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We March On - Women's Suffrage Exhibit

Exhibit at UConn Law Library

Shirley Raissi Bysiewicz

Shirley Raissi Bysiewcz graduated from UConn Law in 1954, became the first full-time woman faculty member in 1956, and first female tenured professor and law library director in 1972.

J. Agnes Burns

J. Agnes Burns, was the first graduate of the College to be admitted to the Connecticut Bar and the first female attorney to appear before the Connecticut Supreme Court.

UConn Law Women

Caroline Marie Eiermann Lillard, Portrait by Ellen Cooper, 2018

Display Advertisement in the Hartford Courant, October 30, 1921

J.Agnes Burns, undated

Constance Belton Green, 1972

While the first graduating class at UConn Law included a white woman, it took until 1972 for the first African American woman, Constance Belton Green, to graduate from the school.  

Bessye Warren Bennett, c. 1964

Graduating one year later, and passing the bar in 1974, Bessye Warren Bennett became the first African American woman licensed to practice law in Connecticut.  

Paula Bonds, c. 1984

The first African American woman faculty member was Paula Bonds, who taught civil rights law from 1983 to 1985

Jessica Zaccagnino, Law Class of 2020, at the Hartford Women's March, 2018

UConn Law

By 1920, women had achieved the right to vote, and all states admitted women to the bar.  However, women graduating from law schools faced the virtually impossible task of finding employment as lawyers.  Instead, women often took jobs as stenographers or librarians at law firms or went into practice with their male relatives. 

In 1920, Caroline Eirmann Lillard and her husband George founded the Hartford College of Law, which is now known at the University of Connecticut School of Law.  Although the original purpose of the school was to teach law to employees of local insurance companies and other organizations, the Lillards accepted anyone interested in studying the law. 

J. Agnes Burns became the first woman to graduate from the Hartford College of Law in 1924.  Admitted to the bar in 1925, she became the first woman lawyer to appear before the Connecticut Supreme Court. It was not until 1972 that Constance Belton Green became the first African American woman to graduate from UConn Law.  Graduating one year later and passing the bar in 1974, Bessye Warren Bennett became the first African American women licensed to practice law in Connecticut.  Paula Bonds became the first African American woman faculty member when she taught civil law from 1983-1985. 

At UConn Law, students, faculty, staff, and alumni have a long history of supporting equal rights.  Inspired by the historic actions of suffragists and other activists, both local and national, over the course of a century, the community must march on towards greater diversity, inclusivity, and equality, at the law school and across the world. 

Constance Belton Greene

Alumna Constance Belton Green, describes the struggles and triumphs of Black students and faculty at the law school in the memoir, Still We Rise: African Americans at the University of Connecticut School of Law

Womxn at UConn School of Law

Women and the Law