publications

Whitmore, Howard J.

Howard J. Whitmore, whose legal career in Nebraska began in the early 1880s, was in 1937 president of the Lancaster County Bar Association. On May 29 of that year his address to the association included an assessment of the role of women in the history of the legal profession prior to 1937 and their progress in the legal and political world.



Women, said Whitmore, have “greatly changed and improved law offices and the methods of doing the business. Strange to say, it is due to the inventive genius of man. When my connection with the profession began, all court and legal papers were prepared in long-hand with pen and ink. Shorthand notes were taken but must be transcribed by hand. Copies were made in the same way or by letter-press. The invention of the typewriter changed everything and opened a vast field of new and congenial employment for women. I think the first machine came to Lincoln in 1882. . . . . In December 1883 the first typewritten transcript was filed in the [Nebraska] supreme court and the district court journal began to be so written in 1890. The first will so prepared was filed in the [Lancaster] county court on September 25, 1893, and it was dated April 11, 1893.



“Women were quick to see and seize the opportunity for the new work. Schools of stenography and typewriting were started and young women hastened to avail themselves of the opportunity. They qualified themselves and soon supplanted men as law clerks. Woman is now the ornament and autocrat of most of the law offices of the country. If you wish to see the lawyer, you must make the appointment through the lady. . . .



“Women are eligible for admission to the bar, the law colleges have opened their doors to them and many have entered the profession and some have made notable success. Husband and wife have even formed copartnership in the practice but I am not prepared with information as to the harmony and success of such arrangements. As early as 1889 Mrs. A. J. Sawyer and Mrs. W. J. Bryan were admitted in this county, but they never actively engaged in the practice.” Whitmore concluded his talk with the wish that women “would lend their efforts and influence to the attainment of those many reforms in the law . . . that we men have so long advocated but have failed to accomplish.”


Become a Member!

Our members make history happen.

Join Now

Other Publications

The Bachelors’ Protective Union of Kearney

When the Bachelors' Protective Union gave a gala reception for two of its newly married, former members and their brides in March of 1890, the social club for young, ...

U.S. Weather Bureau in 1890s Nebraska

The U.S. Weather Bureau was established by an act of Congress on October 1, 1890. It took over the weather service that had been established in the office of the Chief ...

Canning the Way to Victory

During American participation in World War I the U.S. Food Administration, under the direction of Herbert Hoover, launched a massive campaign to persuade Americans to ...

The Shoemaker’s Ashes

"Edward Kuehl, one of the most peculiar characters that ever lived in Omaha, or anywhere else, was found dead in his bed last night in the back room of his place of ...

Crazy Horse Surrender Ledger Foreward

Red Dog, an Oglala Lakota who lived at the Red Cloud Agency, Nebraska, 1876-77 (Nebraska State Historical Society RG2955.ph).   In the summer of 1876, following the ...

Darryl F. Zanuck

Darryl F. Zanuck Darryl F. Zanuck (1902-1979), a native Nebraskan, produced some of Hollywood's most important and controversial films. He helped found 20th Century Fox ...

The Burlington’s Profitable Pork Special

Nebraska railroads were much concerned with developing an adequate economy in the areas they served. The Burlington, for example, had a long history of caring for the ...

Bungalow Filling Stations

After the giant Standard Oil Company was broken into thirty-four separate companies in 1911, the newly independent Standard Oil of Nebraska dominated the state's market ...

The Bull Fight

This is the perfect time of year for a visit to the old fishin' hole. But a group of fisherfolk from Plainview discovered that this bucolic pastime sometimes has ...

Buffalo Soldiers West

African-American soldiers on the western frontier are the focus of an exhibit at the Nebraska History Museum in Lincoln. Buffalo Soldiers West, on loan from the Colorado ...

Protection for Buffalo

The extermination of the buffalo on the Plains occurred largely between 1870 and 1885. The Nebraska State Journal of Lincoln on February 1, 1874, editorialized in vain ...

Buffalo Hunting

In late October 1877 young Rolf Johnson and three friends left their homes in Phelps County, Nebraska, for a buffalo hunt in northeastern Colorado. The hunt was not very ...
About History Nebraska
History Nebraska was founded in 1878 as the Nebraska State Historical Society by citizens who recognized Nebraska was going through great changes and they sought to record the stories of both indigenous and immigrant peoples. It was designated a state institution and began receiving funds from the legislature in 1883. Legislation in 1994 changed History Nebraska from a state institution to a state agency. The division is headed by Interim Director and CEO Jill Dolberg. They are assisted by an administrative staff responsible for financial and personnel functions, museum store services, security, and facilities maintenance for History Nebraska.
Explore Nebraska
Discover the real places and people of our past at these History Nebraska sites.

Upcoming Events

View our new and upcoming events to see how you can get involved.

Become a Member

The work we do to discover, preserve, and share Nebraska's history wouldn't be possible without the support of History Nebraska members.

Latest Hall of Fame Inductee

The Nebraska Hall of Fame was established in 1961 to officially recognize prominent Nebraskans.

Become a Member

The work we do to discover, preserve, and share Nebraska's history wouldn't be possible without the support of History Nebraska members.
Nebraska Collections

History Nebraska's mission is to collect, preserve, and open our shared history to all Nebraskans.

Our YouTube Video Collection

Get a closer look at Nebraska's history through your own eyes, with our extensive video collections.

Additional Research Resources

History Nebraska Research and Reference Services help connect you to the material we collect and preserve.

Support History Nebraska
Make a cash donation to help us acquire, preserve, and interpret Nebraska’s history. Gifts to History Nebraska help leave a legacy and may help your taxes, too! Support the work of History Nebraska by donating to the History Nebraska Foundation today.

Volunteers are the heroes of History Nebraska. So much history, so little time! Your work helps us share access to Nebraska’s stories at our museums and sites, the reference room, and online.