“Miss Lavinia Goodell & Miss Angie King have formed a partnership for the practice of law.”

“Miss Lavinia Goodell & Miss Angie King have formed a partnership for the practice of law.”

Janesville Gazette, February 1, 1879

Angie King kept busy during the 1870s by working in her brother’s bookstore and caring for her blind sister. At the same time, she studied law in the office of A.A. Jackson.  Along with Lavinia Goodell, she was also active in Janesville’s two literary societies, the Mutual Improvement Club and the Round Table. (Read more about the two clubs here.)

On January 10, 1879, Lavinia was present at the Rock County Courthouse when Angie and two men were examined for admission to the bar. While Lavinia found out that she passed her examination the same day it was given, Angie and the two male scholars had to wait three days to learn their fate. The Janesville Gazette reported, all three passed and “are now recognized as regular practicing attorneys.”

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“These high-minded, noble animals of the superior sex were willing to stoop to the dirtiest work”

“These high-minded, noble animals of the superior sex were willing to stoop to the dirtiest work”

The Revolution, May 8, 1869

Angie King’s unsuccessful 1869 battle to be appointed Janesville’s postmaster (after Janesville’s male Republican voters elected her to the position) garnered national media attention. The Revolution, the women’s rights newspaper founded by Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton, published this article in its May 8, 1869 issue. (The actual column may be seen here.)

A good deal is being said in the papers just now about Miss Angie King, and a struggle for the Janesville, Wis., post-office. It seems that Miss King applied for the position, and was backed by a majority of the citizens of the place, who wished her to occupy it. When she reached Washington she found half a dozen lazy, hungry men seeking for the place, and leaving no stone unturned to get it.

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“Take that you dirty dog!”

“Take that you dirty dog!”

One of the more controversial characters in Lavinia Goodell’s diaries is Kate Kane (Rossi), Wisconsin’s second woman lawyer. Lavinia helped launch her career. If she had lived long enough to watch it unfold, she probably wouldn’t want the credit. Lavinia was brilliant but cool and reserved in public—more RBG than AOC.  And Kate? She was smart but also a hothead and a showboat, who gave other early women lawyers a bad rap.

Cartoon of Kate Kane throwing water in Judge Mallory's face.

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