Women’s Legal History Biography Project Bibliography

Compiled by J. Paul Lomio

This is a bibliography of books and articles dealing with women’s legal history. Several of the books contain chapters on women who are also the focus of original biographies contained within this Website; in these instances there are links to our content.

I. Books

Abramson, Jill and Barbara Franklin
Where they are now: the story of the women of Harvard Law 1974
Garden City, N.Y.: Doubleday, 1986, 323 p.

This is a study of the 71 women in the Harvard Law School class of 1974 by two staff reporters for The American Lawyer. The book includes a statistical profile for each woman in this class and offers a snapshot of their lives a decade after law school. These women are not considered pioneers but they are seen, by the authors, as being “in the vanguard of” a revolution, a revolution spurred on by the burgeoning women’s movement as these women, just 12% of the first year class, sought to enter a challenging profession at a
“most challenging proving ground.”

Atwood, Barbara Ann
A Courtroom of Her Own: The Life and Work of Judge Mary Anne Richey
Durham, N.C.: Carolina Academic Press, 1998, 361 pages

This book tells the story of Mary Anne Richey, a pilot in the Women Air Service Patrol, the lone female in her 1951 graduating class at the University of Arizona law school, prosecutor, state court judge and federal district court judge. Judge Richey was Gerald Ford’s only woman appointment; she was appointed to the bench in 1976 and held this position until her death in 1983.

In this book the author purports to “portray the complexity, exuberance, and sheer power of Mary Anne’s personality” and suggests “ways in which her ambitions, sympathies, and ‘hard edges’ may have been influenced by the forces of her childhood and young adulthood. As a close-up look at a woman who balanced, often uneasily, the divergent demands of being a wife, a mother, and a pathbreaker in law, this book is intended to advance our understanding of not only ‘early’ women lawyers and judges, but also of women professionals generally.”

Anderson, Paul
Janet Reno: doing the right thing
New York: Wiley, 1994, 328 pages

Babcock, Barbara Allen
Woman lawyer : the trials of Clara Foltz
Stanford University Press, 2011, 370 pages

Contents: Becoming a lawyer, 1878-1880 — Making a living, 1880-1890 — Moving on a larger stage, 1890-1895 — Changing locations, 1895-1911 : New York, Denver, San Francisco, Los Angeles — Clara Foltz as public thinker — Working for political equality — Inventing the public defender — Conclusion : victory roses.

Basch, Norma
In the eyes of the law: women, marriage and property in nineteenth century
New York
Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1982, 255 p.

Baxandall, Rosalyn Fraad and Linda Gordon with Susan Reverby
America’s working women: a documentary history, 1600 to present
New York: W.W. Norton, 1995, 356 p.

Berkman, Ted (Edward O. Berkman)
The Lady and the law: the remarkable life of Fanny Holtzmann
Boston: Little, Brown, 1976, 403 pages.

Berry, Dawn Bradley
The 50 most influential women in American Law
Los Angeles: Contemporary Books, 1996, 354 p.

This book profiles the achievements of fifty women who had a positive, lasting effect on the legal landscape of our country – its laws, legislative priorities, and system of justice. Their work has spanned several hundred years – from “Gentleman” Margaret Brent, the first female attorney in colonial America, to Marcia Clark. The fifty are: Margaret Brent; Arabella Babb Mansfield; Elizabeth Ware Packard; Belva; Myra Colby Bradwell; Clara Shortridge Foltz; Laura De Force Gordon; Lyda Burton Conley; Esther McQuigg Morris; Lemma Barkeloo; Charlotte E. Ray; Mary Gysin Leonard; Mary Clyens Lease; Ellen Spencer Mussey; Lettie Burlingame; Tiera Farrow; Crystal Eastman; Florence Ellinwood
Allen; Dorothy Kenyon; Mabel Walker Willebrandt; Carol Weiss King; Margaret
Chase Smith; Eunice Hunton Carter; Fanny Holtzmann; Rachel Carson; Gladys Towles Root; Rosa Parks; Cecelia Goetz; Soia Mentschikoff; Florynce Kennedy; Ruth Harvey Charity; Constance Baker Motley; Shirley Chisholm; Sandra Day O’Connor; Ruth Bader Ginsburg; Gloria Steinem; Geraldine A. Ferraro; Barbara Jordan; Rose Elizabeth Bird; Janet Reno; Marian Wright Edelman; Arlene Violet; Patricia Schroeder; Sarah Ragle Weddington; Harriet Rabb; Antonia Hernandez; Hillary Rodham Clinton; Linda Fairstein; Nancy J. Mintie; Marcia Clark.

