While we celebrate the groundbreaking and pivotal work of women year-round across fields, this March we’re highlighting the trailblazing women in law profiled in Herma Hill Kay’s Paving the Way, edited by Patricia A. Cain. This month-long blog series showcases the first fourteen women law professors in America who paved the way for Herma Hill Kay and Ruth Bader Ginsburg and all of those who followed. Here we begin with the first three:
Barbara Nachtrieb Armstrong was one of the first women who was appointed to the law faculty at the University of California, Berkeley in 1919. For the next forty years, only thirteen other women succeeded in obtaining similar appointments at law schools that were approved by the American Bar Association and members of the Association of American Law Schools.
Harriet Spiller Daggett was one of the first women to become an American Bar Association and Association of American Law Schools-approved professor. She focused her work on the many problems of the oil & mineral industry which had not yet been judicially determined.
Margaret Harris Amsler’s father, Judge Nat Harris, did not encourage his daughter’s interest in becoming a law professor at first, demanding that she earn an MA in English and French from Wellesley, considering teaching to be more suitable for her sex. In 1939 she was elected to the State Legislature and began her academic career at Baylor in 1941. There she developed a lifelong specialization in business law, teaching contracts, agency and partnerships, corporations, commercial transactions and bills and notes among other subjects.
Paving the Way documents the first wave of trailblazing female law professors and the stage they set for American democracy. Publishing April 2021.