Charles Dana Gibson. Studies in Expression: When Women Are Jurors. Drawing, [1902?] Published in Life, October 23, 1902. Cabinet of American Illustration (CAI--Gibson, no. 23 [C size]). Prints and Photographs Division. LC-USZ62-46321.
Women were virtually nonexistent on juries in 1902 when Charles Dana Gibson, creator of the famous "Gibson Girls," drew this caricature for Life. On rare occasions, however, women were called to serve in cases that involved female defendants. Despite the fact that juries are selected from voter rolls and the passage of the Nineteenth Amendment qualified women as "electors," the states did not immediately pass legislation to include them for jury selection. As late as 1942 only twenty-eight state laws allowed women to serve as jurors, but these also gave them the right to claim exemption based on their sex. The Civil Rights Act of 1957 gave women the right to serve on federal juries, but not until 1973 could women serve on juries in all fifty states.
Kurz & Allison. The Chief Justices [of the] United States. Lithograph, 1894. Prints and Photographs Division. LC-USZ62-17681.
Although Justice and Liberty traditionally have been symbolized by female figures, the legislative and judicial bodies have been dominated by men throughout the history of the United States of America. Sandra Day O'Connor and Ruth Bader Ginsburg now serve as associate justices on the Supreme Court, but to date only males have held the position of chief justice of the U.S. Supreme Court.
Executor's Notice for Will of Anna Carpenter and Administrator's Notice for Estate of Mrs. Frances Woodman, January 10, 1835; and Guardian's Notice by Abby Maxson for two children, February 24, 1835; Executrix Notice for Rev. Michael Eddy, deceased, Phebe Eddy, Exect'rx; Probate Notice for Mary Pitman, single woman, April 6, 1835; and Administratrix Notice for estate of James Taylor and Ann Taylor, Adm'x; Guardian's Notice for Elizabeth Almy ("incapable of managing her Estate"), John Almy, Guardian; July 15, 1835. All from the Newport Mercury, Newport, Rhode Island (Bound volume, no. 9658). Serial and Government Publications Division.
Legal notices are published frequently in newspapers. These ads serve to notify the public and specific individuals about legal transactions that are in process. In the case of guardianship, those who are opposed are given the opportunity to state reasons why the transaction should not go forth. Executrix, administratrix of estates, and probate officers give notice so that any debts can be satisfied and contracts can be fulfilled or notice given as to why they will not be completed. Much can be learned about women's roles in the management of estates and family under the law from such notices.
"An Act for Punishment of Scandalous Persons." From A Complete Collection of the Laws of Virginia at a Grand Assembly held at James City 23 March, 1662 (London, [1684?]; Law<United States Virginia 2>). Law Library of Congress.
This 1662 Virginia law was designed to discourage married women from bringing scandal to their husbands by gossiping about their neighbors. If the assessed damages were 500 pounds of tobacco and the husband refused to pay the debt, the wife was punished by dunking.
"The real question is whether the statute was intended to include persons who have, by law, no wills of their own. . . . Infants, insane, femes-covert, all of whom the law considers as having no will, cannot act freely." Martin vs. Commonwealth et al. in Reports of Cases Argued and Determined in the Supreme Judicial Court, of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts (Boston, 1816; KFM2445.A19 1804). Law Library of Congress.
James Martin, the son of William and Anna Martin, filed a writ of error in 1801 in order to recover property owned by his parents that had been confiscated by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts in 1781. William, a British Loyalist, had renounced his citizenship with the newly united American colonies at the outbreak of the Revolutionary War in 1775 and had taken his family to live in Canada. James Martin was able to recover the family property on the basis of several legal arguments. Two of the strongest arguments presented by his attorney, a Mr. Parsons, were that his mother, Anna Martin, had no choice but to follow her husband to Canada because the law assumed that femes-covert had no will of their own, and that she was the owner of the property because she brought it to her marriage. A husband had rights to his wife's estate only for his natural life.