Brackman, Barbara, Feighny, Mary Droll and Camille Nohe
Journeys on the Road Less Travelled: Kansas Women Attorneys
Topeka, Kansas: Women Attorneys Association of Topeka, 1998, 91 pages.

Brown, Dorothy M. (Dorothy Marie)
Mabel Walker Willebrandt: a study of power, loyalty and law
Knoxville: University of Kentucky Press, 1984, 328 pages

Excellent biography of the first woman to be an Assistant Attorney General
(1921-29). She was the chief enforcement officer for prohibition, and argued
before the United States Supreme Court in many cases.

Derry, A.B., LL.B., Laura Miller, Editor
Digest of Women Lawyers and Judges: Biographical sketches and data of
women lawyers and judges of the United States and its possessions
[Louisville, Ky.] : Dunne Press, c1949.

From the preface:

“Neither time nor effort has been spared in securing the records of women lawyers and judges. . . . Collection of material in this book was made chiefly in 1947 and 1948, . . . It is believed ‘Digest of Women Lawyers and Judges” is the biggest and best volume, which has been compiled on America’s Portias and Deborahs. . . . I hope this is the beginning of the collection of historic works and humanitarian deeds of women lawyers and judges and trust that a concerted effort will be put forth by all women in the profession to effect a permanent record of women lawyers (including our forerunners, the pioneers of the
professon), in order that their biographical records may fulfill a useful purpose. It is my ernest desire that the good deeds wrought by all future women lawyers in behalf of their community and the world will be henceforward recorded for the benefit, edification and encouragement of posterity.” Includes alphabetical index, index by state of practice, “Some Publications by Women Lawyers and Judges,” and “Interesting Facts Pertaining to Women Lawyers and Judges.”

Some examples of “Interesting facts”:
“Mary Sellers Connery, of Chicago, Illinois, was a member of the first firm of women lawyers in the United States: Kelley, Sellers (Connery) and Clark; formed in 1913.

Laura Miller Derry, of Louisville, Kentucky, Editor of “Digest of Women Lawyers and Judges” is the first woman attorney to represent a client before an Army Court-Martial and only woman who has secured a verdict of Not Guilty for a person charged with a capital offense before an Army General Court-Martial. Leola Buck Kellogg, of Los Angeles, California, has tried eighteen murder trials in the past four years. In the cases of first-degree murder none received the death penalty except one, and that case was appealed by her to the Supreme Court of the State of California. It was reversed and a new trial had; she did not try the case on new trial.

Attorney and song composer Jean Nelson Penfield of New York City, headed a Department of Law for women in the Brooklyn Law School during World War I. Mrs. Penfield was one of the seven incorporators of the Woman’s Suffrage Party, helped organize the League of Women Voters, and is the only woman who has won the Inter-State College Oratorical Contest; at the age of nineteen, she won against representatives of sixty-three colleges of eleven states.”

Stanford Alumnae included in the book include:
“Curry, Altha Perry, Attorney, Asso. of firm of Skeel, McKelvy, Henke, Evenson & Uhlmann, 914 Insurance Bldg., Seattle 4, Washington; res. 1628 22nd N., Seattle; b. Needles, Calif.; dau. John E. Perry (Dec’d) and Pauline Brobant Perry. Adm. 1917, California; 1921, Washington. Mem. Wash. State Bar Assn.; Phi delta Delta International Legal Fraternity; chi Omega Fraternity; Women’s Univ. Club; Daughters of American Revolution (Chief, Seattle Chapter); Pro America, women’s Republican organization Edn. Leland Stanford Jr. Univ., A.B., 1915, and Jur.D., 1917. Republican, Golf, swimming.”

