rejected.”

24 May 1907 — Brooklyn Daily Eaglemussey

“Dean of Law School.
+++++“Most notable of all American Portias is Mrs. Ellen Spencer Mussey, dean of the Columbian Law School, Washington, D. C., who combines legal astuteness with womanly virtues and graces. Mrs. Mussey is one of the few women entitled to practice before the Supreme Court of the United States and what is better still she has the clients to give her occasion to very frequently appear before that august tribunal.
+++++Mrs. Mussey believes that one obligation of knowledge is to impart it to others, and so she has inaugurated the promising school of law which is unique in the history of law schools, in that it is primarily founded for the legal instruction of women. This year the graduating class includes four women and a like number of men.
+++++Mrs. Mussey was born in Ohio, and her father was Platt R. Spencer, founder of the Spencerian system of penmanship. In Washington, Mrs. Mussey is counsel for several legations, has secured bills making married women capable of conducting their own business affairs and was one of the founders of the American Red Cross Society. For several years she was the head of the D. A. R. in the District of Columbia, and succeeded in being elected vice president general from the District when the plan had failed with others for six consecutive years.”

23 October 1909 — Washington Post

“Law School Bars Woman: Action of Harvard Authorities Brings Criticism from Mrs. Pankhurst”
+++++“Officials at the Harvard Law School today admitted that Miss Inez Milholland, the Vassar girl girl graduate and woman suffrage leader, had applied for admission to the law school and had been refused. She was denied admission solely on the ground that she is a woman and the belief by the Harvard officials that men and women should not study together. Mrs. Emmaline Pankhurst, in Boston, declared that Miss Milholland’s treatment at Harvard shows the need of political equality for women. She said:
+++++‘An American woman refused admission to and American university because she is a woman — there is the example! Thits shows the need of political equality. No doubt if we had that such a thing could not possibly happen.
+++++‘We realize that keenly in England, and we concentrate all our energies in trying to get a parliamentary vote to enable women to get equal rights with men. My daughter was admitted to a law university. She was one out of 40 to pass all examinations in the first division. In the final examinations she was one of three to pass, the other two being men, but she was not allowed to practice law because she was a woman.
+++++‘Now women have brains as well as men. Why shouldn’t they be given equal rights?’
+++++Opposition to militant methods was expressed by Miss Alice Stone Blackwell in an address accepting the presidency of the Massachusetts Woman Suffrage Association today.”

16 April 1915 — Wilmington Dispatch

“Plan Women’s Law School. Radcliffe May Establish Course Exclusively for Girls”
+++++“Many Radcliffe girls, dissatisfied with the response of Harvard Law School authorities to their request for admission to that institution, are urging the establishment at Radcliffe of a law school which will give instruction to women who are graduates of Radcliffe and other colleges.
+++++Radcliffe seniors plan to carry on their study of law in some other institutions where legal training is not restricted to men as at Harvard.  One group contemplates entering Chicago University Law School next fall, and others Boston University Law School.”

