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Justice McMorrow, Ellen Martin Oaths on Display

6/23/2020

June 23, 2020

In honor of the centennial of the ratification of the 19th Amendment, the Illinois State Archives included a display on women's suffrage at the Capitol Complex visitor center during the March Term. The display includes the attorney oaths of Justice Mary Ann McMorrow and Ellen Martin. The visitor center is currently closed.

Ellen Martin was the fourth woman licensed as an attorney in Illinois and was an active suffragist. In 1891, the Village of Lombard was holding an election and the Village's ordinances allowed anyone over the age of 21 to vote. John Lupton of the Illinois Supreme Court Historic Preservation Commission suggests this was likely a typo since most all statutes and even the state constitution called for men over the age of 21 to be eligible to vote. Martin went to the polling place with fourteen other women to vote, and the three election judges were confounded as to what to do - one allegedly fell over backwards in his chair onto a flour barrel. The group was eventually allowed to vote. This was the first time women voted in Illinois.