Women in Law

Sophonisba Preston Breckinridge (Fayette, 1866-1948)
Among her achievements, Breckinridge was the first woman admitted to the Kentucky bar in 1892. She was also a sociologist who is credited with introducing the case study method at the University of Chicago. Read more about Sophonisba Breckinridge.

Judge Sara Combs (Powell, b. 1948)
Combs was the first female member of the Kentucky Supreme Court in 1993. She currently serves on the Kentucky Court of Appeals.

Laura Ellen Derry (Hart, 1905-1993)
Admitted to the Kentucky bar in 1936, she became the first woman to represent a defendant in a court-martial of the United States Army. Laura Ellen Derry’s papers can be found at the Archives and Records Center, University of Louisville, Women's Manuscript Collections Project.

Judge Margaret Huddleston (Warren, b.1949)
Became a family court judge in Warren County in 1998 when the Family Court was first created. Prior to this position, she worked with Cumberland Trace Legal Services providing legal services to low-income Kentuckians.

Rep. Louise Gasser Kirtley (Daviess, 1904-1972)
Kirtley was both the first woman in Daviess county to be elected to public office
without succeeding her husband and the first female lawyer to be elected to the
Kentucky House of Representatives, serving two terms (1962-1966).

Mildred Summers Lucas (Daviess, 1846-1898)
Became the first woman jailer in the state of Kentucky when her jailer-husband died. She served for 16 months before she was ruled ineligible for the position because she was a woman.

Judge Janice Reed Martin (Union, b. 1956)
Became the first African American woman judge in the state of Kentucky when she became a District Court Judge in 1992. Visit the Administrative Office of the Courts' Web site.

Judge Kathleen Mulligan (Fayette, 1890-1971)
Became the first woman judge in the state when she was appointed municipal judge in Lexington in 1928 and 1929. She was also the first female vice-president of the Kentucky Bar Association.

Pearl Carter Pace (Cumberland, 1896-1970)
One of the earliest female county sheriffs in Kentucky, serving 1937-1941.

Lt. Colonel Linda Smith (Barren, b. 1955)
In 1997 Smith became the first woman Kentucky State Police Captain. In 1998 she
was assigned to the Bowling Green command post, becoming not only the first woman at this post, but the first woman to command it. In Frankfort, she became the first woman in Kentucky to hold a command position with the state police.

Click here to get informations in german!

Site Overview


A. What

Performing Arts
Public Service

B. When

View a selected history of women
View a selected history of women
Sounds and images
Civil War Diaries

C. Where

Central / Northern Kentucky
Western Kentucky
Eastern Kentucky
Southern Kentucky


Selected Readings
Educational Tools
Web tools
Archival Collections
Children's Books

E. About this Project

Women in Sports:

Minnie Adkins
Elizabeth Barret, Anne Lewis, Mimi Pickering, & Justine Richardson
Jane Burch Cochran
Joan Dance
Enid Yandell

Women in Business:

Nelda Barton-Collings
Julia Dinsmore
Laura Freeman
Mattie Mack
Lena Madesin Phillips
Caroline Burnam Taylor

Women in Education:

Helen Lew Lang
Katherine Pettit
Jane Stephenson
Cora Wilson Stewart

Women in Health/Medicine:

Mary Britton
Linda Neville
Ora Framer Porter
Louise Southgate, M.D.

Women in Journalism:

Linda Boileau
Alice Allison Dunnigan

Women in Law:

Pearl Carter Pace
Lt. Colonel Linda Smith

Women in Literature:

Effie Waller Smith

Women in Military:

Lt. Anna Mac Clarke
Capt. Helen Horlacher Evans
Julia Ann Marcum

Women in Music:

Sarah Ogan Gunning
Helen Humes
Lily May Ledford
Reel World String Band
Jean Ritchie
Mary Wheeler

Women as Pioneers:

Esther Whitley

Women in Public Service:

Governor Martha Layne Collins
Emma Guy Cromwell
Rep. Mary Elliott Flanery
Sen. Georgia Davis Powers
Lt. Gov. Thelma Stovall

Women in Reform:

Madeline McDowell Breckinridge
Laura Clay
Eula Hall
Josephine Henry
Belinda Mason
Lois Morris
Eliza Caroline Calvert Obenchain
Charlotte Richardson
Joan Robinett
Mary Sue Whayne
Corinne Whitehead
Evelyn Williams

Women in Religion:

Eldress Nancy Moore
Rabbi Gaylia Rooks

Women in Science:

Sarah Frances Price
Ellen Churchill Semple

Women in Sports:

Terri Cecil-Ramsey
Geri Grigsby
Audrey Whitlock Peterson
Mary T. Meagher Plant