Sawyer, 1220 RIBJ, RIBJ, 69 RI Bar J., No. 3, Pg. 25

AuthorDenise C. Aiken, Esq. Providence
PositionVol. 69 3 Pg. 25

Ada L. Sawyer and The Providence Journal

No. Vol. 69 No. 3 Pg. 25

Rhode Island Bar Journal

December, 2020

November, 2020

Denise C. Aiken, Esq. Providence

Back in the summer of 2001, on a whim, I went over to the Providence Journal building to visit their “morgue.” It was a wonderful place that I had discovered while in high school. My theory was: if you can’t find it in the Encyclopedia Britannica, you can find it at the ProJo.

I was interested in Ada Sawyer, and the ProJo did not disappoint. They had a fat little envelope chock full of clippings of articles that had appeared in the Providence Journal and the Evening Bulletin. The clippings were yellow with age and a bit crispy. But I was able to make photostatic copies. The Providence Journal had a long relationship with the woman they had dubbed “The Providence Portia.”

On November 14, 1920 they ran a three-column article, with a photo, about Miss Ada L. Sawyer passing the bar examination without the benefit of college or law school. She was one of only twelve who passed.

On April 7, 1921 they checked in with Miss Sawyer at her office in the Turk’s Head Building and another lengthy articled appeared. She was interviewed about the clients that she was able to bring in to the firm because women evinced confidence in her.

On January 12, 1925, the Washington Bureau of the Evening Bulletin ran an article announcing that Miss Sawyer, Rhode Island’s first female attorney, was admitted to practice before the U.S. Supreme Court. (They ran the article with the same photo that we included with this article.) Then on April 1 7, 1925, the Providence Journal announced that Miss Sawyer was chosen unanimously to be the secretary of the Children’s Law Commission. The article goes on to say that it was through her efforts as head of the State Federation of Women’s Clubs and as the drafter of the bill creating the commission and the law signed by Governor Pothier, that the commission was formed.

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