Kate Stoneman Inducted into National Women's Hall of Fame
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.
Gravesite Memorial Keeps Stoneman's Legacy Alive
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:
"Kate Stoneman was the first woman admitted to practice law in New York State. After training in a private firm, her application to join the bar was rejected because of her gender. She then successfully campaigned to amend the Code of Civil Procedure to permit the admission of qualified applicants without regard to gender or race. Her admission to the NYS Bar in 1886 paved the way for thousands of women and minorities who followed. Ms. Stoneman continued her legal education by attending Albany Law School and in 1898, became the first woman to graduate."
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.