Drachman, Virginia G.
Sisters in Law: Women Lawyers in Modern American History
Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 334 pages, 1998

See Babcock, Feminist Lawyers, 50 Stanford Law Review 1689 (1998) for a review of this book. This book followed the author’s similar history of women physicians. The history of women in that male dominated field is similar to the history of women in law. In law, though, the authors’s thesis is that there are some unique historical distinctions: First, more than any other profession women sought to enter in the 19th Century, law was the most engendered and closed to women. Second, law was particularly hard to enter because sexual discrimination was rooted in the legal system. This book, with its excellent list
of sources, tells a story; “the work is at its heart a narrative.” It begins with the first efforts in the late 1860s and ends in the early 20th Century, “when a new generation of women lawyers, though finally part of the legal profession, recognized the limits of their progress.” The Appendix of this book is particularly rich with tables of facts and statistics.

Drachman, Virginia G.
Women lawyers and the origins of professional identity in America: the letters of the Equity Club, 1887-1890
Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 1993, 290 pages.

Letters from a club of early women lawyers, with good biographical introductions to each letter writer. Subjects include Laura Gordon, Lelia Robinson, Sarah Kilgore, and Belva Lockwood among others.

Epstein, Cynthia Fuchs
Women in law, 2d edition
Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1993, 491 pages

Women In Law has been republished and is now available on Kindle and other electronic media; it includes a new foreword by Professor Deborah Rhode.

This is a well documented and indexed study of the role of women in the legal rofession. It is “an accounting of the new and the old, of change and stability. The way it was for the 2 or 3 percent who were able to overcome discrimination and become lawyers still constitutes recent history and forms the context in which change occurred.” In this book the author “analyzes the ways in which women attorneys are treated by their colleagues and families, the kinds of pressures and cross-pressures they face . . .”

Esser, John and Sherry Sullivan
Women in the law: a bibliography
Madison, WI: Institute for Legal Studies, 1990, 50 pages.

Gillmore, Inez Haynes
Angels and amazons: a hundred years of American Women
Garden City, NJ, 1933, 531 pages

Ginger, Ann Fagan
Carol Weiss King, human rights lawyer, 1895-1952
Niwot, CO: Univeristy Press of Colorado, 1993, 599 pages

Harrington, Mona
Women lawyers: rewriting the rules
New York: A.A. Knopf, 1994, 265 pages

Based upon a series of interviews the author seeks the answers to two questions: (1) What stands in the way of equal professional authority for women lawyers; (2) How are women lawyers using the authority they have to advance the equality of women generally.

Harris, Barbara J. (Barbara Jean)
Beyond her sphere: women and the professions in American History
Westpost, CT: Greenwood Press, 1978, 212 pages

Excellent account of the ideological barriers to women in the “learned professions.”

Hoff-Wilson, Joan
Law, gender and injustice: a legal history of U.S. women
New York: New York University Press, 1991, 525 pages

Kanowitz, Leo
Women and the law: the unfinished revolution
Albuquerque, University of New Mexico Press, 1969, 312 pages

Levin, Mildred W.
Magnificent Millie
San Francisco, Queen’s Bench, 1997, 70 pages

This book is the autobiography of Mildred Levin, who was admitted to the California state bar in 1934 and who quickly became know as “a good, cheap criminal lawyer.”

