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Women Who Make a Difference: In Law & Education

In honor of Women's History Month. Read more about Women's History Month at

At the University of Georgia

Mary CreswellMary Creswell - In 1919 Creswell became the first woman to receive a baccalaureate degree from the University of Georgia. She had previously graduated from the Georgia State Normal School and taught in the Walton County public schools. Creswell served as a field agent for the U.S. Department of Agriculture and became the department's first female supervisor. In 1933 she became the first Dean of the School of Home Economics. The Mary Ethel Creswell Papers are available at the Hargrett Rare Book & Manuscript Library.

Mary Lyndon - In 1914 Lyndon became the University of Georgia's first female graduate, earning a Master of Arts. When women were admitted as full students in the 1919-1920 school year, Lyndon was elected by the University Board of Trustees to the positions of Associate Professor of Education and Dean of Women.

In the Law School

Ada Kepley -  In 1870 Kepley became the first woman to graduate from an American law school when she earned her Bachelor of Laws from Union College of Law (now Northwestern). It was not until 1881, when the Illinois law barring women from practicing the "learned professions" was overturned, that Kepley actually became a practicing attorney. Kepley had also earned a Ph.D. from Austin College in Effingham, Illinois. Kepley became active in the temperance and women's suffrage movements. She founded Band of Hope, a youth-oriented temperance group, which focused on educating the youth of the Effingham area about the hazards of alcohol addiction. She also published The Friend of Home, a monthly newspaper which openly criticized saloons and their patrons. Video on the history of Effingham  featuring Ada Kepley.

Edith House - In 1925 House was the co-valedictorian of her class and one of the first two women to graduate from the University of Georgia School of Law. House practiced law in Florida, serving as an Assistant United States Attorney for the Southern District for thirty years. When the Southern District was subdivided to create the new Middle District, House was appointed as the United States Attorney for the Southern District, serving briefly until her retirement in 1963. In 1983 the Women Law Students Association began the Edith House Lecture Series which brings outstanding female legal scholars and practitioners to Athens.

Rebecca H. White - In 2004 White became the first female Dean of the School of Law. She had served as interim dean for 14 months. While at UGA she has also served as associate provost and associate vice president of academic affairs. She specializes in the areas of labor law, employment discrimination, employment law, and labor arbitration. Dean White has received numerous teaching awards including the Josiah Meigs Distinguished Teaching Professorship which is UGA's highest honor for teaching excellence. View Dean White's profile

In the United States Supreme Court

Sandra Day O'Connor  - In 1981 O'Connor became the first female Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States. O'Connor was appointed by President Ronald Reagan and served until her retirement in 2006. In the later years of her tenure, she was regarded as a swing vote on the court.  Prior to her appointment to the court, she had served in the Arizona State Senate, as a judge of the Maricopa County Superior Court, and on the state’s court of appeals. Titles authored by O'Connor.
Ruth Bader Ginsburg - In 1993 Ginsburg begame an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States. Appointed by President Bill Clinton, she is the second female justice and the first Jewish female justice. She had spent the previous thirteen years on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit. She is generally viewed as belonging to the more liberal wing of the court. Ginsburg has served as general counsel for the American Civil Liberties Union and as a professor at Rutgers School of Law–Newark and Columbia Law School. Titles authored by Ginsburg.
Sonia Sotomayor - In 2009 Sotomayor became the first Hispanic Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States. She was appointed by President Barack Obama, his first appointment. Sotomayor had extensive private practice and a five year term as an assistant district attorney in New York before President George H.W. Bush nominated her to the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York in 1991. In 1997, she was nominated by President Bill Clinton to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, eventually winning confirmation in 1998. On the Second Circuit, Sotomayor heard appeals in more than 3,000 cases and wrote about 380 opinions.
Elena Kagan - In 2010 Kagen became an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States, appointed by President Barack Obama. She began her legal career as a professor at the University of Chicago Law School, leaving to serve as Associate White House Counsel and later as policy adviser to President Clinton. She became a professor at Harvard Law School and was later named its first female dean. Kagan was serving as U.S. Solicitor General at the time of her nomination. She is the first justice appointed without any prior judicial experience since William Rehnquist in 1972. Elena Kagan



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