A Presidential Proclamation for Women’s History Month, 2016 states that “we remember the trailblazers of the past, including the women who are not recorded in our history books, and we honor their legacies by carrying forward the valuable lessons learned from the powerful.”
To commemorate Women’s History Month, Brooklyn Law School Associate Librarian Linda Holmes has added some interesting titles in the display case on the first of the library opposite the elevator, including Rebels at the Bar: The Fascinating, Forgotten Stories of America’s First Women Lawyers by Jill Norgren (Call # KF367 .N67 2013). The book recounts the life stories of a small group of nineteenth century women who were among the first female attorneys in the United States. Beginning in the late 1860s, these pioneers, motivated by a love of learning, pursued the radical ambition of entering the then all-male profession of law. They desired recognition as professionals and the ability to earn a good living. One prominent early woman attorney was Belva Lockwood, born in New York State in the Niagara County town of Royalton on October 24, 1830. In 1879, a bill was passed in both houses of Congress and signed by President Rutherford B. Hayes allowing Lockwood to become the first woman to practice before the Supreme Court of the United States. On March 3, 1879, she became the first woman admitted to practice before the United States Supreme Court. One of her first actions was to nominate a black Southern colleague for admissions to the court.
In 1884, Lockwood was nominated for president of the United States by the National Equal Rights Party along with Harriet Stow as the vice presidential candidate. Running against James G. Blaine (Republican) and Grover Cleveland (Democrat) at a time when women were not allowed to vote, she received 4,194 votes. She ran for president again in 1888. Lockwood’s professional life focused on women’s rights and she helped women gain equal property rights and equal guardianship of children. She served as president of the Women’s National Press Association, commissioner of the International Peace Bureau in Berne, president of the White House chapter of the American Woman’s League, a senator for the District of Columbia Federal Women’s Republic, chairman of the committee on industrial police for the National Council for Women, and president of the National Arbitration Society of the District of Columbia. She died on May 19, 1917. In 1983 she was inducted into the National Women’s Hall of Fame and on June 18, 1986, the United States Postal Service issued a memorial stamp. For more on Lockwood, see the entry at the New York State Library at this link.