First Fifty Women in Idaho Law
On March 10, 2005, the Idaho State Bar hosted the single largest event in its history when it honored the first 50 women members of the Idaho State Bar (actually 52 since five women were admitted on the same day in 1975). Almost 400 people gathered at the Grove Hotel in Boise to hear the inspiring stories of these early women pioneers.
The first woman, Helen L. Young, was admitted in 1895 before women had the right to vote in Idaho and at a time when admission to the bar was restricted to “white males.” Eighty years later, in 1975, the 50th woman was admitted in Idaho.
Many of the surviving “first 50” were in attendance for the event and were treated to an entertaining evening featuring remarks from two of their own – Rei Kihara Osaki (No. 16) and Hon. Karen J. Orndorff Vehlow (No. 52) – and a keynote address from Professor Barbara Babcock, the first woman appointed to the regular faculty at Stanford Law School and an expert on early women attorneys in the United States. Idaho’s first woman to sit on the Idaho Supreme Court and its first Chief Justice, Linda Copple Trout, introduced Professor Babcock as an accomplished lawyer and educator who challenged the institution of law throughout her career and, in so doing, redefined its boundaries to open the door of opportunity for all.
Throughout the evening attendees were able to view a PowerPoint Presentation featuring pictures, news clips and other stories about the each of the “first 50” women and were able to peruse a list of Milestones for Women in Idaho Law as background for the evening’s festivities.
The stories of each of the “first 50” women’s lives and how they came to practice in Idaho has been meticulously gathered into a book entitled “1895-1975: The First 50 Women in Idaho Law” by Debora K. Kristensen, which was distributed at the March 10, 2005 event.
For more information about some of the United States’ earliest women lawyers go to the Women’s Legal History Website developed by Professor Babcock, her students and the Robert Crown Library Staff.