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Helen Hamilton upends American Bar Association Convention in 1915

UND Today

On Wednesday of Convention Week in 1915, the lead-up to the American Bar Association’s national convention in Salt Lake City was still sedate. “May elect women to Bar Association,” the Salt Lake Telegram headlined on that day, informing readers about one debate that might unfold.

Unfold it did: “Application for membership causes lively session of lawyers’ society,” the Spokane Chronicle in Spokane, Wash., headlined the next day.

In fact, newspapers from the Washington Post to the Los Angeles Times by then were taking note, because a female attorney’s request for membership had prompted a “row” of words among ABA members. This blunt headline from Page 1 of the Aug. 19, 1915, edition of the Nevada State Journal tells the tale: “Uproar provoked when women termed as ‘undesirables.’”

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