2 July 1911 — New York Tribune

“Woman and the Law — Older Institutions of Learning Still Exclude the Fair Sex from Legal Courses.”
+++++“Next Wednesday, for the second time in history, the doors of Columbia Law School will be opened to women.  New York University has long welcomed them to its Law School, and large numbers of the sex have availed themselves of the privileges it offers.  Co-educational institutions, of course, like Cornell, Boston University and the state universities in general, admit women to the law schools on an equality with men. But Columbia, like Harvard, Yale, the University of Virginia and the older institutions of learning generally, still adheres, in winter, to the tradition that law is primarily the concern of men. In summer, however, when most people find it hard to live up to their traditions, Columbia relaxes, too, and opens the doors of its Law School to women.  The courses are precisely the same as those of the regular school and are given either by the same men or by equally eminent authorities from other law schools, and persons who are interested in the further progress of women along this line regard them as an opening wedge.  If women can take their courses in summer, why not also in winter? they ask.
+++++The reasons alleged for their conservatism by those institutions of learning which still refuse to provide for the legal education of women, although they have weakened at other points, are various and not shared by all the professors of the forbidden schools.  Even some of those who personally would rather not see the women around being so influenced by tradition as to feel a certain incongruity in their presence — maintain that their exclusion is unjust and cannot continue.
+++++Professor George W. Kirchway, of the faculty of the Columbia Law School and until recently its dean, is one of those who can see no reason why women should be forbidden to study law.
+++++‘In view of the fact that women are eligible for admission to the bar, it would seem in the interests of the state as well as in justice to themselves, that the best of professional opportunities should be open to them,’ he said to a Tribune reporter.
+++++Professor Kirchway’s personal experience with women law students has been slight, but highly favorable.
+++++‘At the last summer session,’ he said, ‘I had three or four women in each of two classes containing about twenty men. Only two of the women took examinations, but both of these took exceptionally high rank, and one of them passed the best examination in both of the subjects given by me of any member of the class.’
+++++Professor Nathan Abbott, also of the Columbia Law School, is another friend of the woman who wants to study law.  He is not, he confessed, in favor of the ‘so-called higher education of women,’ but he has ‘never been able to understand why women are not admitted to the Columbia and Harvard law schools.’
+++++‘Whatever I may say about women studying law,’ he continued, ‘is based on my own personal experience and does not necessarily represent the opinions of my colleagues.
+++++‘So far as I have heard, the principal objection to the admission of women students in the Eastern law schools is the disturbing effect their presence is said to have on the rest of the class.  It sometimes is said that they are not qualified to study law.  Perhaps a third reason exists for their exclusion from the Law School of Harvard. The policy of that university may be opposed to coeducation except in so far as it can be carried on in an institution that is a co-ordinate but not an organic part of the institution, such as Radcliffe.
+++++‘That may be justifiable, but in my judgment cannot be where the allied institution does not provide instruction in the law.  The third objection, then, is not a general objection such as the first two I have mentioned.
+++++‘With reference to these two objections I feel that I can speak with some confidence because I have been a student in a class in which there was a young woman and I have taught classes in which there were women. Before I give some facts from my experience I think I ought to say that a rather extended acquaintance with coeducational institutions has not changed my opinion that so far as college work is concerned coeducation is not a success, but so far as work goes in the professional schools, and work which is necessary in our graduate schools for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy, I decidedly believe that the presence of women in the classes has a distinctly stimulating influence.
+++++‘In 1878 I was a member of a class in the Boston University in which Mrs. Lelia Robinson, the first woman, I believe, to study law in any American university, was a student.  She was one of the best in the class, and had the respect of all — I speak of her because it is ordinarily said that men students are disturbed by having women in the class.  Her petition for admission to the bar in Massachusetts was denied, but later she got a bill through the Legislature and was allowed to practise, being the first woman lawyer of Massachusetts.
+++++‘It was during the year of 1891, [I was] a member of the faculty of the Law School of Michigan and there were several women studying law there. They had an excellent record for scholarship.  One of them was remarkably brilliant, and afterward was of material service in her father’s office.  The others married lawyers.  None of them had any disturbing effect upon the schools.
+++++‘In 1892 I was at Northwestern University, where there were several women law students.  Here, again, all had good records for scholarship.  During that time a prize was offered to be competed for by all the law students in this country.  The many competitors submitted essays. The first prize was taken by a young man in one of our Eastern law schools, and the second was taken by a young woman in the Northwestern University Law School.  Shortly after the prizes were awarded it was discovered that the young man who took the first prize submitted for his essay an article which he had copied out of an old magazine. The prize was taken away from him and given to the young woman.  She graduated with honor and was appointed to an important clerical position in the Probate Court of Chicago, where she gave great satisfaction.