Lunardini Christine A.
From equal suffrage to equal rights: Alice Paul and the National Woman’s Party, 1912-1928
New York: New York University Press, 1986, 230 p

Matthews, Glenna
The rise of public woman: woman’s power and woman’s place in the United States, 1630-1970
New York: Oxford University Press, 1992, 297 pages

Matsuda, Mari J.
Called from within: Early women lawyers of Hawai’i
Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press, 1992

Contents: Almeda Eliza Hitchcock (Moore); Marguerite Kamehaokalani Ashford; Carrick Hume Buck; Rose August; Jean Vaughan Gilbert; Rhoda Lewis; Ruth Winifred Loomis; Harriet Bouslog; Sau Ung Loo Chan; Betty Morrison Vitousek; Margaret Scott Tekeli; Alana Wai Lan Wong Lau; Marybeth Yuen Maul; Patsy Takemoto Mink; Mary Helen McCrea Stevens Weaver Pitts; Betty Barrett Gillette; Lily Miyamoto Okamoto; Other Women in the Law Before Statehood.

Mehaffey, Karen Rae
Victorian American women, 1840-1880: an annotated bibliography
New York: Garland Pub., 1992, 180 pages

Morello, Karen Berger
The invisible bar: the woman lawyer in America 1638 to the present
New York: Random House, 1986, 271 pages

Chapters in this book include: The First Women Lawyers; the First Women Law Students; Women in the Urban Law Schools; Last Bastions: The Ivy League Law Schools; Rebels and Reformers; Double Impairment: Black Women Lawyers; Women in the Courtroom; Women in Major Law Firms; and Women on the Bench. Readers should check the index to see who is profiled. The book contains a section of photographs.

Mossman, Mary Jane.
The First Women Lawyers: A Comparative Study Of Gender, Law And The Legal Professions
Oxford: Hart Publishing, 2006

National Association of Women Lawyers
75 year history of the National Association of Women Lawyers: 1899-1974
Edited and compiled by Mary H. Zimmerman
New York: The Association, 1975, 472 pages

Anyone interested in biographical information on women lawyers should closely examine this book. It contains a treasure trove of essays and tidbits by and/or about notable women lawyers including Olive Scott Gabriel, Georgia Bullock, Burnita Shelton Matthews and many others.

Nordby, Virginia Blomer and Gordon L. Nordby
Stanford Law School women graduates: a report to the Board of Visitors Executive Committee, November 20, 1971.
Stanford: Stanford Law School, 1971, 17 pages

Norgren, Jill; foreword by Ruth Bader Ginsburg
Belva Lockwood: The Woman Who Would Be President
New York : New York University Press, 2007

Notable American women, 1607-1950; a biographical dictionary
Edward T. James, editor. Janet Wilson James, associate editor. Paul S. Boyer, assistant editor.
Cambridge: Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 1971, 3 volumes.

Includes individually authored biographical sketches of 20 women lawyers, including Laura Gordon, Clara Foltz, Belva Lockwood, Mrya Bradwell, Phoebe Cousins.

Particular passions: talks with women who have shaped our times
Lynn Gilbert and Gaylen Moore
New York: C.N. Potter, 1981, 340 pages

This delightful book offers photographs and short chapters on several women lawyers, including Constance Baker Motley, Eleanor Holmes Norton, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Bella Abzug, Shirley Hufstedler, Justine Wise Polier

Rupp, Leila J. and Verta Taylor
Survival in the doldrums: the American women’s rights movement, 1945 to the 1960’s
New York: Oxford University Press, 1987, 284 pages

Sachs, Albie and Joan Hoff Wilson
Sexism and the law: a study of male beliefs and legal bias in Britain and the United States
Oxford, M. Robertson, 1978, 257 pages

Salokar, Rebecca Mae and Mary L. Volcansek, editors
Women in law: a bio-bibliographical sourcebook
Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1996, 376 pages

