Mary Belle Grossman made history in 1918 as one of the first two women admitted to the American Bar Association, then dedicated her career to protecting women. Grossman decided to become a lawyer while working as a stenographer, when she saw male coworkers earning faster promotions. She graduated law school from Baldwin-Wallace College in 1912 and was admitted to the Ohio bar. She joined the Women’s Suffrage Party of Greater Cleveland as their treasurer, a member of their Labor Committee, and head of their Wage Earners League, learning to canvas neighborhoods door-to-door. She then used these skills in 1921, when seeking a municipal judgeship, and became the city’s second female judge in 1923. In 1926 she was appointed to the new Morals Court, handling cases that involved prostitution, domestic violence, and sex crimes. Due to her hard line on protecting vulnerable women, in 1947 the Cleveland Press declared her a “militant feminist [who] has been bad news to wife beaters, gamblers, and persons charged with moral offenses." Even after her retirement in 1959, Grossman remained involved in activism for the civil rights movement and the feminist movement.
How to cite this page
Jewish Women's Archive. "Mary Belle Grossman." (Viewed on September 17, 2019) <https://jwa.org/people/grossman-mary>.