Martha Strickland became the first woman to argue a case before the Michigan Supreme Court in 1890, a case which she won.1
Stickland received her law degree from the University of Michigan when she was a mere twenty years of age. She began her practice by opening a law office in the rural town of St. Johns, Michigan, servicing the small farm community. Years later, she moved her practice to the city of Detroit. Strickland argued cases before the Supreme Court with skill and confidence. Her performance silenced many of those who believed that women were unfit for the practice of law and she earned the respect of her colleagues in the courtroom.
Stickland was an avid supporter of suffrage, equality, and the advancement of women. In one of her most recognized cases before the Michigan Supreme Court, Wm. S. Wilson v. Genesse Circuit Judge, she successfully argued the right of women to hold the office of deputy county clerk in Michigan. Her success made women eligible to secure valuable employment positions in local government.
Martha Strickland dedicated herself to educating other women in matters of law. She was responsible for founding a school of parliamentary law in Detroit. Strickland also visited many other important major cities across the nation teaching this subject to women’s classes. Martha Strickland was not only committed to her own advancement in law, but she was also committed to the advancement of all women.
1 Martha Strickland in Michigan Women: Firsts and Founders. Lansing: Michigan Women’s Hall of Fame, 1989