+++++‘For twelve years in the Law School of Leland Stanford University I saw quite a large number of women students.  I think, as a whole, they maintained a higher average of scholarship than the young men, but only a few completed the course, for they did not have the physical strength to continue to the end.
+++++‘From time to time at the University of Chicago I have seen young women students.  They were universally successful, and I am informed that a woman led the first class which graduated from the Chicago Law School.  She was a highly respected member of the faculty of economics in that institution.
+++++‘Is it desirable that women should study law?’ asked the reporter.
+++++‘For professional purposes, no, ‘ answered Professor Abbott.  ‘Of course, most young women do take up the study of law for this reason, although some are belligerent and expect to use their knowledge as a weapon of reform. Personally, I think that a decided mistake. It is hard enough for a man to make a living by the practice of law, and women labor under two disadvantages. They do not have the strength that is required, and men do not care to consult them, while women do not usually have confidence in them.  So far as I have observed, in the so-called strict practice of the law, they cannot be said to be successful. I have known a large number of women lawyers. I do not know one who has made a living as a practicing lawyer.’
+++++This conclusion, by the way, is not borne out by the testimony of women lawyers.  Some said, when interrogated upon the subject, that they made considerably more than a living and were doing better than the average man lawyer.
+++++There were many uses, however, to which legal training may be put other than that of earning a living, and Professor Abbott went on to enumerate some that particularly concern women.
+++++‘The status of women,’ he said, ‘is liable to change, and perhaps the greatest change will be in the modification of the marriage state.  Probably the political status will be made to conform practically with that of men, and perhaps women will have a hand in law-making. They ought to have the best possible equipment. To have that they should have free access to the best possible schools.  Half a legal education, or a poor legal education, for a woman charged with political duties is a mistake.  She should have the best, which is none too good.’
+++++‘Again, there are courses in most of our young women’s colleges which deal directly with constitutional law and constitutional history, and a considerable number of other courses, such as those dealing with economics, transportation, sociology and history, which for the best teaching require a considerable knowledge of substantive and especially of statute law.  A good teacher of history must have a fair knowledge of statute law and an ability to deal with legal material, which can be best acquired, if not acquired alone, in a law school.  In my judgment a law school which refuses to give young women who propose to teach the best possible equipment is violating a public trust, and for that reason alone I think our law schools should be open to women.
+++++‘Again, I do not know of any topic that is more broadening and enlightening than the study of law, nor one which tends to make a person more sympathetic in his judgment of others.  I am inclined to think that in an educational way the study of law by young women would prove quite wholesome.
+++++‘In conclusion, I feel justified in saying that women, as a rule, are excellent law students, and that as regards the much discussed question of their influence in the classroom it is neither positive nor negative. That is a matter of the individual and not of sex.’
+++++Professor Ralph W. Gifford, pro-dean and professor in the Fordham University Law School, who was present during the interview with Professor Abbott, did not sympathize with many of the views expressed.  He, too, has had considerable experience in the education of women, having been for four years connected with girls’ private schools and for two of these years was principal of a girls’ seminary; and his observations having led him to the conclusion that after they have passed the years of childhood the education of the sexes is best carried on separately.
+++++As regards the study of law, Professor Gifford does not think that the female mind has any special aptitude for it, though he has seen individual women do excellent work as law students.
+++++‘The whole law is masculine in its quality,’ he argued, ‘and deals with strong and direct rules, which have to be enforced, often regardless of sentimental qualities. Where both sexes are present the women cast a certain feminizing influence over the recitation room, in consequence of which the force and virility of the arguments and illustrations are likely to be lessened.  Subconsciously, whether they wish it or not, the minds of the teacher and the male students are thinking not only of the thought which they wish to impart, but of whether they are putting that thought and truth in a way that is suitable for women to hear.
+++++‘In the study of criminal law topics arise which are the subject of the greatest embarrassment when treated in a mixed class. The effect of such subjects on the women is that they frequently skip those recitations.
+++++‘If women are to be educated in law for purposes of citizenship, the best way is to select those portions of the law which have most to do with the training of citizens as such.
+++++‘In my opinion, it would be the greatest misfortune to the law schools of this country to do anything to lessen the masculine strength and virility of the atmosphere that now surrounds them.  Most of the youthful training of our students is already given by women teachers.  Certainly, in the law there is no need of feminine influence as an educational force.
+++++‘The result of permitting women to come into the law schools would be to injure the law schools as a means of training men, merely to give comparatively few women a chance to secure training in a profession in which there is no future for them whatsoever.'”