Margaret Sanger, The Fight for Birth Control (New York: Max Maisel, 1916; HQ763.P3 pamphlet 47). Rare Book and Special Collections Division.
Margaret Sanger's "fight for birth control" involved many confrontations with the law. As a consequence of distributing three issues of her journal The Woman Rebel, which contained articles on sexuality, she was indicted in 1914 for violating the Comstock Act of 1873 (An Act for the Suppression of Trade in, and Circulation of, obscene Literature and Articles of immoral Use, c. 258, 17 Stat. 598), which classified materials "for the prevention of conception" as obscene and made it illegal to send them through the mail. In 1916, she and her staff were arrested for operating the first birth control clinic, which was located in Brooklyn. Sanger was convicted in 1917. The appeals court affirmed the conviction (People v. Sanger, 166 NYS 1107 ), and she served one month in the penitentiary for women in Queens, New York.
As women's suffrage passed into law, Sanger gradually won support for family planning from the public and the courts. She organized the first American (1921) and international (1925) birth control conferences and formed the National Committee on Federal Legislation for Birth Control in 1929. In 1936 the United States v. One Package (86 F2d 737 ) decision changed the Comstock Act's classification of birth control literature as obscene, and in 1971 Congress amended the statute to remove any trace of prevention of conception. The U.S. Supreme Court decision Griswold v. Connecticut (381 U.S. 479 ) ended the ban on the use of contraceptives by married couples, and Eisenstadt v. Baird (405 U.S. 438 ) allowed unmarried couples to legally use birth control devices. Sanger's publications and papers are discussed in chapters 4 and 5 respectively, but a visit to the Law Library provides an examination of the laws that relate to birth control and family planning.
Belva Lockwood. Photograph, n.d. Prints and Photographs Division. LC-BH834-55.
In 1879, Belva Lockwood was admitted to the U.S. Supreme Court bar, the first woman to be admitted to it. The same court, however, refused to issue a writ of mandamus ordering the Commonwealth of Virginia to admit her to its bar, thereby setting the legal precedent allowing states to limit their definition of "person" to males only.
"An Act to Grant to the Women of Wyoming Territory the Right of Suffrage, and to Hold Office." From General Laws, Memorials and Resolutions of the Territory of Wyoming, Passed at the First Session of the Legislative Assembly, convened at Cheyenne, October 12th, 1869 (Cheyenne, 1870; Wyo 1 1869). Law Library of Congress.
Wyoming was the first territory to grant women full suffrage rights. Several western states and territories followed this 1869 precedent in granting women the right to vote before the passage of the Nineteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution in 1920.
Chic Young. "Blondie: The Night Shift." Drawing, 1933. Published September 5, 1933. Prints and Photographs Division. LC-USZ62-126672. Reprinted with special permission of King Features Syndicate, Dean Young, and Jeanne Young O'Neil.
Protective legislation, state laws limiting the number of hours a woman or child could work and guaranteeing a minimum wage, was common during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. This drawing from the popular comic strip shows Blondie implementing the notion of protective legislation to ensure equality in her primary workplace, the home. Shortly after her marriage to Dagwood Bumstead in 1933, Blondie organized local housewives and lobbied for an eight-hour day. She led Dagwood to the sink full of dirty dishes with a wink to newspaper readers.
Susan B. Anthony, An Account of the Proceedings on the Trial of Susan B. Anthony, on the Charge of Illegal Voting, at the Presidential Election in Nov., 1872 (Rochester, N.Y., 1874; JK1899.A6 A5 Anthony). Susan B. Anthony Collection, Rare Book and Special Collections Division.
Susan B. Anthony's annotated copy of the printed transcript of her trial for attempting to vote in the 1872 presidential and congressional election documents her efforts to test the citizenship clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. Anthony was indicted and found guilty in a federal court for attempting to vote for a member of Congress. Although the U.S. Supreme Court eventually decided in Minor v. Happersett that suffrage was a privilege to be granted by states, the trial offered Anthony an opportunity to publicize her arguments both in pretrial lectures and subsequent presentations that brought many new converts to the cause.