Florence Ellinwood Allen, lawyer, judge, suffragist, pacifist. Allen was the first woman judge of a State Supreme Court, the first woman appointed as a Federal judge, and the first woman judge in a Court of Appeals. Her mother, Corinne Tuckerman, was a member of the first class admitted to Smith College. Her father, Clarence Allen, was a professor of Latin and Greek at Western Reserve University and placed a strong emphasis on education.

Florence took an interest in books from a very young age and her father said, “If Florence were a boy, I’d make a lawyer out of her.” She graduated from the University of Chicago and in 1913, she received an L.L.B. From New York University Law School. Allen began her legal practice in Cleveland and right from the beginning, she was an advocate for the women’s suffrage movement, serving for many years as the attorney for the Cleveland Woman Suffrage Party and became the first woman to argue before a supreme court…winning a municipal suffrage case.

In the 1920’s, Allen was active in the Peace Movement, and won a municipal suffrage case in Ohio. Also in 1920, a huge event for women, the first year women were constitutionally guaranteed the right to vote. Allen was elected judge of the Court of Common Please, another milestone in history…the first woman to be elected to a judicial office. In 1922, she was elected to the Ohio Supreme Court, the first woman to serve as a judge of the highest court of a state. In 1934, President Roosevelt appointed her to the Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit. No woman had previously been appointed to the US Court of Appeals.

Judge Allen, a popular lecturer, published several books, was an outspoken opponent of war, and a strong advocate for the International Court. She received honorary degrees from 25 colleges and universities, the National Achievement Award, the Order of the Coif and a citation for advancing the status of women in the legal profession. Florence Allen was definitely a leader and a ground-breaker! We think Dad would have been very proud!

Ref.:”Florence Ellinwood Allen Papers,” Sophia Smith Collection, Smith College, Northampton, Mass.


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