Forging Identities: Jewish Women, Legal Aid, and the Secular Liberal State, 1890-1930
Indiana Journal of Law and Social Equality, Forthcoming
37 Pages Posted: 15 Jan 2016
Date Written: January 13, 2016
This article discusses an unexamined area of the history of the legal profession — the role that late nineteenth and early twentieth century Jewish women legal practitioners played in the delivery of free legal aid to the poor as social workers, lawyers, and, importantly, as cultural and legal brokers. It presents two such women who represented different types and models of legal aid — Minnie Low of the Chicago Bureau of Personal Service, a Jewish social welfare organization, and Rosalie Loew of the Legal Aid Society of New York. The article interrogate how these women negotiated their identities as Jewish professional women, what role being Jewish and female played in shaping their careers, understandings of law, and the delivery of legal aid, as well as the constrained professional possibilities, but at times, opportunities, both women confronted and embraced. By puzzling through these issues, we also see two contrasting understandings of the rule of law and the secular liberal state. This article, combining gender history, legal history, and Jewish history, thus contributes to and enriches the growing body of scholarship on Jewish male lawyers and their relationship to the larger Jewish community and the state.
Keywords: Jews, Legal Profession, Women, Legal Aid, Legal Assistance, History, Social Work, Immigrants, Rosalie Loew, Minnie Low, Gender
JEL Classification: D6
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation