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The Encyclopedia of Cleveland History

GROSSMAN, MARY B. - The Encyclopedia of Cleveland History

GROSSMAN, MARY B. (10 June 1879-Jan. 1977), the first woman municipal judge in the U.S., was born in Cleveland to Louis and Fannie Engle Grossman. She studied at the Euclid Ave. Business College, from 1896-1912 working as a stenographer and bookkeeper in her cousin's law office. She enrolled in the law school at BALDWIN-WALLACE COLLEGE and received her law degree and passed the Ohio bar examination in 1912. She was only the third woman lawyer in Cleveland and in 1918 was one of the first 2 women admitted to membership in the American Bar Assoc. Grossman maintained a private Cleveland practice from 1912-23. She was active in women's suffrage and was chairwoman of the League of Woman's Suffrage. Once women won the vote, Grossman decided to run for municipal judge; she lost in 1921, but in 1923 was successful and became the first woman municipal judge in the U.S., continuing until her retired at 80. She also served on traffic court (1925-59) and organized the morals court in 1926, serving there until her retirement. As a judge, Grossman earned a reputation as, according to her obituary, "a severe, rigidly honest jurist, sometimes irreverently referred to as Hardboiled Mary." When she took a day off to observe a Jewish holiday in 1927, 39 bail jumpers reportedly turned themselves in so they would not have to face her. Grossman was a charter member of the WOMEN'S CITY CLUB and LEAGUE OF WOMEN VOTERS (LWV) OF CLEVELAND and board chairman of ALTA HOUSE. She never married.

Mary Grossman Papers, WRHS.

Last Modified: 16 Jul 1997 03:44:49 PM

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