Review of Barbara Babcock's, Woman Lawyer: The Trials of Clara Foltz
California Legal History: Journal of the California Supreme Court Historical Society, Vol. 5, pp. 339-348, 2010
12 Pages Posted: 7 Jul 2011
Date Written: 2010
As Barbara Babcock’s new biography reveals, Foltz had great ambitions: to be “an inspiring movement leader, a successful lawyer and legal reformer, a glamorous and socially prominent woman, an influential public thinker, and a good mother;” perhaps not surprisingly in this context, she suffered not a few setbacks in a life that was often “frantic and scattered.” Yet, as Babcock’s careful scholarship demonstrates, the story of Foltz’s life and contributions as one of America’s first women lawyers offer important insights about the history of gender and professionalism in law. Moreover, Babcock’s biography is particularly important for two reasons. First, it provides both a detailed “story” about Foltz and a sustained assessment of her accomplishments, rounding out many aspects of Babcock’s earlier writing about Foltz. Perhaps more significantly, the biography is also augmented by an online supplement with essays and bibliographic notes that extend the documentation in the printed book - part of Babcock’s unique Women’s Legal History Website at Stanford, which has become a primary source for scholars interested in the history of women in law, particularly in the United States. This review focuses on the published biography, an authoritative and sensitive biographical interpretation of Foltz’s life. Indeed, in answer to Babcock’s professed goal for her biography, it seems clear that Foltz would enthusiastically “approve” this fine effort.
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