Part of the American History & Genealogy Project

Ada M. Bittenbender 1848 ~


Mrs. Bittenbender, lawyer and reformer, was born in Asylum, Bradford County, Pennsylvania, August 3, 1848. Her father's family were partly of New England and partly of German stock; her mother, of New England. Her father served all during the Civil War, and died soon after its close. Mrs. Bittenbender's maiden name was Ada M. Cole.

In 1874 she entered as a student of the Pennsylvania State Normal School, from which she was graduated in 1875. After graduating, she was elected a member of the faculty and taught one year. She then entered the Froebel Normal Institute in Washington, D. C, and graduated from this institute in 1877. The day on which she graduated she was called to her Alma Mater as principal and accepted the position, teaching for one year, when illness prevented her continuing her work. In 1878 she married Henry Clay Bittenbender, a young lawyer of Bloomsburg, Pennsylvania, and a graduate of Princeton College.

Soon after their marriage they moved to Osceola, Nebraska. Mrs. Bittenbender taught school for a short time. In 1879, Mr. Bittenbender bought the Record published in Osceola. Mrs. Bittenbender was engaged as editor and served in this capacity for three years, making an able, fearless, moral, temperance newspaper of this journal. Mrs. Bittenbender strongly opposed the granting of saloon licenses. When the Nebraska Woman Suffrage Association was organized in 1881, she was elected recording secretary. She with others secured the submission of the woman suffrage amendment to the constitution in 1881. The following year she was elected president of the association. In 1881 she became the editor of the Farmer's Alliance paper, started in Nebraska.

While editing the Record she read law with her husband, and in 1882 passed an examination and was licensed to practice. She was the first woman admitted to the bar in Nebraska. She became her husband's law partner, and for many years the firm existed under the name of H. C. and Ada M. Bittenbender. She secured the passage of the scientific temperance instruction bill and the tobacco bill; secured a law giving the mother the guardianship of her children equally with the father, and several other laws beneficial to women. She was the author of the excellent industrial home bill which was enacted by the Nebraska legislature in 1887.

At the Inter-national Council of Women, held in Washington, D. C, in 1888 she addressed the council on "Woman in Law." She represented the Woman's Christian Temperance Union at the national Capital for many years in urging legislation in the interest of temperance. In 1888 she was admitted to practice in the Supreme Court of the United States, and elected an attorney to the International Woman's Christian Temperance Union, which she held for some time. She is the author of the chapter on "Woman in Law" in "Woman's Work in America" and the "National Prohibitory Amendment Guide." It is through her efforts and by her untiring devotion to the cause that much of the beneficial legislation for temperance and the protection of women and her interests have been obtained.

Women of America

Source: The Part Taken by Women in American History, By Mrs. John A. Logan, Published by The Perry-Nalle Publishing Company, Wilmington, Delaware, 1912.


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