The rise of women in the legal profession in Maryland was shaped by a wide range of factors, including national, state, and local political and social movements. As one scholar has noted, "[W] omen's lives are complex and .. . region, period, personality, and circumstance crucially influence what a subject is able to make of herself."' In this chapter, I explore how those circumstances-- personal and political-influenced the first group of eight women admitted to the Maryland Bar between 1902 and 1920. These women-Etta Maddox, Anna Grace Kennedy, Emilie Doetsch, Marie Elizabeth Kirk Coles, Mary Virginia Meushaw, Helen F. Hill, Emily Dashiell, and Grace Gerber-constituted the "first wave" of women admittees (see Appendix A). They were admitted in a period that spanned the turn of the twentieth century through the end of World War I and corresponded with the reform movements of the Progressive Era in the United States.
The stories of these women are linked with the broader story of these movements, which brought together a coalition of business leaders, philanthropists, social workers, and lawyers who sought to reform government and change and broaden its role. The story of Etta Maddox, told in the previous chapter, demonstrates that the circumstances leading to a woman's decision to become a lawyer during this era and the struggles that followed are complex and, in many ways, unique. But each of these women's stories have common elements, and all were shaped by the Progressive Era in Maryland. The Progressive Era began
The Role of Political and Social Movements on Women’s Entry into the Legal Profession in Maryland (1902-1918), in FINDING JUSTICE: A HISTORY OF WOMEN LAWYERS IN MARYLAND SINCE 1642 (Lynne A. Battaglia ed., 2015).