Katherine "Kate" Stoneman's was one of 10 women inducted into the National Women's Hall of Fame during a weekend of celebration held in Seneca Falls, N.Y., on Oct. 10 and 11, 2009. They joined the 226 women of the Hall—the first national membership organization to recognize and celebrate the accomplishments of American women who overcame sexism and personal obstacles to achieve greatness.
Kate Stoneman (1841-1925) was the first woman admitted to practice law in New York State. In 1885, she became the first female to pass the New York State Bar Exam, but her 1886 application to join the bar was rejected because of her gender. Stoneman immediately launched a campaign to amend the Code of Civil Procedure to permit the admission of qualified applicants, without regard to sex or race. She was successfully admitted to the bar later the same month.
In 1898, she became the first female graduate of Albany Law School.
Albany Law planned a weekend of activities surrounding Kate Stoneman's induction to the National Women's Hall of Fame. For more information, visit www.albanylaw.edu/katestoneman.
The Kate Stoneman Committee of Albany Law School is paying tribute to the woman who paved the way for women in law.
On April 24, 2008, at Kate Stoneman's final resting place in Albany Rural Cemetery, the Committee unveiled a special memorial plaque in front of her gravesite.
The inscription on the plaque reads:
Mimi Netter, a founding member of the Kate Stoneman Committee and a 1996 recipient of the Kate Stoneman Award, came up with the idea for the plaque. She took the initiative earlier this year and raised the money for the memorial.
Gail Bensen, a Kate Stoneman Committee member and 2002 Kate Stoneman Award recipient, who also played an integral role in obtaining and dedicating the plaque, said she felt it was important for Kate's gravesite to identify her significant achievements.
"Kate's tombstone is typical Kate—just her name and two dates—no fanfare, no ego, no elaborate explanations," explained Bensen. "Kate said that she didn't feel special about what she did, just that there was a wrong that should be right. Her stone needed an explanation, and I found myself in the position to help make it right."
Kate Stoneman died on May 19, 1925, at the age of 84.