Indiana Female "Firsts"
In the Legal Profession

Betty Anne Barteau

First woman elected to the Marion Superior Court

Betty Anne Barteau

Betty Barteau was the first woman elected to the Marion Superior Court in 1975. She served in that capacity for 16 years before being appointed by Governor Bayh to the Indiana Court of Appeals in 1991. Barteau served for 7 years on the Indiana Court of Appeals. She stepped down from the Indiana Court of Appeals in 1998 when she was appointed the Director of the Russian American Judicial Partnership and moved to Moscow. She was the first American to receive the Femida award, which is the highest legal recognition awarded in Russia, for her work in development of the rule of law. Barteau graduated from Indiana University School of Law—Indianapolis (LL.B., 1965) and the University of Virginia School of Law (LL.M., 1995).

Linda L. Chezem

First female County Court and Circuit Court judge

Linda L. Chezem

Linda Chezem was the first female County Court judge by Governor Bowen’s appointment in 1975 and then election in 1976. She was also the first female Circuit Court judge serving from 1982 to 1988. Chezem left the Lawrence Circuit Court in 1988 when she was appointed to the Indiana Court of Appeals and served on that court until January 1, 1998. She continues to work towards improving the lives of Indiana citizens through her position as a professor in the School of Agriculture at Purdue University and her assistance with various agencies in substance abuse and mental illness areas. Chezem earned her B.S. at Indiana State University (1968) and her J.D. from Indiana University School of Law—Bloomington (1971).

Elizabeth (Bessie) Jane Eaglesfield

First female lawyer in Indiana

Elizabeth (Bessie) Jane Eaglesfield

Elizabeth (Bessie) Jane Eaglesfield, one of the first female graduate from the University of Michigan School of Law, was Indiana’s first woman attorney and one of the first 15 women lawyers in the United States. Eaglesfield was admitted to the bar in 1875 under a Vigo Circuit Court order that established she was “of good moral character, a voter, and a resident of the state.” Despite the language in the court order, Eaglesfield and other Hoosier women could not vote in Indiana until 1920. Once admitted to the bar, Eaglesfield practiced law in Brazil, Terre Haute, and Indianapolis before moving to Michigan to continue her practice.

Kristin Fruehwald

First woman chairperson of the Indianapolis Bar Foundation

Kristin Fruehwald

In 1997, Kristin Fruehwald became the first woman chairperson of the Indianapolis Bar Foundation. Fruehwald received her degree from the Indiana University School of Law--Indianapolis in 1975 and joined an Indianapolis law firm that same year. She currently specializes in estate planning and estate administration. While head of the Foundation, Fruehwald oversaw programs focusing on legal issues for assisting families and individuals in Indianapolis.

Helen M. Gougar

One of the first women to argue before the Indiana Supreme Court

Helen M. Gougar was one of the first women lawyers to argue before the Indiana Supreme Court. She argued on her own behalf in a case appealing the denial of her right to vote in the 1894 election. The case was filed in the Tippecanoe Superior Court in 1895 -- the same day that Gougar was admitted to the bar. Gougar had not applied for admission to the bar until 1895 because she chose to focus instead on the women’s suffrage movement. Though she lost the appeal, Gougar is recognized as a pioneer in the field of law for her effort and dedication to the struggle for women’s rights.

Antoinette Dakin Leach

First female to appeal her denied bar admission to the Indiana Supreme Court

Antoinette Dakin Leach

Antoinette Dakin Leach was the first woman to challenge a bar admission denial based on gender. In 1893, Leach’s lawyers argued in front of the Indiana Supreme Court that despite not being allowed to vote, if a woman was otherwise qualified, she could be admitted to practice law in Indiana. Although the Indiana Supreme Court granted Leach a license to practice law, many male lawyers did not agree with the decision, and she was not admitted to the Indiana State Bar Association until 1909. In addition to challenging gender stereotypes surrounding the practice of law, Leach was also a pioneer in embracing modern technology. She was the first lawyer to submit typewritten filings to the Court instead of writing them out in long hand! She was an 1884 graduate of the University of Tennessee Law School and a court reporter for the Greene-Sullivan Circuit Court before gaining her Indiana law license.

