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Dictionary of Wisconsin History

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Term: Goodell, Rhoda Livinia 1839 - 1880


lawyer, b. Utica, N.Y. She graduated from an academy in Brooklyn Heights, N.Y. (1858), and for a time assisted her father in editing the anti-slavery newspaper, Principia. She taught school (1863-1866), and later worked as an editor for the publishing firm of Harper and Brothers. In 1871 she moved to Wisconsin to care for her aging parents in Janesville. She studied law in the office of Jackson and Norcross in Janesville, and in 1874 was admitted to the bar of the Rock County circuit court, the first woman lawyer in the state. Upon appeal of a case to the Wisconsin supreme court in 1875, she was refused admission to practice before that court by chief justice Edward G. Ryan (q.v.) because of her sex. Through a press campaign, sympathy was aroused in her behalf, and in 1877 a bill was passed in the state legislature forbidding discrimination on grounds of sex in admission to practice before the state supreme court. In 1879 Miss Goodell was admitted to practice before that court. J. R. Berryman, eel., Bench and Bar of Wis. (2 vols., Chicago, 1898); Proc. State Bar Assoc. Wis., 1 (1881); A. J. Beitzinger, E. G. Ryan (Madison, 1960); Milwaukee Sentinel, Apr. 1, 1880; WPA MS.

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[Source: Dictionary of Wisconsin biography]
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