20 January 1912 — Ogden Standard

“Los Angeles Has Law School for Women”
+++++“A woman’s law school which will be devoted to the fitting of young women for the bar, has been founded by Mrs. Clara Shortridge Foltz, Los Angeles’ pioneer woman lawyer. Registration for the first semester of the freshman year began today.
+++++Mrs. Foltz has been teaching a class of women law students in her offices for the last two years.”

22 March 1919 — Winnipeg Tribune

“Co-Eds Insulted by Men Students of Law School
Embryo Women Blackstones Accept Invitation to Smoker to Own Regret”
+++++“Gossip is busy on the University of Chicago campus. Three jokes, ‘pulled’ by a senior at a smoker of the law college, which sent a company of blushing young co-eds from a merry gathering of students and called down the wrath of the dean, caused it.
+++++The story dates back to resentment by some of the law students of the presence of co-eds in the school.
+++++There are about 14 young women in the law school, about a third more than last year. Increasing numbers of the women students have caused some of the students of the opposite sex to wonder whether the ‘petticoat’ element would not mean a lopping off of some of their privileges — for instance, smoking in a room in the basement.
+++++It has been no secret, therefore, that many of the young men ‘just tolerated’ the feminine in the school. On the other hand, some of them sided with the co-eds, and because of this the young women were permitted to attend the annual smoker in Reynolds club.
+++++Nine accepted the invitation, and the word was passed about that because of their attendance it would be a ‘tame affair.’
+++++But when the story telling started one of the young men told three ‘war jokes,’ each a little ‘hotter’ than the one before. Some of the young women did not wait for the finish.
+++++The first joke told, students who attended the smoker said, was responsible for the exit of the young women, one of whom was Miss Susan Brandeis, daughter of Justice Brandeis of the United States Supreme Court.
+++++Prof. Ernest Freund was slated to make a speech, but he didn’t. Instead he brought the smoker to an end with a brief statement on upholding the traditions of the university.”

10 October 1919 — Oakland Tribune

“Co-Eds Decline to Dine with Men; Girl Law Students Give Reasons”
+++++“The men of the law association of the University of California are peeved because the co-eds refuse to dine with them at the annual banquet. An invitation to the Portias was sent, couched in the most gracious language, prepared by authorities who had delved into the precedents and who were sure they were saying it right. But the co-eds said ‘Nothing doing.’
+++++The women of the university have much to talk over, ’tis said, and prefer to talk alone. Also they say the affairs put on by the men are too tame and inanimate. The women have their own way of doing a law dinner and that way is spoiled if the men are there.
+++++The men will hold a sort of consolation party at the Hotel Oakland tomorrow night. And on the theory that if it is not good for men to dine alone, it is said they are going to become reckless and have present as care dispellers some real wonders from wonderland, women who may make up in pulchritude for what they have failed to learn in law school.”

21 December 1919 — Oakland Tribune

“Girl Law Students Will Upset Custom”
+++++“University of Washington, Seattle.   Eleven members of the fair sex have enrolled in the law college at the university this year, which surpasses all previous records.
+++++Not only have they been accepted as members in good standing into a course generally supposed to be for men, but they are already proclaiming their rights and state that the usual all men’s law mixer will be replaced this year by some form of milder entertainment, such as a tea or a knitting bee.”

30 October 1925 — Macon Chronicle-Herald

“Woman Starts Law School for Women:  Wants to Inform Sex in Plain Everyday Language”farrowtiera
+++++“Because her friends were continually asking her legal questions in connection with their private or business life, Miss Tiera Farrow has founded a school of law for women here, the second school of its kind to be established in the United States.
+++++It is Miss Farrow’s idea to present legal subjects in ‘plain, everyday understandable language,’ and she will hold an informal opening Monday night.  Miss Farrow, who will be dean of the school, is a practicing attorney, has been graduated from three law schools, holds the degrees of LL. B., A.B., and M.A. and is the first woman lawyer to try a criminal case in Kansas City.
+++++It was while lunching with her friends, who kept continually firing questions at her, that Miss Farrow hit upon the idea of establishing a law school for women.  She explains:  ‘I realized there was no place a woman could take a short course in law.’ The school is an attempt to meet the informational needs of women in regard to legal questions.
+++++Miss Farrow’s brief course will cover ten legal subjects, each subject consisting of six lectures. She also plans afternoon lectures for clubs which wish them.
+++++‘Law is interesting and fascinating and I intend to make the course not too technical,’ she said ‘and also to educate women into realizing that lawyers are not “crooks” as is so often believed.'”