From Woman Lawyer: The Trials of Clara Foltz -- Online Notes For The Book

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There are three timelines here; the first covers the main events of Clara Foltz's life; the second the passage of the women’s clauses at the 1879 constitutional convention; the third the main events in Foltz’s campaign for a public defender.

Timeline of the Main Events in the Life of Clara Shortridge Foltz

1849 July 16th Born Lafayette, Indiana.

1860-1863 Attended Howe’s Academy in Mt. Pleasant, Iowa

1864 Taught school in Keithsburg, Mercer County, Illinois

1864, December Eloped with Jeremiah David Foltz, recently discharged as disabled from Union Army.

1872 Moved to Oregon (lived in Portland and Salem)

1874 Moved to San Jose, California.

1876-77 Studied law with father, Elias Shortridge, J.C. Black, and C.C. Stevans in San Jose, California.

1877 February 7 - Delivered first public lecture; spoke on woman suffrage

1878 April 1, Woman Lawyers Bill enacted .

1878 September 4 –Bar examination; Sept. 5 -First woman admitted to the Bar in California. 20th District Court at San Jose.

1879 January 9, Starts classes at Hastings after moving to San Francisco with her 3 older children; joined by Laura de Force Gordon on second day.

1879 January 11, Letter from Hastings Registrar advising Foltz that admission to the law school is denied.

1879 January 29, Admitted to Fourth District Court at San Francisco after examination by W.W. Cope, J.B. Lamar, and Sidney v. Smith.

1879 Feb. 20, Constitutional Convention passes clause guaranteeing women equal employment opportunity.

1879 Feb. 24, Foltz and Gordon argue Hastings case before Judge Robert Morrison

1879 Feb. 26, Constitutional Convention passes clause guaranteeing equal educational opportunity for women.

1879 March 5, wins Hastings suit. Opponents appeal .

1879 May, returns to live in San Jose, California.

1879 November –Divorce from Jeremiah; decree entered.

1879 December 6, admitted to California Supreme Court Bar after oral examination.

1879 December, Argues and wins Foltz v. Hoge [President of Hastings Board] 54 Cal. 28 (1879).

1880 Jan. 14, leaves for Sacramento to assume duties as Clerk for State Assembly Judiciary Committee. First woman to hold position.

1880 Writes and lobbies unsuccessfully for suffrage.

1880 Moves to San Francisco with older children to practice and attend Hastings. Living at Hotel on DuPont Street

1880 Campaigns for both the state and national Republican Party ticket. Paid political orator.

1881 Elected President of California’s Woman Suffrage Association.

1881 February -Tries Wheeler murder case for prosecution opposite Laura Gordon for defense

1881 May. Foltz very ill. Mother comes to San Francisco to nurse her.

1881 November, moves back to San Jose but continues practice in San Francisco.

1882- Accepts Henry Cogswell as client for purpose of effecting return of property donated to the University.

1883 January -March, Lobbies in Sacramento on Cogswell Case.

1883 Moves office from 231 Montgomery Street to Phelan Building, 806 Market Street,

1883 March to April, Tries Phelps v. Cogswell, a civil false arrest case.

1884 April, Lawyers Lecture to audience of thousands at Metropolitan Hall, San Francisco.

1884 May 12, Files affidavit in Taylor v. Bidwell case, asking for an extension of time to file brief because she has been very ill.

1884 November, Elector on the Equal Rights Ticket headed by Belva Lockwood.

1885 July, files suit against Cogswell for a fee of $15,000 .

1885 September, lecture tour of Washington, Oregon, Utah, Chicago, Boston, and New York.

1886 October, switches to the Democratic ticket and campaigns for Washington Bartlett for Governor.

1887 Jan. –Feb. Lectures in the East

1887 May- Moves to San Diego, California and founds the San Diego Bee - May 16, 1887.

1887 July, named to Board of State State Normal School, first woman to hold statewide office in California.

1887 November –Sells Bee

1888 January, opens real estate office in San Diego, California, with partner and secretary Maria Crawford.

1888 March-Trial of Suit for her fee in San Francisco. Foltz v. Cogswell .

1888 April Eastern lecture trip to boost San Diego.

1888 May 21-26—jury trial in White divorce case

1888- October-November Foltz and Laura Gordon are both employed as campaign orators for the Democrats in Presidential Campaign.

1890 February 25-26 Attends the Women’s National Liberal Union Convention in Washington, DC.

1890 March 4, Admitted to U.S. Supreme Court Bar.

1890 Resumes practice in San Francisco

1891 Becomes the first woman Notary Public in California. Lobbies for parole and penal reform.

1892 June, tries Elmira Starke case.

1892 Candidate of People’s Party for city attorney in San Francisco.

1893 August, Speaks at the World Columbian Exposition (World’s Fair) in Chicago, Illinois at first meeting of women lawyers, and at Congress of Jurisprudence and Law Reform.

1893 December, Organizes the Portia Law Club in San Francisco.

1894 June to November, frequent meetings of the Portia Law Club draw much press attention.

1895 January, Testifies before the California Legislature on the constitutionality of suffrage legislation; suffragists’ efforts resulting in a statewide referendum in 1896.

