“My admission has created quite a little sensation here”

“My admission has created quite a little sensation here”

In 1874, a woman’s place was in the home. Most people (male and female) firmly believed that women shouldn’t even be allowed to vote.  By this point, only a few had taken a bar exam or received a law degree.  So Lavinia’s admission to the Rock County Circuit Court was truly extraordinary. She became a celebrity in Janesville, and the national press noticed. She also reportedly raised the bar for bar examinations!

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Posted by admin in Legal practice, 1 comment

“Why this is an unexpected pleasure . . . I am ready to explode with fun!”

“Why this is an unexpected pleasure . . . I am ready to explode with fun!”

–Lavinia Goodell, September 24, 1874

Many, many thanks to the State Bar of Wisconsin. It has awarded Lavinia Goodell the Lifetime Legal Innovator award posthumously for opening the practice of law to women. Click here. The honor helps raise public awareness about Lavinia’s important contributions to history.

We think that Lavinia would be pleased. To her, the equality of women and men was “like an axiom which it were as idle to dispute as to undertake to controvert the multiplication table.” Click here. She would not have expected to receive the award in 2019–150 years after she was admitted to the Rock County Circuit Court because she thought that once a few women began practicing law, the prejudice against them would melt away quickly. In any case, she would be delighted to learn that opening the bar to women helped improve the hygiene of courtrooms across Wisconsin! In her September 4, 1875 Woman’s Journal article, “Shall Women Study Law?,” she wrote:

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Posted by admin in Life in Wisconsin: 1871-1880, Press about Lavinia's biography, Legal practice, 2 comments