Date of Birth:

July 16, 1849, Lafayette, IN

Date of Death:

September 2, 1934, Los Angeles, CA


Social Justice & Community


Clara Shortridge Foltz was a West Coast pioneer. Around 1876, while living in San José, Foltz and her five children were abandoned by her husband, encouraging her to study law with the support of Sarah Knox-Goodrich. In 1877, Shortridge Foltz hoped to take the bar examination, however, California law allowed only white men to become members of the bar. In response to the refusal of her taking the exam, Shortridge Foltz authored a state bill, known as the “Woman Lawyer Bill,” which replaced “white male” with “person”. In September 1878, she passed the examination and was the first woman admitted to the California bar, becoming the first female lawyer on the entire west coast of the United States. Clara Shortridge Foltz was notable for many “firsts”: first female clerk for the State Assembly’s Judiciary Committee (1880); the first woman appointed to the State Board of Corrections; the first female licensed Notary Public; the first woman named director of a major bank; the first female deputy district attorney in the United States and, in 1930, the first woman to run for Governor of California, at the age of 81. She was also a writer and contributed articles to New Northwest in Portland, Oregon, and the San José Mercury.

Honoree Photo Credit:
Public Domain


Dana Harris Seeger