1895 February, tries Von Schmidt v. Home for Inebriates.

1895 April, leaves on an Eastern tour.

1895 May 7-11 Salt Lake City--guest of Mr. and Mrs. Isaac Trumbo.

1895 Mid-May to June 12 Colorado Springs. Tries Bolles v. Bolles case.

1895 July 4, Newport, Rhode Island, with daughters at the home of James T. Kernochan.

1895 July 10, Sails for Southampton, England with daughter Virginia.

1895 July 21, shipwrecked while crossing from France to England in the Channel.

1895 September 7, sails for New York. Arrives September 16.

1896 February 21, admitted to the New York Bar . Sets up an office in the Temple Court Building.

1896 June, Represents New York Woman’s Suffrage Association at the Republican Convention in St. Louis .

1896 December, tries first criminal case in New York –prevents extradition.

1897 January, Introduces the Public Defender Bill in the New York Legislature. –Arranges simultaneous introduction in over a dozen states . June, publishes Public Defenders in The American Law Review summing up the campaign.

1898 October 29, announces the opening of her practice in Denver, Colorado, and begins to publish a weekly magazine, “The Mecca” in honor of woman suffrage in the state. Mr. Earl Marble and Callie Bonney Marble are co-editors.

1899 Clara Foltz Gold Mining Co. stock sales and brochure in New York City.

1899 April, reopens San Francisco office.

1900 Campaign orator for McKinley in Presidential campaign in California and Idaho.

1901 Publishes “Oil Fields and Furnaces.” Before 1905 consolidated with National Oil Reporter, an organ of Standard Oil.

1905 Organizes the Women’s Department for United Bank and Trust Company in San Francisco, California.

1906 Moves to Los Angeles after earthquake and fire in San Francisco.

1906-1911 Organizes the Los Angeles Votes for Women Club.

1909 Foltz the first woman appointed to the California State Board of Charities and Corrections. Serves 1910-1912.

1910 April Appointed the first female Deputy District Attorney of Los Angeles and serves from 1911 to 1913.

1911 November, woman suffrage amendment passed by voters.

1913 Specializes in probate and corporation law in Los Angeles.

1916-1918 Edits and publishes the “New American Woman Magazine” in Los Angeles

1918 Helps to found the Woman Lawyers Club.

1920 Campaigns for brother Samuel for U.S.Senate;he served two terms from 1921 to 1932.

1921-1922 Heads the Foltz Oil Producers Syndicate.

1925 Appointed to teaching staff at the Los Angeles College of Law (later USC).

1930 Runs for governor of California.

1934 September 2, dies in Los Angeles, California.

1878- 1879 Timeline of Events at the Constitutional Convention Leading to Passage of Educational and Employment Clauses from Babcock, Constitution-Maker at 878.


October Laura Gordon and others appear before the Committee on Suffrage.

November Committee on Suffrage reports to Convention. Recommends future legislature may remove disabilities on account of sex (legislative empowerment).

December First suffrage debate on the floor. Proponents led by Workingmen.


January 9-11 Foltz and Gordon attend classes at Hastings College of the Law.

January 11 Women receive notice dated 1/10 that they are excluded on account of sex.

January 13-15 Convention debates woman suffrage sitting as Committee of the Whole. Led by Workingmen; Non-partisans Steele and McFarland also prominent. Defeated.

February 10 -Foltz files suit for admission to law school in San Francisco District Court.

February 13 Renewed suffrage debates. Led by Non-partisan James J. Ayers

February 14 Hastings successfully moves for a continuance of Foltz’s law suit. Legislative empowerment defeated 55 Ayes; 67 Noes.

February 15 (Saturday)Newspapers report continuance of Hastings case.

February 17 (Monday) Ringgold introduces employment clause.

February 20 Employment clause passes without debate by voice vote.

February 24 Hastings case argued.

February 25 Extensive newspaper accounts of Hastings arguments

February 26 Education clause passes without debate. 103 Ayes; 20 Noes.

March 5 Women win Hastings case. Opinion cites Woman Lawyer's Bill and employment section of newly drafted constitution.

Time Line of Events Connected to the Founding of the Public Defender

from Babcock, The Public Defender and the Woman’s Rights Movement—1878-1913. This is part of The Women and Social Movements Website available at http://womhist.alexanderstreet.com

1878-1890 Foltz practices law in western courts. Sees many injustices from lack of adequate counsel for poor people accused of crime. Also concerned about prosecutorial misconduct. Conceives the idea of a public defender to match the public prosecutor.

1890 Foltz attended the founding convention of the Woman’s National Liberal Union in Washington D.C. and spoke about the Public Defender

1892 Foltz defended James Wells in a felony trial in San Francisco. Lost verdict because of prosecutorial misconduct.

1893 August: Foltz invited to speak at the Congress of Jurisprudence and Law Reform held in connection with the World Columbian Exposition. Published speech in the Albany Law Journal

December: Foltz won Wells case on appeal, creating a major precedent on prosecutorial misconduct

1896 July: Foltz published article: “Duties of District Attorneys in Prosecutions” in the Criminal Law Magazine

1897 January: Foltz introduced the Foltz Defender Bill in the New York Legislature June: Foltz published an article summarizing the Public Defender campaign and arguments for it in the American Law Review

1909 Foltz appointed to the California State Board of Charities and Corrections. First woman named to post in California. Served for two years.

1910 Foltz appointed the first female Deputy District Attorney of Los Angeles. Served for two years.

1911 November: Women’s suffrage passed in California. Los Angeles adopted city charter that included possibility of a public defender.

1913 First Public Defender Office Established in Los Angeles, California.

1921 Foltz Defender Bill adopted (at County option) throughout California.

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