Grand Valley State University Women's Center

Women at the Bar: A Century of Women Attorneys in Grand Rapids1870s to 1970

Date: March 13, 2014
Time: 7:00 p.m.
Location: Gerald R. Ford Museum, 303 Pearl Street NW
More Information:

Celebrate Women's History Month with GGRWHC!

Women at the Bar: A Century of Women Attorneys in  

 Grand Rapids, 1870s to 1970s

In the 1960s and 1970s, a new wave of women attorneys began joining the bar in Grand Rapids, paving the way for many who followed.  Yet they were not the first female attorneys to practice law in Grand Rapids.  In the late 1870s, Elizabeth Eaglesfield, one of the early female graduates of the University of Michigan Law School, hung out her shingle and began advertising for clients.  She was followed by Ella Mae Backus, an attorney who became the backbone of the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Western District of Michigan, and others, such as Gale Saunders, who are largely unknown today.  Attorney and Grand Valley professor Ruth Stevens will trace the history of the first century of women attorneys in Grand Rapids, bringing to life the stories of these early women attorneys and linking them to the next wave of pioneers who helped shape the Grand Rapids legal community as it is today.

Local attorney Ruth Stevens will talk about a century of early female attorneys in Grand Rapids for Women's History Month. 



Ms. Stevens' program is co-sponsored by the

 Greater Grand Rapids Women's History Council and the

Grand Rapids Historical Society 


Gerald R. Ford Museum, 303 Pearl Street NW

 7 p.m. Thursday, March 13, 2014

Free and open to the public

Free parking

Reception following