This book presents 43 biographies, each by a different author, of the following women:
Florence Ellinwood Allen; Mary Arden; Anita Augsburg; Suzanne Bastid-Basdevant; Miriam Ben-Porat; Myra Bradwell; Beverly Blair Cook; Irene R. Cortes; Takako Doi; Ruth Bader Ginsburg; Brenda Marjorie Hale; Rosalyn Higgins; Leonilde Iotti; Barbara Charline Jordan; Sylvie Kanigi; Carrie Burnham Kilgore; Helen Kinnear; Clair L’Heureaux-Dube; Jutta Limbach; Burnita Shelton Matthews; Beverley McLachlin; Soia Mentschikoff; Constance Baker Motley; Emily Ferguson Murphy; Eleanor Holmes Norton; Sandra Day O’Connor; Sadako Ogata; Cecilia Munoz Palma; Tamar Pelleg-Sryck; Janet Reno; Mary
Robinson; Flerida Ruth P. Romero; Simone Rozes-Ludwig; Wiltraut Rupp-von Brunneck; Helga Seibert; Elisabeth Selbert; Margaret A. Somerville; Helene Stocker; Helen Suzman; Leah Tsemel; Agathe Uwilingiyimana; Simone Veil-Jacob; Bertha Wilson.

Smith, J. Clay, Jr.
Rebels In Law Voices in History of Black Women Lawyers
Ann Arbor University of Michigan Press, 1998.

Tuve, Jeanette E.
First lady of the law, Florence Ellinwood Allen
Lanham, MD: University Press of America, 1984, 220 pages

Women and the law: a social historical perspective
Edited by D. Kelly Weisberg
Cambridge: Schenkman, 1982, 2 volumes

Contains a “classic” entry: D. Kelly Weisberg, “Barred from the Bar: Women and Legal Education in the United States, 1870-1890, contained in volume II at page 231

Women, the law, and the Constitution: major historical interpretations
Edited with an introduction by Kermit L Hall
New York: Garland, 1987, 527 pages

Women and the power to change Edited by Florence Howe
New York: McGraw-Hill, 1975, 182 pages

Essays include: Rich, Adrienne, Toward a Woman-Centered University; Hochschild, Arlie Russell, Inside the Clockwork of Male Careers; Wallach, Aleta, A View from the Law School; Howe, Florence, Women and the Power to Change.

II. Articles

A. Classic Articles

Robinson, Lelia, Women Lawyers in the United States, 2 The Green Bag 10 (1890).

The author, the first woman at the Massachusetts Bar, wrote to 100 other women, obtaining their names through news items and law schools and write about their practices and experiences.

Lazarou, Fettered Protias: Obstacles Facing Nineteen-Century Women Lawyers, 64 Women Lawyers Journal 21 (1978).

B. Clara Shortridge Foltz

Clara Shortridge Foltz (1849-1934) was the first woman lawyer on the Pacific Coast. Professor Babcock is writing her biography and has published a number of acticles about her in the process. These articles show the relation of the early women lawyers to the movements for suffrage and other reforms, and also a typical struggle for professional success and recognition.

Barbara Allen Babcock, A Real Revolution
University of Kansas Law Review, Volume 49, No. 4, p. 719 – 731 (May 2001).

Babcock, Barbara Allen, “Women Defenders in the West” 1 University of Nevada Law Journal 1 (2001)

Babcock, Barbara Allen, “Contracted” Biographies and Other Obstacles to “Truth”: Commentary, 70 New York University Law Review 707 (1995)

Babcock, Barbara Allen, Clara Shortridge Foltz: “First Woman.” (First Women: The Contributions of American Women to the Law), 28 Valparaiso University Law Review 1231 (1994)

Babcock, Barbara Allen, Remarks on the Occasion of the Publication of Called from Within: Early Women Lawyers of Hawaii, March 12, 1993, 16 Biography 3 (1993)

Writing biography has its distinctly autobiographical moments – as Profesor Babcock found from being on a short list of Attorney General nominees.

Babcock, Barbara Allen, A Place in the Palladium: Women’s Rights and Jury Service, 61 University of Cincinnati Law Review 1139 (1993).

Babcock, Barbara Allen, Western Women Lawyers, 45 Stanford Law Review 2179 (1993).

“The life I take as my example is that of the first woman to be a lawyer among all the states of the Ninth Circuit – the Portia of the Pacific – Clara Shortridge Foltz.”

Babcock, Barbara, She Blazed the Trail: Clara Foltz Opened a Major Door for Women in 1878, When She Became the First Female Member of the State Bar, 106 The Los Angeles Daily Journal S16 (October 7, 1993).

