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March 30, 2012

Celebrate Women’s History Month: Florence E. Allen

Florence Ellinwood Allen was the first woman appointed Assistant County Prosecutor of Cuyahoga County (1919) and the first woman elected to the Court of Common Pleas in the County (1920), winning by the largest margin of victory at that time. She was the first woman elected to the Supreme Court of Ohio (1922) as well as any state Supreme Court. She was also the first woman appointed to the Federal Circuit Court of Appeals, serving the Sixth Circuit 1934 until her retirement in 1959. She was named the chief judge in 1958.

Miss Allen graduated with a B.A., Phi Beta Kappa, from the College for Women of Western Reserve University (WRU) in 1904. She entered the WRU Graduate School in September 1907 and received the Master of Arts degree in June 1908.

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Florence E. Allen as a college senior

As an undergraduate, Miss Allen was a member of Sigma Psi sorority and YWCA. She was president of the Dramatics Club and editor-in-chief of the student monthly newspaper, College Folio. Following her graduation she was a student at the University of Berlin. Returning to Cleveland, she began teaching at Laurel School in 1906 and was music editor for the Cleveland Plain Dealer.

She sought admission to the Law School but was denied because she was a woman. She attended law school for a year at the University of Chicago and earned the L.L.B. degree from New York University in 1913. She was admitted to the Ohio Bar in 1914 and entered private practice. While in New York, Florence Allen became involved with the suffrage movement, becoming secretary for the College Equal Suffrage Association. Upon passage of the 19th Amendment giving women the right to vote, she ran for office. In her autobiography, To Do Justly (published by the Western Reserve University Press), she wrote, “I was the beneficiary of the entire women’s movement.”

Working through the College for Women Alumnae Association she headed the committee that worked with the WRU president and trustees to open legal and medical education for women. In 1964 she was still providing assistance to the Alumnae Association as honorary chairman of the Mather College Dormitory Fund Campaign.

She received an honorary degree, Doctor of Laws, from WRU in 1926. Florence Allen died September 12, 1966.

Posted by hxy2 at March 30, 2012 07:44 PM

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