I was flipping through some older newspapers and saw a suffrage cartoon that gave me the idea of searching for old news items with the phrase “woman’s place is.”

Boy!  There is a lot to pick from.  I will have to revisit this set of documents from time to time, but this item jumped out at me and introduced me to a woman I had never heard of by the name of Jeannette Bates.

It was in the Chicago based The Day Book in 1917:

Jeanette BatesChicago, January 10, 1917: Bosh! It was Jeannette Bates, woman lawyer, just appointed assistant attorney general of Illinois, who “boshed” a smiling “bosh” across a paper-Uttered desk in answer to the question: “Do you agree in the argument that woman will never attain an important place in law?”

Miss Bates has just taken a place
beside Congressman Jeannette Rankin in the political procession.

“Woman’s place is wherever she makes good,” said Miss Bates. “Some women will make good in the court; some in the kitchen.

“I know Clarence Darrow has just said the woman lawyer may not make a living in the law. Well, I know some, men lawyers whose living – made in the law is rather lean.

“Mr. Darrow said, ‘Women are too kind to succeed as corporation lawyers, they cannot fight the soulless trusts.

“But women have fought trusts,” declared Miss Bates. “Ida Tarbell’s heart never weakened her fighting qualities.

“To go back to this matter of making a living in the law. When I was teaching I made $1,200 a year. The first year I practiced law I made more than $1,200. Since I have been practicing I have acquired a comfortable, seven-room bungalow, a garden and chickens.

“As women are gaining more political power,” continued the woman who has the state of Illinois for a client, “the law rather than medicine or teaching is attracting women. We used to be told the ‘legal mind’ was a man monopoly. Women seem to be proving there are no monopolies in the professions.”

via The Day Book, January 9, 1917

Labor Digest, January 1917

Labor Digest, January 1917

Jeannette Bates was a 1903 graduate of the University of Chicago who went on to study law there and at Northwestern. Prior to her career as a lawyer, she taught in the Hyde Park high school. He appointment made news around the country in various Law Reviews and Labor Journals.

Miss Bates was a member of the law firm of Bates and Thompson and drew from her years of practice in Chicago in her AAG role.

Jeanette Bates, with her adopted children, Katherine and Edward.

Jeanette Bates, with her adopted children, Katherine and Edward.

Her special area of focus as an assistant attorney general of Illinois was the enforcement of industrial welfare laws and the child labor law.

The announcements of her appointment were rather modest but they appeared all over the nation. This short note in the Norwich Bulletin in Connecticut is typical:

ILLINOIS TO HAVE WOMAN ASSIST. ATTORNEY GENERAL – Miss Jeanette Bates of Ardmore is to be Appointed. Chicago, Dec. 28. Illinois Is to have a woman assistant attorney general, it was announced today by Edward Brundage, attorney-general-elect, who said he would appoint Miss Jeanette Bates to the position. To the best of Mr. Brundage’s knowledge, there is but one other woman in the country In such a position. Miss Bates is now village attorney for the suburb of Ardmore.’

Bates was the second woman to serve as an Assistant Attorney-General. The first was Miss Clara Ruth Mozzar of Colorado.


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