Babcock, Barbara Allen, Clara Shortridge Foltz: Constitution-maker, 66 Indiana Law Journal 849 (1991)

This is a book length article, with a detailed table of contents, note on documentation and numerous, rich footnotes.

Babcock, Barbara Allen, Reconstructing the Person: The Case of Clara Shortridge Foltz, 12 Biography 1 (1989)

C. Legal Periodicals

Buffalo Law Review, “100 Years of Women at the University of Buffalo,” [Editorial Tribute] Fall, 1999. Volume 47, p. 1131. The American Lawyer, “Women in the Law: A Special Issue,” March, 1999. The Women’s Legal History Biography Project is recognized in the Acknowledgements to this issue, “…a valuable collection of articles, historical materials, and student papers have been collected on-line by Stanford Law School professor Barbara Babcock and students…”

Issue Contents:

“Numbers Too Big to Ignore,” by Amy Singer
“Opening Doors,” by Rachel Brash and Laura Pearlman
“Centuries of Change,” by Catherine Aman

“Sisters in Law,” by Susan Beck
“There’s Something About Mary,” by Susan Beck
“Shortchanged?” by Krysten Crawford
“Thunder on the Right,” by Alison Frankel
“Power: By the Numbers”

“The Group,” by Susan Orenstein
“Table Talk”
“Family Law,” by Laura Pearlman
“Labors of Love,” by Carlyn Kolker

“Enter the Ladies,” by Karen Berger Morello
“You’ve Got Mail”
“Admission Denied,” by John Anderson
“Looking the Part,” by A.J. Noble
“Taking it to the Street,” by Douglas McCollam

Clark, Mary L., “The First Women Members of the Supreme Court Bar, 1879-1900,” 36 San Diego Law Review 87 (February/March 1999).

Clark, Mary L., “The Founding of the Washington College of Law: The First Law School Established by Women for Women,” 47 American University Law Review 613 (1998).

Article Contents:


  1. The Early Lives of Ellen Spencer Mussey and Emma Gillett and the Founding of the Women’s Law Class in 1896
    1. Ellen Spencer Mussey
    2. Emma Gillett
    3. Mussey and Gillett as Prototypes of Early Women Lawyers
  2. The History of the Woman’s Law Class and the Founding of the Washington College of Law in 1898
    • Factors Shaping Mussey and Gillett’s Decision to Found a Law School Primarily for Women
      1. The expansion of women’s higher education opportunities
      2. The growth of women’s voluntary associations
      3. The rise of the women’s suffrage movement
      4. Mussey and Gillett’s personal struggles to obtain legal instruction in Washington, D.C.
    • Mussey and Gillett’s Adoption of a Coeducational Format
    • The Absence of African Americans at WCL
  3. WCL’s Formative Years Under Mussey: 1898-1913
  4. WCL’s Subsequent Growth under Gillett and Her Successors: 1914-1950
  5. Mussey and Gillett’s Lives After WCL’s Founding

Conclusion: WCL’s Legacy for Women in Legal Education Today

Dayton, Kim, “Trespassers, Beware!”: Lyda Burton Conley and the Battle for Huron Place Cemetery, 8 Yale Journal of Law and Feminism 1 (1996).

Lyda Burton Conley, a Kansas attorney and a Wyandot Indian, was the first to argue before the Supreme Court for the protection of Native American burial grounds. Her mother was buried at Huron Place and Ms. Conley went to great lengths to protect these grounds — including standing guard with a shot gun.

Smith, Selma Moidel, “A Century of Achievement The Centennial of the National Association of Women Lawyers – The First 50 Years,” Experience magazine (published by the ABA Senior Lawyers Division), Fall 1998 cover story; “…The Second 50 Years,” Winter 1999. Both reprinted by NAWL in Summer 1999 Women Lawyers Journal. Smith, Selma Moidel, “A New Discovery The first Women Members of the ABA,” Experience magazine,
Summer 1999 (from original research

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