Tamar Althouse Scholz

First female Indiana law school graduate

At the age of 17, Tamar Althouse Scholz entered Indiana University to study law. She completed her studies in 1892 and was the first female graduate of the law school. After completing her degree, she returned to her home in Evansville for a year until she was admitted to the bar in 1896 at the age of 21. Althouse was the first woman to practice law in Vanderburg County at the law offices of J.E. Williamson in Evansville. Along with her legal involvement, she was a court reporter, served on the staff of the State Speaker of the House, worked for the Indiana Public Service Commission, and founded the first women’s Rotary in Evansville.

Myra C. Selby

First female justice of the Indiana Supreme Court

Myra C. Selby

Myra Selby was appointed as a justice of the Indiana Supreme Court in 1995. She was not only the first female to serve on this Court, but also the first African-American member of the Court. Selby received her B.A. from Kalamazoo College (1977), with honors, and a J.D. from the University of Michigan Law School (1980). She practiced law in Washington, D.C. and in a major Indianapolis law firm before serving on the Indiana Supreme Court. Selby stepped down from the bench in 1999 to pursue a career in private practice.

Shirley Shideler

First woman president of the Indiana Bar Foundation

Shirley Shideler was the first woman president of the Indiana Bar Foundation in 1988. The Indiana Bar Foundation is a charitable organization that aims to improve access to the justice system, educate all ages on law-related topics, and strengthen Indiana’s judicial system and legal profession. Shideler graduated from Indiana University School of Law in Indianapolis in 1964 and was named the Outstanding Alumna of the Year in 2001. In 1971, Shideler established another “first” by becoming the first female partner of a large Indiana law firm.

V. Sue Shields

First female Judge of the Indiana Court of Appeals

V. Sue Shields

Sue Shields holds the distinction of the only woman to be able to claim three “firsts” during her illustrious legal career. Shields was the first female judge on the Indiana Court of Appeals, serving from 1978 until 1994. She was the first female trial court judge in Indiana as well. She was elected to the Hamilton County Superior Court in 1964. In 1994, Shields marked another “first” when she was appointed a federal magistrate judge in Indiana – the first woman to do so. Shields got her undergraduate degree from Ball State University (1958) and her J.D. from Indiana University School of Law—Bloomington (1961). She retired from the federal bench in January 2007, 43 years after first being elected to the Hamilton County Superior Court.

Adele Ida Storck

First woman admitted to the Indianapolis Bar Association

Adele Ida Storck was the first woman admitted to the Indianapolis Bar Association in 1921. Storck graduated from the Benjamin Harrison Law School where her senior thesis was awarded a prize by the Blackstone Institute and eventually became required reading at the law school. She initially moved to Indianapolis to teach in the city’s public schools; only later did she decide to pursue a career in the law. Storck, and fellow lawyer Minnie Mason, are credited with establishing the United States’ first all female law firm.

Bibliography

http://www.census.gov/
http://www.inbf.org/Pages/KristinFruehwald.htm
http://www.indynerds.com/trailblazingwomen/listing2000.html
http://www.indybar.org
http://www.in.gov/judiciary/citc/2832.htm
http://indylaw.indiana.edu/students/scholarships.cfm
http://www.inbf.org
http://www.law.indiana.edu/publications/ila/17_12.shtml
http://myweb.wvnet.edu/~jelkins/lp-2001/storck.html
http://www.tmnews.com/stories/2007/12/22/columns.nw-284444.tms
http://www.law.indiana.edu/alumni/profiles/chezem_linda.shtml
http://www.in.gov/judiciary/files/media-press-releases-2003.pdf
http://www.in.gov/judiciary/appeals/2446.htm

Indiana’s First 100 Women Attorneys October 25, 2000 Indiana State Bar Association Young Lawyers Section pages 8, 11, and 13

Bodenhamer, David J. and Shepard, Randall T. The History of Indiana Law. Ohio University Press.