National Women’s History Museum

Clara FoltzAfter her husband abandoned her and their five children, Clara Shortridge Foltz began studying law. #OnThisDay in 1878, she passed her bar exam (despite her questioning lasting twice as long as was typical for a man), becoming the first woman permitted to practice law in California. Foltz tried to attend Hastings College of Law but she was mocked by her male classmates and banned from coming back. She appealed to the school’s dean and was told that her presence and rustling skirts bothered the young men of the class. Foltz and a fellow women’s rights advocate, Laura Gordon, took their case to the California Supreme Court and won.